How to break YOUR bad love habits for good

How to break YOUR bad love habits for good: From falling for the ‘wrong’ type to being drawn to married men, Tracey Cox reveals how to put a stop to the cycles that have you stuck in dead-end relationships

  • German research says new partner usually leads to same relationship dynamics 
  • Sex expert Tracey Cox advises on how to break free from common pattern
  • Falling for the same type, and dating married men are two common ones 

Think your next relationship is going to be completely different than your last one?Think again.

According to ground-breaking German research, starting over with a new partner usually leads to the same relationship dynamics – good or bad – as those in the past.

The eight-year study of 554 people, published a few days ago, revealed that once the glow of the honeymoon phase fades, prior relationship patterns surface.

Here, they are, all your old friends – the reason you finished your last relationship – staring at you, in the bright, shiny new one!

The study by the University of Alberta and University of Jena is the first of its kind to explore new versus old relationships long-term.

So, are we all destined to live our love lives on repeat? Is Pamela Anderson destined to always date bad boys? Will Caroline Flack forever be with toy boys?

Or can you change those toxic love patterns for good? The answer is of course you can!

Here’s how to break free from the three most common female relationship patterns – forever!

New German research has revealed how starting over with a new partner often leads to the same relationship dynamics – good or bad – as those in the past (stock image)

Falling for the same type, over and over

From the moment we’re born, our brain starts making a list of characteristics of people we like and don’t like, find attractive and don’t find attractive.

When we meet a potential partner, our subconscious checks them against the ‘liked people’ list and tries to find the closest match.

The more ‘chemistry’ you feel, the more matches you’ve found.

Tracey Cox (pictured) shared how women can break free from the three most common female relationship patterns

We do the same with gestures: if a yearned for ex used to smooth his hair a certain way, you’ll be attracted to a guy who does the same thing.

This is how we end up with a ‘type’: we fancy people who look or act like other people we love or loved.

And this is how we end up in trouble.

You’re on dangerous ground when you choose partners based on looks and gestures.

The sensible way to choose a life partner is to base it on things that matter: intelligence, compatibility, common goals, respect, kindness and flexibility.

Be sensible: deliberately date against type. 

Don’t make physical characteristics the main criteria. If you date a certain type of person – musicians, let’s say – don’t go near a live gig.

Your new criteria? If someone treats you well, is great company and interested in you, give them a try.

Seriously, do you honestly think choosing someone because of their hair colour is a bright idea? 


Many of us appear destined to repeat past relationships. Caroline Flack, for example, has dated a string of younger men including Lewis Burton (left together) and Harry Styles, right

Falling for people who need rescuing

Rescuers are attracted to people they can help.

They become saviours, putting their life completely on hold while they rescue their lover, cheerfully giving up work, friends and family to be at the beck and call of a person who usually doesn’t deserve such loyalty.

Rescuers believe, if they solve their lover’s problem, they’ll be eternally grateful and never leave them.

They often come from homes where one parent had a problem while the other spent their life fixing them: you’ve learned to equate love with being needed.

Do you put other people’s needs before your own? Are you always telling friends your lovers just need a little more time to get themselves together? Are all your friends a little, well, needy?

Stop the cycle now.

If someone starts pouring out their troubles on date one, two or three, steer clear. You want someone who’s sorted not in need of help.

Keep conversations light. Don’t ask deep, personal questions or invite confidences.

Offer sympathy not a solution. Say ‘How awful for you’, and suggest a support group if someone unloads their troubles. Then change the subject.

A healthy relationship has a relatively even power balance. You want to me someone’s equal, not their mother.

The eight-year study of 554 people, published a few days ago, revealed that once the glow of the honeymoon phase fades, prior relationship patterns surface (stock image)

Falling for people who are married or involved with someone else

Falling in love with one person who’s married could just be bad luck, bad timing and bad judgement.

But if you’ve had more than one affair with a married lover, you’re deliberately picking them – perhaps subconsciously – for a number of reasons.

EIGHT WAYS TO BREAK A TOXIC LOVE HABIT 

Know your pattern: Think about your last three serious relationships. What did your lovers have in common? What went wrong and how did you behave? Look for any common themes.

Choose partners who make you feel good about yourself: It sounds obvious to the emotionally well-adjusted, but not if you have low self-esteem. If your partner isn’t your biggest fan, they aren’t the right person.

Don’t have sex too soon: Sleep together before you get to know someone well and you risk being emotionally bonded to a person you really have nothing in common with.

Avoid drugs and alcohol: They skew your judgement.

See people as they are, not as you want them to be: Take the rose-coloured glasses off. Don’t indulge the ‘They’ll be perfect once I change this or that’.

Spell out your needs: Let them know exactly what you expect from them and how you want to be treated.

No second chances: The minute you realise you’ve done it again – repeated the same pattern – get out of the relationship.

Get some therapy: If you feel like you’re stuck on repeat and can’t seem to break the pattern, see a good therapist. A few sessions with an experienced counsellor can change your life. Find one at relate.org.uk or bacp.co.uk.

Top of the list: self-esteem. It’s a boost to the ego to be able to lure a married person away from someone they supposedly love.

If you ditch your lovers the minute they show interest in leaving their partner, this is you.

If one or both parents abandoned you – died, split or seemed to forget you were there – you’re repeating the pattern by falling for adults who aren’t there for you either.

A third possibility is that you’re scared of intimacy.

Hook up with someone who’s married and you have an inbuilt excuse for not committing and getting hurt; if they finish it, it’s because of their partner not you.

Fix this issue by working hard on finding healthy ways to boost your self-esteem.

Let’s be honest here, it’s degrading to be the ‘bit on the side’ and no fun spending Christmas and holidays alone while the person you love plays happy families.

Don’t you deserve to be number one, instead of in second place?

Surround yourself with people who boost you up, don’t drag you down.

Stop wasting your time waiting around for unavailable people.

Get active: get out there and exercise, make friends, do new things, meet new people, make a career change, move flats, change your life.

When you next meet someone you like, find out if they’re truly available by asking outright, within the first three dates.

Say, ‘You are single and not involved with anyone else, right? Because I’m up for a relationship and want to check there’s no unfinished business’.

If they say, ‘Well, there’s just one tiny problem….’, get the hell out of there!

You’ll find more of Tracey’s articles on love, sex and relationships at traceycox.com, along with her two product ranges.  

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