I’ve been in a long term relationship for a while now, so I thought I’d use my small bit of wisdom on the topic to help you all avoid or remedy the 10 biggest relationship mistakes that people make.
- They expect their partner, or a potential partner, to be what they are not.I’ve spent a MASSIVE chunk of my sort-of current relationship completely putting my partner up on a pedestal – thinking he was a prince and that I was his princess and that everything would turn out perfectly like a literal Disney movie. Well, that was very wrong. He has his flaws. He has A LOT of flaws in fact, and they aren’t going to ever change or go anywhere. They are a part of who he is, and aspects of him that I “put up with for now” are in reality things that I will have to put up with for as long as I am in a committed relationship with him.
We have to be careful to avoid black and white thinking too though. He’s also not a terrible person! He is kind and sweet, and it is all too easy to demonise someone when you realise that they aren’t this idealised version of them that you’ve created in your mind.
This mistake has cost me a whole lot of time, energy and joy. If there are parts of a person that you don’t like right now – whether that’s their hair style, the way they like to spend a lot of time by themselves or the fact that they really hate commitment, you have to realise that these things might genuinely never change, because maybe that person LIKES those things about themselves!
Nobody is going to change something about themselves if they like or value or don’t have an issue with said thing. Not even for YOU! They are who they are because that is exactly who they want to be at that given time, and you have to respect them enough to truly believe that.
- They develop a case of “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome.
When you’ve become so accustomed to the things like the home you live in, having a best friend who you live with, being able to travel because of the fact that they work, the fact that they make and bring you dinner everyday etc, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking “Well, maybe somebody else could provide / satisfy ______ that my current partner isn’t”.The truth is though that finding somebody you’re compatible with isn’t very easy. Yes, there are billions of people in the world, but that large number narrows very quickly when you take into consideration the fact that a lot of those people are already taken, a lot of those people won’t be your preferred sex/gender, many of them won’t be within a reasonable distance of your current location, many won’t be within your preferred age range – and that’s BEFORE weeding out the ones who you aren’t physically attracted to, the ones your personality doesn’t mesh well with and the ones who you just don’t enjoy the personality of. And then there’s being compatible in other ways – dietary, religious beliefs, your love languages.
My point is, the grass often ISN’T greener on the other side. Yes, sometimes it is, but it often isn’t, and I think this pattern of thought is destructive and leads to being only half committed to your relationship because of the idea that there might be someone better for you out there.
- Being dishonest with each other and themselves.
I am a very very big advocate for 100% honesty in a relationship, and frequently express my feelings and opinions to my partner, and also do a lot of self-reflecting by myself.My partner on the other hand… Although it isn’t his intention, he doesn’t find it very easy to be 100% transparent and honest with himself or with me, which causes massive bouldering problems down the line that may have become almost impossible to resolve anymore because of how entangled the issue is with everything.
It just is really really bad to not be 100% obvious with your partner. They can’t read minds and only know what you feel or think about something from you telling them that you think or feel that way! Delaying or avoiding communication with your partner just causes a lot of hurt down the road.
- Not focussing on yourself & self development enough when in a relationship.
I am SO guilty of this! I’ve spent the majority of my relationship so obsessed about the relationship itself and about things that my partner weren’t doing or were doing that were upsetting me, that I just sort of neglected to actually save enough energy to grow as a person much myself.That’s not to say I haven’t grown much in terms of my views or anything like that – I purely mean things like gaining new skills, making new friends, visiting family frequently, joining clubs, volunteering, getting jobs, learning to cook new recipes, learning new instruments etc…
Fretting and obsessing over a relationship is extremely isolating, and you will GREATLY regret getting so wrapped up in it all. That’s not to say that enjoying the fact that you’re in a relationship, are in love etc is an issue. Enjoy it! Just make sure you keep the amount of time you’re thinking about your relationship to not the entire day – not even half the day! Try to limit your relationship stuff to maybe a MAXIMUM of 4 hours of your day, so you get AT LEAST a whole 75% to yourself, your friends or whatever else you want or have or should have in your life that ISN’T relationship related! Honestly, closer to 3 hours is probably better.
What I mean by this is 3 hours of your THINKING TIME! You have 16 hours a day not just to DO things, but you also spend that time thinking – and it is that thinking that can become very very draining and obsessive.
Another way this can become an issue is if you’re spending all of those 3 hours thinking about said person, without actually being present with them. That’s also very unhealthy and leads to a very warped and unreal view of the relationship because the majority of it is just fantasised and thought about in your head! Keep the thinking whilst NOT present with your partner to an hour or so a day. This is very difficult to control but it’s important enough to really give it a good try!
- Allowing your relationship to “peak” too early.
I think one of the biggest secrets to a successful, happy relationship is keeping a steady pace. Yes, you want it to be exciting at the start, but that doesn’t mean you want to be spending every moment together only to feel a bit down when 5 years later you realise your partner hardly ever chooses to spend their time with you at all!I think it’s best to be on an incline. You should always be growing together and have new, exciting ideas on the horizon. You shouldn’t be making really good and exciting steps forward (like spending a good amount of time together), only to then take those same, progressive steps back later down the line.
