How to Break the Toxic Patterns in Your Love Life (With Marie Forleo)

Do you find yourself always chasing the same type of people in dating? 

It can be incredibly frustrating when you get caught in familiar toxic patterns. You want to throw your hands up and say, “How did this happen again?”

If you want to break this pattern, today’s new video of my conversation with author and entrepreneur Marie Forleo is a must-watch. Don’t miss it!

We recently had a special event where Coach, Author, and Speaker Marie Forleo joined my members and me in the Love Life Club. It was an amazing conversation. We did a whole round of questions and coaching for my members. If you weren’t there, I wanted to bring you a small clip from that session that you could watch here today. There’s also a longer part of the conversation on the Love Life podcast. So if you enjoy this, at the end of this clip, I’ll share a link for you to go and listen to that on the podcast. But for now, enjoy this special part of a conversation I had with Marie Forleo.

When you say that it would be good for people to be more curious—whether it’s a new app, a new social gathering, or a different kind of person than they’re used to, someone might be thinking: “So, am I supposed to go for someone I’m not attracted to? And will that serve me long-term if I feel bored in the relationship? Or if I don’t feel physically attracted to someone even though they’re perfectly lovely to me?”

What do you say to people about which parts of that blueprint to shed, but also how to find attraction in new sources than the ones that either keep hurting them or keep rejecting them or don’t seem to exist in the form of a real relationship?

So let’s tackle the blueprint first, because I think this is really interesting. I remember my own history in New Jersey. I was dating basically the same guy in different bodies again and again—like somebody who’s got a lot of muscles, definitely goes to a tanning salon, and is wearing gold chains. So I had that same type of boyfriend and it never quite worked out. And I remember when I first saw my partner, Josh, he was not that. He was very different. None of who he was on paper was my “blueprint” at all. It was almost like the opposite.

And yet, Matthew, I felt more myself around him than anyone I had ever dated. I felt more me. So the qualities that were seeming to get amplified were the best qualities in me: my sense of humor, my heart, my desire to be expressive.

And I noticed that blueprint just melting away because of who I started showing up as, and then I started thinking back and I was like, “Wow, when I was dating all those same guys over and over again, the most insecure parts of me were showing up—where I felt needy or grabby or like I wasn’t enough. I was so floored by how diametrically different I felt, and how I was showing up, that that’s what made the blueprint melt away.

So what I would just encourage is if you have that incredible bravery to put yourself into new situations and say “yes” to that party or social event, or maybe just having a coffee date, do it. When it comes to any type of exposure to other people who, again, don’t fit your blueprint . . . just do it from a place of playfulness and non-expectation. Start seeing how you show up differently with different humans, regardless of what their external form is. And this is something I think most of us know, but I can never hear it enough.

I think when we’re kind of in our late teens and 20s and even 30s, there’s still so much around physical attraction. The physical attraction, of course, is incredibly important. We know that. But we all also know that that stuff doesn’t last. It just doesn’t. We all change and evolve as we get older. And one of the things that’s really come to me is how grateful I am that I chose and continue to love someone because of who they are on the inside. I’ve watched myself change. It’s not a bad thing; it’s a beautiful thing.

Part of our human journey is that we’re not going to look the same, and the external shell is going to change, and it’s going to be different, but what are the qualities of that person that you want to be with? How big is their heart? Are they loyal? When you’re with them, do they make you feel like what you have to say and what you think is important? And I think that’s so individual for all of us. So for me as a person, freedom is my number one value in life—to be with a man who really respects and gets how important my freedom is to me . . . and this is just little stuff.

The other thing that was really important to me was: I was very clear that I didn’t want to have biological kids. And so many of the guys I dated beforehand who fit that blueprint, they were like, “Okay, so we’re gonna get married and we’re gonna have kids. . .”

I was like, “Have you heard what I’ve said to you? I have no interest in any of that. I don’t want kids. I don’t want to get married.”

So for me, it was a lot about the experience of being with people outside of my “blueprint” who taught me it’s about those inner qualities and how I show up with that person that made all the difference. So pay less attention to your head. Don’t get twisted about the complicatedness of it, and just get your butt out there and start feeling your way into new truths.

I suppose a lot of people don’t ever get into the situation where they can have enough proximity to feel at home with someone or notice that their best qualities are coming out. If they’re dating mostly online, people outside the blueprint usually don’t even get through the door because they don’t look the way the people they normally go for look.

So I think real life still has a particular advantage: We can surprise ourselves in real life, but we rarely surprise ourselves on dating apps.

