Third Biggest Mistake in Non-Monogamy: Not Knowing Your Own Relationship Patterns

Nov 21, 2017

Why is it important to know about your own patterns in a relationship? I’m Dr. Liz from Sex-Positive Psych. And today, I’m talking about the third most common pitfall I see in non-monogamous relationships. And that is people who don’t know their own patterns. So here’s the thing, you as a person know yourself better than anyone else ever could. You’ve been with yourself longer than anyone else in your life. You’ve known yourself more and you’ve spent more time with yourself than anyone else. So if there is anyone who knows you, it’s probably you.

And yet, so many folks end up blind to how they tend to act in relationships. So how does this manifest? I’ll tell you a personal example. I love dating and I love new people. I’m a slut, I’m slutty with my heart. I love falling in love. What that can mean though is that I dive super deeply into new relationship energy. When I’m in NRE which is the abbreviation for new relationship energy, I will often find myself swept up by the current to such a strong degree that I start saying and doing things that I probably shouldn’t. [Giggle]

For instance, it is common for me during NRE to make promises about wanting to get married or have children or move in with people and share a bedroom. Why is this a problem? Because once NRE is over and we’re six to eight months into the relationship, I generally don’t want those things anymore. There are several people whose hearts I’ve broken because I wasn’t able to be clear on and communicative about my patterns in NRE.

All of us have patterns in relationships. For me, when someone hurts me or I am upset, what I tend to do is withdraw. If I feel like someone isn’t respecting one of my boundaries, what I tend to do is make the boundary harder and even further out. I push more and more. If I am dating someone and I feel like they’re not giving me enough attention, what I’ll do is just start giving them the cold shoulder. Knowing these about myself, allows me to interact more fully with people because I know what I’m doing and I could prepare them for what might come up.

Another pattern I have, I am really great at responding to other people’s communications. If some texts me or calls me or emails me, I’m really good at responding to it. I’m pretty bad sometimes at remembering to send that first message though because I know these things about myself. When I start dating someone, when I form new friendships, when I have new relationships, I can tell people that I’m dating, “Here are the things you need to know about me.” “If you notice these things are starting to happen, here’s how you can talk to me about them.” These are the patterns that I know about myself.

Having that self-knowledge lets them win with me. it gives them the information that they need to make good decisions when things get tough. It makes it so that we are much more likely to have a successful long-term relationship because they don’t have to guess what’s going on. If you take the time to get to know yourself, to ask yourself “What is it that I tend to do?” “What are my patterns?” “How do I tend to react to different things in relationships?” Taking that self-knowledge gives you a huge advantage especially in non-monogamy.

When we’re dating multiple people, it’s necessarily more complicated in terms of logistics. You’re handling more emotions, you’re handling more schedules, there’s a lot more happening. So the easier that you can make it for the people that you’re dating, the more likely it is that your relationship will be successful. So take some time, get to know yourself, sit down and have a really honest, hard look at who you are and what it is that you do.

What are your patterns? Because once you know them, you can start figuring them out. You can change them, you can communicate about them. We can’t change things we don’t know. So what is the number three most common pitfall in non-monogamy? Not knowing your own patterns. And how do you fix it? Take some time. Ask yourself the hard questions, get to know yourself. If you have former partners that you’re close with or friends whose opinions you trust and who you trust to be honest, ask them what they’ve seen.

Get that data, get that information so that moving forward, you can make sure you’re making good decisions and that you’re acting in a way that is in line with your values and what you want. I’m Dr. Liz from Sex-PositivePsych. If you have comments or questions, feel free to post them down there. This is the end of my three-part series of the most common pitfalls in non-monogamy. What else do you want to see on this channel? Let me know. I can’t wait to see you next time.

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