The Most Common Relationship Mistakes You Can Avoid

It’s hard to admit it…   The honeymoon stage is over. You are starting to experience the ups and downs of being in a relationship.   You care enough about this person to want to stick around and make things work because you feel they are worthy to be a part of your life.   You want to ensure this time around your relationship will not spiral down a rabbit hole leaving you alone again.   Here are some common mistakes that people (i.e. me) have made and to avoid:  

Wanting to Control and Change the Person

  You know it is difficult to try and control and change a person. The only way someone is going to change is when they want to and are ready to change.   That being said, remember why you fell in love with your significant other in the first place? What qualities attracted you to them? How did they make you feel?   After all you deliberately chose to be with them.   So the qualities you fell in love with must really align with your values.   Or you must see some potential in each other that made you guys connect and wanting to be together.   For example, you may like someone who is more carefree and extraverted than you. However, sometimes they can drive you nuts with their restlessness and needing to be social. And you have to remember you love this person’s outgoing nature because they bring out a lot of fun and liveliness into your life that you value.   So instead of nagging and trying to change them to be more like you. Accept and appreciate them for who they are, what they bring to the relationship and how they make you feel.   And if at any time you feel you have outgrown the relationship you have to ask yourself the hard question. Am I willing to sacrifice who I am or leave a relationship that is not giving me what I want out of life?   This is a tough question and there’s no right and wrong answer. There is only a right and wrong answer for you based on the factors and circumstances in your life.  

Not speaking up

  We all know communication is key to building a successful relationship.   But we often avoid expressing our needs when we are uncomfortable with conflict or we care about what others might think.   To strengthen the bond between you and your partner it is important to start ‘checking in’ and stop ‘chickening’ out when it comes to sharing your feelings.   The purpose of ‘checking in’ is it alleviates the need for you to be a mind reader. It allows each person to speak their mind openly and honestly about something that may have bothered them earlier in the week so that any issues or misunderstandings can be cleared and resolved.   Of course, before you start ‘checking in' you and your partner may want to set up some ground rules between the two of you before you dive into uncharted territories.   And yes it is easier said than done.   However, like a boiling pot of hot water you don’t want to keep a lid on it because sooner or later the water will spill out uncontrollably, as will all the negative emotions you’ve been keeping in check.  

Lack of honesty

  Trust is the foundation of a relationship. When this is compromised it not only takes more time and effort to rebuild the relationship, it involves your partner to be willing to get on board.   Often times their decision is beyond your control.   So avoid keeping secrets and embrace vulnerability. To paraphrase Brene Brown, Be open and honest about how you feel, ask for what you need, have the hard conversations.   This will free up space in your brain, take the weight off your shoulder, remove the dis-ease you are holding onto. And your body and mind will thank you, as it no longer has to double its energy to hide and keep your secrets safe.   After all, nobody is perfect.  

Not Listening

  We all crave to be heard. When your partner is angry or upset and is expressing their negative feelings, it is easy to get defensive and start justifying the circumstance from your perspective, which can escalate into conflict.   Instead of needing to get your words in, practice empathic listening. Be attentive to the emotions they are expressing, listen without judgment. Let the other person finish their rant and pay attention to the emotion they are feeling.   Once they have completed their rant, guess their emotions.   i.e. You are Angry. You are upset.   You’ll be amazed by how this simple technique co-developed by Doug Noll, a full time peacemaker can diffuse and de-escalate the emotions between you and your partner.   Invite your partner to help you understand what they are seeing. Ask your partner, what am I not seeing here? Help me see why you see things the way you see it, as seen on Oprah with Rob Bell and his wife on Super Soul Sunday.  

Believing it is your partner’s job to make you happy

  It is not your partner's job to make you happy.   That is a tall order for anyone to fulfill. Imagine if your partner expected this of you.   For goodness sakes, I have a hard enough time keeping myself happy 24/7.   So continue to find ways to make yourself happy. Keep hanging out with your friends. Explore your interests and maintain your own lives while creating one together.   Why?   Because this is what fuels your relationship, this is what keeps it fresh.   Having your own friends and interests can help you get through the thick and thin, the good and the bad, the highs and lows. They are your lifelines that enables you to blow off steam, get a good laugh and are invaluable to your health and happiness when you are fighting with your loved ones or when they are not around.   So continue to have your own life.  

Not taking the time to understand each other’s love language

  We all have different ideals of love and relationships that stem from how we were raised and the environment we grew up in. Factoring personality and generation gap, it can make it even more complex.   We create our own set of beliefs of what constitutes love and go about expressing love for others the way we perceive it.   Dr. Gary Chapman talks about the five basic ways to express love emotionally. And if we want someone to feel loved, we need to learn the primary love language they speak and express it in a way they feel loved.   The 5 love languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.   So define your ideal relationships? What makes you feel loved?   Do you want your partner to be more physically and emotionally expressive?   Be more communicative?   To spend more time with you?   To appreciate the things you do for them?   To listen and carry out actions that means something to you?   For some hearing the words ‘I love you’ and physical touch is enough. For others like myself, I really feel loved when the guy I’m with is attentive, thoughtful and follows through, carrying out something he said he was going to do.   To fill up each other’s love tank you need to get to know each other’s love language.   Remember being in a relationship is a process and a journey. It takes practice, patience and persistency from both parties to make it work.   You are ready.   Don't make the same mistakes I made.  You now are in a better position to use this information to build a successful relationship with your love.   Photo by Lenka Marusak

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