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Ask TherapistMarryAnn Your Own Question
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5822
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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How do I break the cycle of finding myself in relationships

Resolved Question:

How do I break the cycle of finding myself in relationships where my partner mirrors my Mother with whom I have unresolved issues?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Thank you for requesting me.

The best way to address any type of transference of unresolved issues to current relationships is to address the original cause of the problem, in this case your relationship with your mother.

Whenever someone has a dysfunctional relationship early in life with a parent, there are unmet needs that do not get fulfilled. The strong desire to be loved, cared for and nurtured are within every child. When a child seeks to have a parent fulfill these needs and is rejected, the need stays as the child grows up to adulthood. The adult then tried to find relationships that meet this need, usually ending up in dysfunctional relationships that not only do not fill the need, but cause more distress.

That is why it is important to go back to the original cause and resolve it. You did mention working on issues in your past. Did you feel you made any headway? Were you able to see a therapist? If your therapist did not help or you did not see a therapist, it would be a good first step to find a someone to talk to. They will be able to guide you with insight and resources and help you resolve your feelings. To find a therapist, you can search on line at Or you can ask others for a referral, such as your family doctor.

Here are some resources you can use to help yourself:

The Emotionally Absent Mother: A Guide to Self-Healing and Getting the Love You Missed by Jasmin Lee Cori

Becoming Attached: First Relationships and How They Shape Our Capacity to Love by Robert Karen

Adult Children of Abusive Parents: A Healing Program for Those Who Have Been Physically, Sexually, or Emotionally Abused by Steven Farmer

When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships by David Richo

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

Let me know if I can help any further,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
My partner quit drinking a year ago- I thought this would have a positive impact on our relationship- but little has changed. She is not willing to attend 12 step programs and has received 8 sessions of therapy that focused on her Mother's Alzheimer's and how the family should deal with their Mother etc.
We are scheduled for couples therapy this summer, but I already know this 20 year relationship is not what I want or need- I can not find a way to get her to see all the ways being raised in an alcoholic family affected her. So now I go to Al A Non and work on myself in therapy.
She is totally surprised I am unhappy in the relationship and I don't know if going to couples counseling is a waste of time or a good place to help end the relationship.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

It depends on how much you feel you want to end the relationship. It probably is beneficial for you to try the couples therapy but only if you feel that the end result, should it be a good outcome, would motivate you to stay in the relationship. However, if you feel that no matter the outcome you still do not want to be in the relationship, then it is best to end it now.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Is a "dry alcoholic" going to retain the personality characteristics that seem to be as much of a problem now as when she was drinking. Do some people stay sober without the benefit and self-relection a 12 step program provides along with the support etc. i don't want to be the only support system for her not to drink.
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 6 years ago.

Yes, some people can stay sober without help, but it is rare. Drinking involves so many aspects of a person life that they almost always need support of some sort, even if it is just a sponsor, a very supportive family and a therapist.

The personality traits of a person who uses is going to be the same sober or not. There needs to be a serious effort made to change this aspects of their personality if they are to be completely successful.

You cannot be the only support for your partner. Because of your emotional involvement, you are not as objective as a therapist or other support and she may not take your interventions as seriously because of it. And unless you have had a history of using, she can dismiss your interventions as "you don't understand".


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