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What is Relationship Repetition Syndrome

Relationship Repetition Syndrome

Relationship Repetition Syndrome (RRS) refers to the experience of people who find themselves in similar relationship patterns.

Relationship repetition syndrome might include…

  • People who are attracted to or date the same type of people.
  • People who find themselves in the same types of relationships.
  • People who exhibit the same type of behaviors in relationships.

RRS: Examples

Relationship Repetition Syndrome can look differently for different people. Some examples of RRS can include:

  • People attracted to the “bad boy” type
  • People attracted to individuals who are emotionally unavailable or withdrawn
  • People attracted to individuals who they see as people they can help or take of
  • People who exhibit controlling or possessive behaviors in relationships
  • People whose relationships are often quick, superficial, or not intimate
  • People whose relationships become intense or serious too quickly

RRS: Implications

Though it might not seem like it, RRS can have many negative effects on a person’s individual and relational well-being.

RRS can negatively impact us by…

  • Lowering self-esteem/worth, or reinforcing low self-esteem/worth
  • Increasing unhealthy coping, or reinforcing unhealth coping
  • Leading to break-ups, separation, or divorce
  • Increasing anxiety
  • Increasing depression
  • Eroding trust in others
  • Creating or reinforcing resentment
  • Creating or reinforcing attachment anxiety
  • Developing co-dependency

RRS: Reasons

While, RRS can lead to many harmful outcomes, there are many reasons why a person might find themselves in these relational patterns. Some reasons may include:

  • The person’s attachment style
  • The person has experienced a trauma
  • The person has gone through a betrayal
  • The person has a low self-esteem or self-worth
  • The person finds certain types of people or relationships familiar, comforting, or trust worth
  • The person believes they deserve abuse
  • The person does not have positive relationship role models
  • The person has experienced neglect

RRS Strategies: Individuals

If you are an individual who finds yourself in repetitive or patterned relationships, there are some things you can do.

  • Take some time to identify on what patterns you observe and how might they be harmful.
  • Reflect on the benefit these patterns and behaviors might bring you. Do they bring you comfort?
  • Ask yourself where might these behaviors or feelings may originate from.
  • Talk to your therapist about attachment anxiety, avoidance, or self esteem and worth.
  • Practice healthy coping skills.

RRS Strategies: Couples

If you are a couple who is dealing with harmful repetitive or patterned issues, there are some things you can do.

  • Identify what the solvable and unsolvable problems in your relationship may be.
  • Practice healthy conflict management techniques in your relationship.
  • Practice the strategies to combat the Four Horsemen communication errors.
  • Develop a team mentality for relationship problems.
  • Identify relationship goals.
  • Seek couples therapy.

This page is part of the Roamers Therapy Glossary; a collection of mental-health related definitions that are written by our therapists.


While our offices are currently located at the South Loop neighborhood of Downtown Chicago, Illinois, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more. You can visit our contact page to access detailed information on our office location.