Most people seem to recognize that there is definitely a self-destructive pattern in their relationships, a pattern they are stuck in. A few of them have been working to break free from their destructive patterns but now ask, “How do I know I’ve moved on?”
A person who has overcome his/her pattern of “negative bonding” is profoundly different from what he/she was before:
1. You accept yourself fully (as you are now) even while wanting to change parts of yourself.
2. You take full responsibility for your own behaviour, own choices and own life.
3. You do not adapt yourself to try and fit into “uncomfortable” situations and relationships.
4. You recognize that you’re a worthy person and your fulfillment is as important as anyone else.
5. You are in touch with your feelings, needs and desires and do not need a man/woman to bring out the fully expressive, creative and affectionate you. You do that with yourself and get a real kick out of it.
6. You are taking risks; meeting new and different people and learning more of what life wants to teach you about yourself through others.
7. You are freed from the overwhelming responsibility of fixing others. No one has to change in order for you to feel good or get on with the business of living.
8. You are less needy, less worried, less anxious, less angry, less irritable, less hostile, less forceful, less submissive, less confrontational, less selfish and self-destructive.
9. You are more realistic in your expectations of yourself and of others. You no longer pressurize others for more of what they don’t have (time, closeness, sensitivity, romance, fidelity, material stuff etc.) or give him/her too much of what he/she does not necessarily want and then become angered and hurt when he/she does not seem to appreciate it.
10. You are more able to relax and enjoy yourself and others more. This frees others to relax and enjoy themselves around you.
11. You’ve let go playing games: calculating, manipulating, putting on a great big spectacular show of “loving” him/her, the chasing and running away. You are more relaxed and honest, and let the rest take care of itself.
12. You are pursuing your interests, hobbies and dreams.
13. You have a circle of supportive friends and family while at the same time avoiding dysfunctional relationships and energy drainers – people who sabotage your growth by wanting you to remain the same so that they can remain the same.
14. You trust more and can more comfortably let down your protection against being really hurt and allow a man/woman to see and love you for who you really are.
15. You no longer use your sexuality as a tool to control intimacy and relationships. You now allow yourself to be sexual as away of deepening your knowledge of each other.
16. You allow yourself to be loved because you already love yourself. If there is lots of love already in there, it is much easier to receive and accept love that comes from outside of you.
17. You know that a good relationship takes work and time to grow and are willing to put in effort and time but at the same time know when to let go if it’s not working – to let go without experiencing disabling depression.
18. You don’t need to find a partner who is the opposite of you to bring balance into your life. Instead you ask, “Does this relationship enable me grow into all I am capable of being?”
19. You’ve learned to live your life without all the “stress” and time-consuming and energy draining dramas of heated battles, begging, angry outbursts, parting and reconciling.
20. What once felt normal and familiar feels uncomfortable, awkward and unhealthy. When everything in you wants to take over, to advice and encourage, use praise to “raise” his/her self-esteem, or criticism to manipulate him/her, you easily hold yourself from responding in the old ways.
Some people have worked through their “negative bonding” patterns without any therapy or professional help, but a majority of people have tried so hard and none of their best efforts have worked in the long run. This is because often the situation is worse than they allow themselves to admit; they are too proud to ask for help; they make a half-attempted effort just until the pain of the break-up is gone.
Working to let go off old patterns of relating is a better alternative to pining for your last love and waiting for your next heart break. None of this is easy, but it is exactly what has to happen. This may be the first time in your life that you’ve regarded yourself truly important and worthy of your own attention and nurturing.