Schemas play a huge role in relationships. Without full awareness, we are often drawn to partners where there is a "schema chemistry." For example, if you feel unworthy of love, you may choose a person who has a schema based on mistrust and is unable to commit. You then interpret their lack of commitment as proof of your unlovability. Therefore, the negative schema beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies because they prompt us to behave in ways that make the schema true or to choose people whose behave towards us in ways that match the negative schema.
What Are Some Common Schemas?
- EMOTIONAL DEPRIVATION - You don't believe that other people are capable of or motivated to respond to your emotional needs. You automatically take care of others or are drawn to partners who are unable to give (like narcissists) while building up resentment and loneliness over time.
- SELF-SACRIFICE - You feel overly responsible for the wellbeing of others. You put your own needs aside in order to care for others and in so doing, don't give them the opportunity to experience consequences of their actions and change.
- VULNERABILITY TO HARM - You are not able to trust your successes, relationships, financial security, safety, or abilities, believing they can be taken from you at any moment and you won't be able to cope.
- ENTITLEMENT - You believe you deserve special treatment or that you have to fulfill every need and desires. You believe the rules don't apply to you. You experience "wants"as "needs" and can get needy and demanding.
- DEFECTIVENESS - You feel there is something wrong with you, that you are unlovable, incompetent, or "bad." You don't trust your own judgment and don't feel you deserve good treatment. You are drawn to people or situations in which you are treated badly.
- ABANDONMENT - You fear that partners or friends will leave you. You may inhibit yourself and avoid showing your true feelings for fear it will cause others to reject you. You don't feel that loved ones can tolerate knowing how you really feel or who you really are. Alternatively, you may get jealous and controlling, which drives others away.
- We behave in ways that maintain them.
- We interpret our experiences in ways that make them seem true, even if they really aren’t.
- In efforts to avoid pain, we restrict our lives so we never get to test them out
- We sometimes overcompensate and act in just as rigid, oppositional ways that interfere with our relationships.