We don’t go through dating apps scrolling and suddenly get surprised that we’re attracted to someone who looks nothing like the kind of people we’re normally attracted to. But in real life, someone can look nothing like our blueprint, and because of something that’s going on in-person, we’re surprised and we do give them that extra chance. So I think it’s another reason why even if dating apps are part of the portfolio of action you take in your dating life, real life and putting yourself in situations where you can bump into people and have surprising interactions is really important.

But for people who find themselves in that situation, how did you listen to that and not go back to your programming? Because our wiring can be so strong. We have been attracted to a certain kind of person or even a certain dynamic. We think we hate being the one chasing, or the one who feels like we’re being needy, or someone who’s hard to get, but we’re addicted to something about that dynamic, and there’s kind of a rush to getting a person like that, whereas a person who’s just standing in front of us, facing us, meeting us where we are, may seem almost vanilla by comparison to that person who normally makes us work for it.

The person who makes us work for it inevitably breaks our heart, but we’re used to that wiring. You’ve spoken a lot about listening to your body—listening to how you feel about things, being in touch with yourself. Perhaps that’s part of the answer.

Often, when we come across something that’s alien, even if it feels good—or maybe we’re not even in touch with ourselves enough to be able to consciously know that it feels good—we very quickly go, “That’s interesting, but now I’m going to go straight for that guy who won’t text me back.”

How did you switch your programming so that you actually listened to that feeling of, “Wow, I feel more at home here”? And I’m not suggesting for one moment that you don’t have physical attraction to your partner, but did you think, “That might be the more important thing here rather than trying to find the most physically attractive person in the room or the person who instantly excites me the most because they replicate some blueprint I’ve had in the past”?

Yeah, the bad boy thing, 100%. I think for me, the relationships I had before were so painful and so torturesome. Because I’m someone who’s very creative and bold and ambitious, it almost felt like my dating/relationship life was this big black hole of a pain in the ass where my not-best-self was coming up. It was taking me off-track, and I was insecure. It was like, “What am I doing? Who is this?”

It was taking up so much emotional, mental, and psychological space in my life that wasn’t good. It wasn’t like it was exciting either. And then all of a sudden, I had this contrast where I was like, “Wow, this guy’s fun. He’s funny. He’s different. I’m showing up differently.” And it’s as though I felt like I expanded, realizing, “Oh my gosh, this is what a healthy relationship can be like?”

That’s what helped me break that pattern, because I was so used to this pattern of negativity that suddenly just went away. It’s almost like if you’re used to an air conditioner being on in the room, and you’re just living with that hum all the time, and you’re like, “Oh, I must just have to live with this. This is what the sound is and it’s just grating on me.”

And then all of a sudden, you turn off the air conditioner and you’re like, “Wait a minute, it can be different?” I didn’t even know it could be different. And so there was this rush or surge of newness for me. That’s what it was like.

I think for each of us as human beings, we have to decide: How do we want the quality of our lives to be? How do we want the quality of our relationships to be? What are we truly interested in? And for me, I was clear that I wanted a partner who was fun and trustworthy and someone who intrinsically felt like loyalty, like where we had a lineup of inner values.

I’m very clear on my inner values and they’re incredibly important to me. I wanted to be able to talk about money. I wanted to talk about and be excited about my career. I wanted to be able to be with someone who really got the intensity of who I am and didn’t try to dial me down. That’s aside from the marriage and the kids thing. So I think another piece of breaking that habitual pattern is getting clear about: What are the values that are important to you and how do you want this love life to go?

And if you’re kind of meeting with people who make you think, “No, that ain’t possible,” trust yourself and move on.

I think business and love are “numbers games.” If you believe in such a thing as “I want to have a beautiful, healthy long-term relationship,” then let it be a numbers game until you find a relationship.

It’s the same thing in business. If you just go at bat, and go for only one client or try to make a sale once a month or once a week, you’re going to be a lot slower to build that business than the person who’s like, “Okay, you don’t want what I have to offer? Okay, next!” And you do it with a smile and you do it with enthusiasm. Does that take practice? Yeah. Is it easier said than done? Yeah. But it works.

I hope you enjoyed that clip. If you want to listen to the rest of the conversation, which was fantastic—we covered so much great ground in relation to dating, relationships, and life—go check it out. It’s on the Love Life podcast.

While you’re at it, become a regular listener of the podcast. Why not? There are new episodes every week that can help you with love and with life.

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