My goal this year was to put my focus on improving all aspects of my life.
Especially my relationships with friends and my partner. I’m the type of person who does get comfortable in relationships, but the moment I notice it, I snap out of it and immediately want to address the issues.
From personal experience, if you’re not growing and advancing as a couple, you’re most likely plateauing. And, if you don’t want to plateau, you need to identify what you need to work on as a couple to advance. This means avoiding certain situations that can make you backtrack.
All relationships are tricky with their own unique challenges; however, here are five common mistakes you should try to avoid making for a healthy and happy relationship.
Not having alone time and being too co-dependent.
If every second of your life is spent with someone else, you lose who you are as an individual.
It’s inevitable. How can you create your own thoughts, beliefs, and opinions when you’re around someone 24/7?
When I was younger, the majority of my time was spent with other people. Family members, friends, boyfriends, I had someone around 24/7. I didn’t even go to Trader Joe’s without someone with whom to consult.
I moved to LA when I was 20, and I was completely alone. It was the best and most liberating time of my life to think independently, make decisions by myself, drive to places without someone in my passenger seat, and eat whatever I wanted for dinner without someone else’s input.
I’d spend the whole day at the beach or coffee shop without someone nagging me to go home.
I believe I’m fortunate; not many women I know experience true singleness in their lives. They go from living with their parents to living with their partners and not knowing what true freedom tastes like.
This is why it’s imperative to have alone time within your relationship, making time for you to think about yourself, your priorities, and your goals as an individual. And your partner should do the same.
You’ll both benefit from alone time and have a richer life as a result.
Saying, “I’m fine.”
Or everything is okay, or nothing is wrong when something is clearly bothering you.
I was the type of person who would sweep issues under the rug with previous relationships despite how much they would nag at me. I would see other people in my family doing it — staying silent despite wanting to scream — so I would follow in their footsteps.
It’s a lot easier and less painful to say “nothing is wrong” when you’re clearly hurting, but it’s a temporary band-aid fix that doesn’t resolve anything.
You either end up staying angry and resentful, or you move on and sweep the unresolved issue under the rug, which only gives it the opportunity to arise days, weeks, or months later with an even greater ugliness.
I know it’s not easy to be bold. I know it’s not easy to admit to your partner that your feelings are hurt, or they said something that rubbed you the wrong way; trust me, I get it.
The moment you stop living in your head, worrying so much about what your partner or whoever will think of you if you genuinely speak your mind — that’s when you’ll start to feel empowered. Embrace your boldness.
Tell it how it really is.
Comparing your current partner to your ex.
Psychologist Lauren Gentile, Ph.D., tells Bustle,
When something triggers a memory of something that made you feel really happy and loved, it’s not uncommon to dwell in those feelings. That’s why thinking of your ex while you’re with someone new happens even if you don’t intend to.
It’s normal to feel triggered by moments you feel you’ve experienced before with someone else, and it’s okay, but what isn’t okay is dwelling on those moments — analyzing them, wondering why your ex did x, y, and z while your current partner does a, b and c.
You need to accept and understand that despite how you might feel, your past relationships should never interfere with your current ones, out of respect for your partner and yourself.
It takes time to develop the same level of intimacy, but you left that relationship for a reason, and spending any time at all thinking or comparing it to your current life is a massive waste of time.
People can get stuck comparing the feeling of comfort and closeness they experienced with an ex to their current partner and feel like the new relationship doesn’t measure up. It’s important to recognize that it takes time to develop a certain level of intimacy. You can’t really compare a new relationship to one that already had the chance to develop things like closeness and comfort over time. — Lauren Gentile
Every single person is unique, and instead of comparing, learn from your past relationships and give the people who enter your life a clean slate.
And try avoiding telling your partner, “My ex did that x, y, and z all the time,” because comparing someone you care about to someone you don’t can be hurtful and could give your partner the wrong idea.
I’ve been there, and it’s just not the way to go.
Not taking differences in core values and morals seriously.
If you and your partner don’t have similar beliefs and values, the progression and advancement of your relationship as a couple will be extremely difficult.
I dated two different individuals who did not want children, and it was a huge deal for me because as someone who wants to have a family one day, that was a deal-breaker for me.
However, because we didn’t discuss this at the start of our relationship, it was difficult to leave the relationship.
I kept fooling myself into thinking maybe they will change their mind, but you can’t move forward with life with that kind of mindset. What will happen when the time comes, and they don’t change their mind? You’ve just invested years of your life into them based on hope.
You might love one another, you might enjoy the same kind of food, music, movies, etc., but you have to have those hard conversations early on.
If you want to travel the world and experience a different lifestyle and your partner is deadset on living in their hometown — how will that work?
If your partner has different religious views than you and the only reason the two of you don’t talk about it is that you know it will start an argument — how will that work?
If you’re someone who is all about self-improvement, business, making money, and your partner likes to budget and spends their days in front of the TV calling out of work all the time — how will that work?
There’s nothing wrong with budgeting by the way, but not everyone is the same when it comes to finances.
Take time to discuss these things before moving your relationship forward, or you might end up heartbroken and disappointed later.
Not putting in any effort.
Relationships are work. You might think entering one will mean incredible happiness every single day with endless foot rubs and coffee in bed, but it doesn’t work that way.
Your relationship won’t solve all your problems, it might bring you temporary happiness, but unless you put in the necessary work and effort, it won’t give you everlasting happiness.
Every relationship, platonic included, needs care and attention for it to grow into a healthy and long-lasting partnership.
You don’t just jump into a life with someone and expect it to work without continuously putting in the work. Just like you don’t expect a plant to grow without constant watering and sunshine.
When I was a kid at youth camp, a guest speaker was talking about how he met his wife on Facebook, and one thing I remember to this day is him saying, “You should never stop dating your wife,” and maybe that forced me to set high expectations but ever since then, that thought stuck with me.
Every partner I dated, the moment they stopped putting in the effort, was the moment I knew it wasn’t right.
It was heartbreaking at the moment, but as I’m sitting here writing this, with coffee in hand and my partner reminding me about our date night this evening, I think to myself, everything happens for a reason.
You have to trust that the hard decisions you choose to make are the right ones.
It’s so easy to become complacent in a relationship, it’s easy to bail on date night, it’s easy to forget to show your appreciation for your partner, it’s easy to sweep your problems under the rug and pretend everything is okay, but at the end of the day if you want it to work you need to remember it takes focused effort to make it work.
These are scenarios I’ve personally gone through and learned from immensely.
I’m a romantic, I go about love differently from the people I know, and the only reason I do so is because of the thoughts and opinions I developed during my single life.
Learning how to live with someone and do life with someone is an ongoing learning process.
One I will never stop trying to understand in order to try to do it to the best of my ability because, at the end of the day, I want to be happy, and I want my partner to be happy.
If you’re just now getting into a relationship, or you’re already in one, I hope you avoid the mistakes I made, and I hope this helps you.