You know the same expression you make when you’re happy? It could be the exact expression your mother made, and her mother made too when they were happy. It’s weird how we can have certain hand gestures, ways of speaking, or body movements that mirror the generations before us, whether we interacted with them or not. I’d like to think that it becomes natural to model some of the same mannerisms of those you grew up with, intentionally or not. As you take a closer look, you may be living your life not even realizing that you have become a slightly altered remake of the same individuals (e.g. your parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents) that came before you. Now, you are walking, talking, and perhaps thinking in similar ways they did.
Dating patterns are no different.
Your grandmother dated a certain way. Your mother dated a certain way. Now, you too date a certain way. Within those three generations you all may have experienced some of the same results. A psychologist Albert Bandura developed the social learning theory, which explores how children observe, then imitate the behaviors of individuals close to them. Ultimately, children model their parents’ (or caregivers’) behavior, as it doesn’t always matter what one says; it more importantly matters what one does. So think about that as it pertains to love.
Are you experiencing some of the same dating dilemmas that generations prior to you experienced as well? What type of men do you keep attracting or dating? Do these men reflect the values that you hope to model within your own family? These are insightful questions worth exploring. It’s inevitable that you will keep experiencing the same results, if you date the same guys over and over again. The pattern stops with you now, Sis. You can do better, you deserve better, and importantly, your future requires your intentionality in how you date. Who you date and marry influence the behaviors passed down to your children and their children. If you have been caught up in a whirlwind of unhealthy situations, it could be helpful for you to take a break from dating. Focus on healing alone, experiencing God’s love, and then being pursued by a man who will love you like Christ. Set out to break generational curses alone. Then, marry someone who has done the same work by himself as he may be likelier to work together in breaking generational behaviors as a unit. Also, exploring transgenerational patterns is not implying or suggesting that your parents or family were “bad” individuals. They’re human, like you and I. We can all look at the obstacles and triumphs of previous generations and use them to propel us to be better, if we want to be. You have many choices daily and this is one.
Let’s move to having conversations with our family about their past dating experiences. Let’s gain an understanding of what went well and what could have gone better. We are not responsible for the patterns that have been passed down to us, yet we are responsible for starting to break the cycle and being adamant in changing them. That’s the power we hold.
While my focus is women, this topic is appropriate for men as well. This specific matter doesn’t discriminate against genders. It’s time to create awareness and become accountable for the transmission of our intergenerational patterns.
Will you let “love” pass down or will you be courageous and create a new meaning to what healthy love looks like for generations to come?