Each week, spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra responds to Oprah.com users' questions with enlightening advice to help them live their best lives.
Q: Why is it some people go through life making poor choices in relationships? I have had four relationships that were long lasting but ended (one for 20 years). I always wanted a relationship that would last a lifetime. Loving, happy, fulfilling. But they don't last. Is this a lesson I'm suppose to learn in this lifetime?
— Marcia W., Concord, California
You've asked a deep question, and I imagine every reader can't wait to hear the answer. At 58 years old, you have no excuse for being naive. You have seen your patterns. You've seen the same mistakes being repeated. Multiple partners have sent you a reflection of who you are and what you are doing. So, yes, indeed, this is a lesson you need to learn in this lifetime.
But we don't have to use quasi-spiritual language. This is a lesson you need to learn today, as a way of finding out who you are. The problem here isn't bad choices. The problem is that you don't know yourself, and therefore how can you be expected to judge another person accurately? Certain obstacles are hindering you, and the list is fairly long:
Wanting to fulfill a fantasy.
Denying what is before your eyes.
Trying to reinforce a cherished self-image.
Buying into beliefs that don't fit reality.
Stubbornly insisting that your way is the right way.
Depending on others too much, or the opposite, trying to control others too much.
Imitating your parents' relationship or the opposite, trying to have the opposite of their relationship.
Repeating the past because you distrust the future.
Projecting on to others what you cannot face inside yourself.
These are the big 10 ideas to keep in mind when it comes to relationships that repeatedly fail by falling into the same repetitive problems. Getting past these obstacles requires change on your part. I am not blaming you. Our society doesn't teach us the kind of coping skills that lead to healthy relationships. Everyone is basically self-taught, and many people don't want to learn. Therefore, such basic things as having arguments, reconciling differences, learning to adapt to someone else's habits and asking for love from the right people are a mystery to millions of people.
I can't solve your frustration. Only you can do that. But if you seriously consider every item on the list and write down how it applies to you, self-awareness will begin to grow. Awareness is the golden key, and you need to turn it.