The negative cycle

I  have previously mentioned in a post @ – (November 24, 2020 ‘Hundreds of arguments, usually the same one…’), some sort of negative cycle is common in your relationships and friendships.  I wanted to say some more about the common varieties that you might recognise.

When talking about cycles, be they unicycles, bicycles, tricycles or negative it has just reminded me of a joke my then 15-year-old Bolshy middle sister told me years ago.  A woman in a bar has just picked up a man and wants to take him home, when she says to him “I think I should tell you that I am on my menstrual cycle”, “That’s okay” says the man cheerily “I’ll follow you on my moped”… BOOM BOOM TISH.  Apologies and please find the full text @

In an attempt to mystify what is essentially a quite simple idea – therapists and counsellors will label repetitive arguments as ‘the couple dance’ or ‘the negative cycle’.  To you it is usually just frustration or despair as seemingly whatever you do you always end up at the same bloody place – either upsetting someone or being upset.  It is interesting to note that the very behaviour you might employ to try and defuse the situation, unintentionally, appears to inflame it.

The very repetitive / circular nature of things might cause you to realise that this is a pattern, however, once emotional responses get triggered it is very difficult to extract yourself.  Hence why Counsellors might need counselling themselves – they might be able to recognise they are in a cycle but once an emotional response is triggered, all bets are off!

And that in a nutshell is the key.  You need to recognise initially that you are in a cycle, and then break it.  Again, easier said than done.  However, what it is helpful Is that the behaviour in the cycle itself is seldom important enough to the person to avoid breaking it.  Simplistically, the emotional attachment to the other person is stronger than the emotional attachment to the negative cycle.  I have frequently seen that an individual, couple or family long to behave in a different way, but get caught up responding in the ‘expected’ way – to avoid losing face or being seen as vulnerable.  The expected way is like a choreographed ‘dance’.  It’s easier to act in a certain way as everyone knows their part.

How do you break the cycle?  Do something different, maybe admit to the other you are stuck.  Talk to each other back-to-back, ask the other if this is helpful or maybe highlight that this is ‘just’ a cycle and how you might change your behaviour together.

All of this can that be easier with an independent third party.  If you feel you might need further guidance please don’t just ignore it and arrange a free assessment at

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