Therapie und Coaching bei Beziehungsthemen

Even if it’s not always obvious at first glance, many people realize, often only after the fact, that they’ve met the same type of woman or man over and over again. So you fall in love with people with whom the relationship is similarly problematic and complicated. Even though at the beginning everything seemed new, unfamiliar and completely different this time.

For example, a woman may tend to look for men who correspond to a certain type, perhaps visually trained and confident in their appearance, but who behave increasingly unreliable or insensitive in relationships. She may repeatedly find herself in an increasingly insecure, conformist or distrustful role with the associated relationship problems. Despite the repetition, it is still a disappointment for her.

I often hear about such dynamics in my psychological counseling practice. First of all, it is important to understand how we come to feel attracted to people who are of a similar type. Our relationship behavior is always based on the relationships from our childhood, ie with our parents or people close to us.

How do we come to like a certain type of woman or man?

We humans are very conservative in our basic structure. That means we prefer what we know. We are constantly drawn into patterns that are familiar to us. This process often takes place unconsciously and can be particularly well observed in the area of ​​couple relationships: Even if the familiar type of person is not necessarily the best choice for us, as in the example above, and it causes relationship problems, we choose the known evil over the probably better unknown. The strange is just strange. It’s just what feels normal to us. Like advertising, which works through repetition because it creates a familiar feeling in us, even if we don’t really like the product itself.

What role does the external appearance of the partner play?

In this dynamic, external characteristics only play a minor role when choosing a partner. (Although there are apparently measurable similarities between parents and partners, as Hungarian scientists have found in a study .) More important than the appearance of the potential partner are typical interaction patterns and roles that we enter into with them. For example, the feeling of always coming up short or being kept down. This is often an essential point in psychological counseling or therapy: an unresolved inner conflict becomes visible in our relationships because our partner is ideally suited for us to re-enact our issues with them. The conflict with the partner is then the reason through which the underlying problem becomes visible.

Are there relationship problems in psychological counseling or coaching that are typical for Berlin?

Relationship problems in a big city like Berlin are essentially no different than anywhere else. But there are special features when looking for a partner, as well as in the relationship. Compared to village structures, the city offers a much larger selection of possible partners. Not only is there a greater temptation to keep looking for a new person when relationship problems arise. The demands and pressure and the associated uncertainty regarding the choice of partner also increases with the number of choices. In this sense, the big city doesn’t necessarily make it easier to have a committed and well-functioning relationship, especially at the beginning. But that is only one part that has an influence. The personality of the individual and how he or she approaches people or dares to emotionally engage with others is at least as important.

Whether in the initial phase or in a long-term relationship, clients in my practice report the experience that, although at the beginning it seemed as if things were different with the new counterpart, after a while the problems became the same as usual Show dynamics.

How is the phenomenon of recurring relationship problems made understandable in psychological counseling?

Sigmund Freud once said that we repeat unsolved problems until we have solved them. He speaks of the so-called repetition compulsion , which comes from the unconscious or repressed within us. According to Freud, this is the reason why certain people repeatedly come and stay in situations that actually make them feel unhappy and unfulfilled. The explanatory model is based on the basic assumption that we carry internal, unresolved conflicts within us that arose in our childhood: the way we were treated as children is how we treat ourselves later. When choosing a partner, we look for partners who fit the film that plays out again and again in our lives.

Example: A girl grows up in very neglectful conditions. The mother is an alcoholic, the father is never there. Due to these circumstances, the girl begins to take over her mother’s tasks at a very early age. He takes on the caring role, behaves very sensibly and constantly puts his own needs aside. This is how the girl ensures that the system in which she lives stays running.

By taking on parental tasks, it develops coping strategies to somehow cope with the threatening situation. Of course, it also experiences the emptiness and pain caused by the lack of attention, care and security from its parents and it longs to be taken care of itself. Nevertheless, as an adult, it is very easy to find yourself in situations where you care about the needs of others. It is what it is good at, what it is familiar with and through which, in our experience, things can be ‚kept working‘. Just as he is familiar with coming up short and having to deal with it.

Children do everything they can to maintain their relationship with their parents

The absolute need for connection is inherent in all of us because as children we are dependent on our parents. It only becomes a problem if the parents do not care enough or are not able to respond appropriately to the child’s needs. The child thereby learns to ignore his own needs and to blame himself for the problematic relationship with his parents. He may come to the conclusion that he is unlovable or somehow not right. As an adult, the girl in the example case carries the conviction from her childhood that she is only wanted if she functions and is cared for. Furthermore, she is simply very good at caring for others and in return she receives recognition and experiences control over the situation.

How does this specifically affect women’s relationship problems?

She will unconsciously re-enact the ‚drama‘ of her childhood. Maybe because of her history she likes to look for disorganized artist types or unreliable, demanding or self-absorbed partners, whom she then takes care of and has a lot of understanding for. The tragedy arises because if the woman remains in her coping pattern, she remains in her secure role, but never experiences being loved for who she is. She never learns that she can also be weak and needy. The protective mechanism of the past becomes the prison of today. This creates a feeling of control, but it also repeatedly confirms the belief that she has to do something for love.

