Updated: Jan 15, 2022
Common Mistakes That Ruin Relationships
Relationships are challenging. We don't receive a lot of instruction from the educational system, and many of us don't have effective role models to use as a healthy reference. Relationships also come with a lot of ego sensitivity. Even the most laid back individuals can get quite dramatic when it comes to relationship issues and the prospect of rejection can make people do crazy things. There's no doubt that relationships are sometimes very challenging to navigate.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that ruin relationships:
1. Attempting to change the other person. If you've ever tried to lose weight or get yourself to do something you don't want to do, you know how challenging it can be to change. Welp, it's 10 times harder (and 100 times more unlikely) to change another person. Expect that your partner will never change. Assuming you can mold them into something you can live with is foolish, so be crystal clear about seeing, accepting and loving them exactly as they are, not who you'd like them to be or who they have the potential to be.
2. Avoiding confrontation at all costs. Some things aren't worth arguing about, but the things that really bother you are worth addressing. Otherwise, how will the situation ever improve? If you fail to address big or important issues, you're setting yourself up to be annoyed, hurt, or frustrated on a daily basis for the rest of your life... and it's unfair to your partner if you're harboring resentments. Hard talks are necessary from time to time.
3. Not maintaining enough distance from your ex. Your ex might still be your friend or you might even share children together, but there's a limit to what your current partner should have to deal with. Late-night, semi-intimate texts are out of line. Check your boundaries with former partners and have an honest discussion with your current partner about how they want to feel safe in these situations. Also know that unhealed "stuff" from your history with your ex can also get in the way of your current relationship; be sure you're doing the work to put those ghosts to bed or they can end up between you and your new partner.
4. Focusing on the negative. In the early stages of romantic relationships we look at our partners with rose colored glasses and often minimize or gloss over the annoying habits or the things that bug us. But, with time and familiarity, those same things once seen as cute can become major irritants. Take stock of how you're viewing your partner: do you still see mostly good? or do you see everything as bad or annoying? If you're finding yourself slipping into a pattern of negative evaluation, take a few minutes each day to jot down those things you appreciate about your partner. This intentional act of "looking for the good" will help you feel more positive about your partner.
5. Failing to communicate your needs. Our lovers are not mind-readers. It is unrealistic and unfair to not express your needs and wants to your partner. Take responsibility for your relationship and your happiness by communicating clearly and lovingly. Create a habit of checking in with your partner on a regular basis, asking them how you can better love them, and vice versa.
6. Failing to take care of yourself. Just because you're in a partnership, it's important to realize that ultimately we're all only responsible for taking care of ourselves. And, if we're not taking care of ourselves - our emotions, our bodies, our minds, and our social needs - we cannot take care of our relationship. Be sure you're each committed to self-care; eating whole, nutritious foods, hydrating, getting movement and fresh air, cultivating a spiritual relationship through prayer or meditation, and investing in supportive non-romantic relationships.
7. Moving too quickly. Relationships have a better chance for survival if they're eased into. When a relationship moves too quickly, there's often one partner that's at least a little uncomfortable with the pace, and you skip the important trust-building and communication required to really get to know someone. I know how magnetic physical chemistry can be, but if you fail to also develop the other aspects of intimacy, the relationship may not stand the test of time. Avoid rushing and enjoy the process.
8. Failing to give each other space. You have a life together. You also have separate lives. Allow each other the space to breathe. You don't have to be joined at the hip 24/7. Continue to nurture your individual relationships, hobbies, and activities and allow your partner a night or weekend off every now and then! Wanting to spend one night alone isn't a rejection...they simply may need some alone time to re-charge!
An intimate relationship can add a lot of value to your life, however, that value doesn't come cheaply. Invest in yourself and in your partnership! A few, small, intentional shifts could make all the difference.