Don’t get lazy! Your relationship should be worth MORE down the line, and therefore be worthy of MORE achievements together and MORE enjoyment when time is spent together, as opposed to less.
- Not learning about love languages.
It’s easy to feel hurt when your partner isn’t really showing they care about you in the same way that you show them that you care about them, but it shouldn’t be too hurtful. Maybe it comes less naturally for them to show you love in that way. Maybe they are showing you love in other ways that you find less meaningful, but that hold the most meaning to them.Partners should learn about each other’s love language and how they work right near the beginning of their relationship together to avoid hurt feelings down the line! It’s also easier to adapt your behaviours at the start of a relationship than it is to unlearn / learn new patterns of how you show love when you’ve been having the same patterns for years!
- They say they’ll do something, and then they don’t.
This could be something small, like “I’ll send that letter after work!”, or something big, like “I’ll be happy for us to get married in a year’s time!”The only thing that happens when you don’t follow through with what you say is that you end up damaging the trust your partner has in you. It may only seem like a small thing at the time, but little by little, you’re creating cracks in the foundation of your relationship.
If you say you’ll do something, that you believe something, feel something, think something – make sure you really mean and follow through with those things. Don’t endlessly disappoint and hurt your partner. If you’re not 100% sure that you really do think or feel a certain way or that you will do said task, don’t voice those things at all! It’s far kinder to not say the things that you think your partner wants to hear, when you don’t really mean them, than it is to just not say anything at all. It will also keep their trust for you growing throughout the relationship, rather than declining!
Also, being untrustworthy is quite frankly annoying for your partner and wastes their time. Be respectful toward them!
- They get into a relationship without working on mental health problems.
This is a difficult one, and I’m sure isn’t the most popular of opinions. This comes from my own experience. Neither me nor my partner are very mentally healthy, and would definitely have benefitted from working on our own mental health before getting into a relationship with each other.Having mental health issues warps your entire perspective of everything that’s going on in a relationship. Now, I know that a lot of mental health conditions can’t be fully “cured” or might take a very long time to improve, and I’m not saying that mentally ill people don’t deserve to be in a loving relationship.
What I am saying is that if working on your mental health / them working on their mental health / both of you working on your mental health is something that you realistically could do before getting into a relationship, it’s something you probably should do. Because, once you’re in a relationship, it’s MUCH harder to find that sort of quality time to invest in improving your mental health.
- When they don’t appreciate how special their partner is.This is similar to some of the past mistakes in this list, although it isn’t quite the same as getting “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome, and isn’t quite the same as getting lazy in the relationship. This mistake is directly related to what you see in your partner.
Let’s put this another way. If you currently have a partner, and truly imagine them really enjoying being happy and in love in a relationship with somebody else, how does that make you feel?
When you imagine those sorts of situations, the things you adore about your partner and find special about them and the things that make you feel so proud that they’re your partner, suddenly become much clearer. The same thing should happen when your partner imagines the scenario where you are in a very happy, loving, successful relationship with somebody else that adores everything about you.
It’s important to realise that you chose your partner for a reason and you have stuck with them for a reason. They are special, unique, beautiful on the outside and inside, understand you, took care of you when nobody else did.
Again, that’s not to say that this is the case for everyone, but in a lot of cases, I think people lose sight of the sparkling diamond that their partner is, and take advantage of how precious they are.
- When both members of the relationship give up the fight, and stop trying.
It can be very difficult to pick a relationship up when it feels really battered and damaged, when you’ve lost hope and faith and trust, when you no longer feel that child-like excitement about what comes next, when you’ve settled into the rut of just maintaining the status-quo.It is hard, and quite frankly, when you’re feeling so down about your relationship, it can feel pointless to get up and try again. Sometimes it just feels like a one-sided, losing battle.
And you know what? It shouldn’t be that hard. Nobody is wrong in thinking “Perhaps it’s time to give up and call it a day” when a relationship gets to this point. You’re all right in thinking that it should be simpler than this.
But the fact is, it doesn’t always go according to plan.
Just because maintaining a health relationship would be simple in an ideal world, that doesn’t change the fact that in reality, keeping your current relationship healthy and happy at this moment in time is difficult.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is wrong. Maybe you were young when you got together – not really knowing what you’re doing can lead to the foundations of your relationship to have been laid poorly, causing ruts like this down the line.
Or, maybe you and your partner are just quite different to each other, and think quite differently to each other. If you still think each other are special and if you still have a tiny spark of hope left, then this isn’t a reason to give up. Sure, you’ll have to work harder than other couples who just seem to “fit” perfectly together, but not meshing perfectly with your partner doesn’t mean that they aren’t the perfect partner for you.
If you stop trying, the rut you’re in will only get deeper, darker, more oppressive. You have to bring some life and joy into your relationship. You HAVE to give your relationship the time it deserves. You need to spend time really thinking about how you can build this back up again, and you need to spend the time and energy to actually follow through with your ideas. Don’t give up!