Could relationship problems and separation be avoided if we consciously sought out people with similar childhood histories and the same coping strategies?

People with the same coping strategies usually annoy us more than we find them particularly likeable. Our coping strategies are closely linked and driven by our negative beliefs. This inner critical voice would then be more likely to become louder in the same person. We often find that people who want to give us what we lacked in childhood are not attractive or interesting. A person whose deep conviction is that they are not loved for themselves will hardly know what to do with unconditional affection and care from their partner. It just doesn’t fit their world view. In a way, we would be putting ourselves in a completely unfamiliar, strange situation and playing an unknown game. As stated above, we prefer to avoid anything unusual.

In relationships it is important that there is a flexible balance

Ultimately, for a relationship to work, we need flexibility in roles and partners who can, in principle, take on both roles and also do without their usual role. That basically everyone can sometimes be the strong shoulder, sometimes the more needy one. Take on the dynamic, active and independent part as well as show the passive, cuddly, soft side. In my psychological counseling or coaching sessions, I also support people in taking on roles that feel unfamiliar and foreign to them.

In a relationship, isn’t one person always more dominant or affectionate than the other?

Tendencies in the roles are completely normal and ok. The point is that we don’t freeze in it. It is important for both partners to be able to stand on their own two feet and to form a real connection with the other. This can be metaphorically illustrated as standing on two legs, the “attachment leg” and the “assertion leg”. It is alive when we can ‚dance‘. We humans have the need for both autonomy and connection. So it’s about balance, first within ourselves and then also together with our partner. If one of the partners always automatically adapts and subordinates himself and the other at the same time behaves in a very self-assertive and aggressive manner, in the long term this easily leads to increasingly extreme roles becoming hardened. And they become a problem in the relationship. We can easily imagine this if, for example, one person barely comes home and the other complains a lot about it and makes accusations, which is why the former has no motivation to come home the next time.

What role do relationships outside the family play in later relationship patterns?

Even though the relationships with mother and father are usually most relevant at the beginning of life, other caregivers may also have a major influence on the development of a growing child. For example, it is possible that the relationship with the parents is secure and stable, but that the child later has massively problematic experiences with classmates or friends. Attentive teachers, grandparents or neighbors can also enable a positive bonding experience.
However, parents have responsibility for their child as long as they are not yet adults. However, the following also applies to parents: It is absolutely not necessary to always respond 100 percent to the needs of your children. It is enough to be good enough parents who are largely able to respond empathetically to their children’s needs. Dear parents, you don’t have to do everything perfectly!

Is there any reason to hope for a functioning relationship if the relationship with the parents was problematic?

Thinking “that’s just how I am” because of a difficult childhood is not productive. It is important to take responsibility for yourself as an adult. It is helpful to focus on what you would like to do. Nobody is at the mercy of their past. There is always the opportunity to move beyond old habits. The girl in our example could take the first step to become aware of the characteristics of her partner that were not good for her in past relationships. For many people it’s about choosing your partner based on inner values ​​instead of external appearances. With dating apps like Tinder, the search for a partner is often very superficial.

What does psychological counseling in Berlin do to help people who keep struggling with the same relationship problems?

The goal is basically for the person affected to learn to give themselves what they expect from others. In psychological counseling, coaching and psychotherapy, we approach the problem by finding out together what the specific needs are. Imaginative techniques from schema therapy are used, or so-called limited re-parenting of the therapist. This allows the client to concretely experience an approachable, caring attitude and action that answers their needs. This can turn a longing into a concrete, self-caring motive for action.

Usually, psychological counseling or psychotherapy initially slows down

We look carefully and calmly at how recurring problematic situations arise in the person’s relationships. Stimulus, emotion and reaction often occur very quickly and unconsciously in everyday life. When I work with individuals, I unravel what exactly happens in these situations: What was the hope? What is the expectation and the actual need behind it? What was the perception? How did I feel about it? How did I behave and what was the effect?

In the end, it’s about being able to give yourself what you would like to get from others

If you always feel attracted to the same type of person, then it is helpful to ask yourself what you have in common with this type. Often we see in the other a quality that we think we need. For example, if you look muscular and strong, this may be associated with stability or protection. Psychological counseling or coaching/therapy is often about learning to fulfill your own needs. For example, if you would like to feel respected and taken seriously, this need is usually not met if we withdraw the offense or talk to the other person. Instead, it is important to first take yourself seriously, respect your own boundaries and be clear about your needs. Then we can think about what an action would be that meets our needs. Maybe it would be to express a request clearly, to say no, to distance yourself, or to seek closeness.

If you are interested in working through recurring relationship problems together, please contact me straight away and arrange an initial consultation. I can be reached by phone and email.

This blog article was based on the interview at Deutschlandfunk Nova on the topic of ‚prey scheme‘

Tina – Soulmates