How Psychodynamics Play Out in Our Relationships: The Role of Our Unconscious Processes

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Donovan - Life Coach

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Relationships are one of the most fundamental aspects of human existence, shaping our lives in countless ways. Whether it’s romantic partnerships, familial connections, or friendships, our relationships are a crucial part of our social fabric. At the same time, they can be incredibly complex, with a range of factors influencing our interactions and outcomes.

One such factor is psychodynamics, a term that refers to the interplay between our conscious and unconscious mental processes. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at how psychodynamics plays out in our relationships, exploring everything from communication patterns to attachment styles and beyond. By gaining a deeper understanding of these processes, we can develop healthier, more fulfilling relationships with those around us.

How Psychodynamics Play Out in Our Relationships

When it comes to psychodynamics and relationships, there are several key factors at play. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most significant ones:

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Attachment Styles

One of the most significant ways that psychodynamics impacts our relationships is through our attachment styles. Attachment theory posits that our early experiences with caregivers shape our patterns of attachment throughout our lives. For example, if we had a caregiver who was consistently warm, responsive, and nurturing, we are likely to develop a secure attachment style. This means that we feel comfortable with intimacy and can form close relationships with others.

On the other hand, if our caregiver was neglectful, inconsistent, or outright abusive, we may develop an insecure attachment style. This can manifest in several different ways, from an anxious preoccupation with our partners to avoidance of intimacy altogether.

Communication Patterns

Another key way that psychodynamics plays out in our relationships is through communication patterns. Our unconscious mental processes can impact the way we express ourselves, interpret others’ words and actions, and navigate conflict. For example, if we have a deep-seated fear of rejection, we may struggle to express our needs and desires clearly for fear of being seen as needy or demanding. Similarly, if we tend to project our feelings onto others, we may misinterpret their words or actions in a way that creates unnecessary conflict.

Power Dynamics

Power dynamics can also play a significant role in our relationships, and are often driven by unconscious processes. For example, if one partner has a greater need for control or dominance, they may exert that power in subtle or overt ways. This can lead to feelings of resentment, frustration, or even abuse in some cases.

Defence Mechanisms

Finally, our defence mechanisms can also impact our relationships in significant ways. Defence mechanisms are unconscious processes that we use to protect ourselves from uncomfortable or painful emotions. While they can be helpful in some situations, they can also create barriers to intimacy and trust in our relationships. For example, if we use projection to avoid acknowledging our flaws or insecurities, we may struggle to form deep connections with others.

How to Recognize and Address Unconscious Patterns 

Given the complex and often hidden nature of psychodynamics, it can be challenging to recognize and address unconscious patterns in our relationships. However, there are a few strategies that can be helpful in this regard:

  • Pay attention to your emotional reactions: Our emotional reactions can be a clue to underlying patterns and dynamics in our relationships. If you find yourself feeling intense emotions in certain situations or with certain people, take some time to reflect on why that might be.

  • Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can be a helpful tool for developing greater self-awareness to help you understand the difference between the present moment and the “noise” that the mind creates.

  • Seek feedback from trusted sources: Sometimes, it can be helpful to get an outside perspective on our relationships. Trusted friends or family members can provide valuable feedback on patterns they’ve noticed, or on ways that we might be unintentionally contributing to problematic dynamics.

  • Consider therapy: Finally, therapy can be an incredibly helpful resource for addressing unconscious patterns in our relationships. A skilled therapist can help us identify and unpack these patterns, as well as provide tools for developing healthier communication, attachment, and power dynamics.

Psychodynamic Coaching

In addition to therapy, there is another option for those who are looking to address unconscious patterns in their relationships: psychodynamic coaching. While therapy typically focuses on healing past wounds and developing insight into our mental processes, coaching is more action-oriented and geared towards helping us make concrete changes in our lives.

Psychodynamic coaching is based on the same principles as psychodynamic therapy but with a focus on the present and future rather than the past. It involves working with a coach to identify patterns in our behaviour and relationships and then developing strategies for shifting those patterns in real-time.

One of the main benefits of psychodynamic coaching is its focus on the here and now. While therapy can be incredibly helpful for processing past trauma and developing insight into our mental processes, it can sometimes feel like it’s taking us too far away from the present moment. Psychodynamic coaching, on the other hand, is all about making tangible changes in our relationships and daily lives.

Another benefit of psychodynamic coaching is its flexibility. While therapy typically involves weekly or bi-weekly sessions, coaching can be done on a more flexible schedule, depending on our needs and availability. This can be especially helpful for those who have busy schedules or who are looking for more immediate support.

Of course, like any form of coaching or therapy, psychodynamic coaching is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It may not be the right fit for everyone, and it’s important to find a coach who is skilled and experienced in working with the specific issues and patterns that you’re looking to address.

That said, for those who are looking for a more action-oriented approach to addressing unconscious patterns in their relationships, psychodynamic coaching can be a valuable resource. By working with a skilled coach, we can develop concrete strategies for changing our behaviour and communication patterns, and ultimately develop healthier, more fulfilling relationships with those around us.


Q: How can I tell if my relationship is impacted by unconscious patterns? A: Look for patterns in your behaviour or emotional reactions that seem to repeat themselves across different relationships or situations. For example, if you consistently find yourself attracting emotionally unavailable partners, it may be worth exploring whether this is related to an unconscious attachment style.

Q: Can unconscious patterns be changed? A: Yes! While it can be challenging to address unconscious patterns, it is possible to shift them over time. With awareness, practice, and support, we can develop healthier communication, attachment, and power dynamics in our relationships.

Q: Is it always necessary to seek therapy to address unconscious patterns in relationships? A: No, therapy is not always necessary. However, it can be a helpful resource for those who are struggling to recognize or shift patterns on their own.


In conclusion, psychodynamics plays a significant role in the way that our relationships unfold. From attachment styles to communication patterns and beyond, our unconscious mental processes can impact everything from our emotional reactions to our power dynamics.

By becoming more aware of these patterns and seeking out support when needed, we can develop healthier, more fulfilling relationships with those around us. So take some time to reflect on your patterns, and remember that change is possible!

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