There is a theory in cognitive therapy that people repeat the same patterns because our minds become used to traveling particular neural paths; and thus seek those paths.

It’s sort of the mental equivalent of commuting … where you always take the same route to work, even though you know that sometimes traffic is really going to suck, instead of seeking a new/better way of getting where you need to go.

This also helps explain why people who have certain maladaptive schemas tend to keep being attracted to the same types of people. For example, the emotionally deprived (like my ex-wife) are constantly attracted to the emotionally inhibited (like me), and vice-versa.

The former believes that their desire for a normal degree of emotional support will not be adequately met by others; and this is reinforced by the latter’s inability to express spontaneous action, feeling, or communication — usually to avoid disapproval by others, feelings of shame, or losing control of one’s impulses.

By the same token, since the former is constantly seeking emotional approval and support, the latter begins to shut-down emotionally because they’re afraid they won’t be able to fulfill their partner’s needs.

It takes a conscious effort to break the patterns, but generally unless/until you understand why, you’ll continue to repeat them.

Some people can do it on their own, but to really understand why and change, most people need therapy. The problem is that few actually admit this to themselves and seek it out.

I don’t want to repeat the same patterns in my next relationship … my marriage falling apart was the most devastating thing ever to happen to me, and yet as far as divorces go, it was one of the easiest, as we had nothing to fight about … and so I am actively in therapy, and still on happy pills just to deal with the daily anxiety about my own self-worth.

Does this make me a weak man? I sure hope not. In fact, I believe this is making me a stronger man in the long run.