A few weeks ago, a striking video went viral. In it, the girl detailed a life-changing piece of knowledge. “He’s not your type, he’s your pattern.” It was a revelation to millions. The pattern. So much of what we get right and what we get wrong in our relationships ties into our own patterns.
Everyday, my clients come to me and want help changing the people around them. But so much of the pain that they’re in is because of their own patterns. Their habits have led them, hand-in-hand, with people who don’t love them, who don’t appreciate them. Instead of fixing the people on the outside, I have to help them see what could be adjusted on the inside for maximum satisfaction and the right environment.
If you’re not finding the relationships that satisfy our desire to be loved, then we have to look at your own patterns first. What are we doing to wind up with connections that are dissatisfying? The only behaviors we can change are our own, so that’s the place we must start in finding better partnerships.
We all have bad relationship habits.
Relationship habits are the systems of behaviors and beliefs that dictate how we show up as intimate partners. There are good habits and bad habits. Most of us have learned, somewhere along the way, a certain level of each. We have good habits that bring us closer to our partners, and we have bad ones that push them away.
There’s no one-size-fits-all pattern to our bad relationship habits. Some are overt controllers. Others are subtle manipulators or poor communicators. There are a million ways to get things wrong in our social links to others. The damage they inflict is no different. It’s hard to find the balance when you’re getting in your own way.
Our bad relationship habits come from different places. For most, they are linked to a series of warped beliefs that are rooted in previous experiences. We grow up surrounded by terrible relationships; we become adults and put ourselves in toxic and dysfunctional connections of our own.
Other people aren’t the only problem. We all have our own hangups in communicating, trusting, and letting other people into our lives. Admitting that is a brave first step, and an opportunity to create the intimate connections we crave on a fundamental level.
What are your bad relationship habits? What are the hangups and shortcomings that keep you from being the whole, present partner you want and need to be? Look in the mirror to put yourself on a path to deeper and more meaningful love.
The worst relationship habits you need to drop.
Unless you want your marriage or partnership to be overrun with resentment, you’ve got to be honest about your bad relationship habits. Are you a big avoider? Do you struggle to listen? To be present? To hold space for your partner? Admitting your weaknesses is the first step to building new strengths.
Work becomes a convenient excuse when you’re looking to avoid something tough in your relationship. That’s a dangerous habit to avoid, however. You can become addicted to using your work as an excuse. It will get you out of almost anything and become a major obstacle between you, your partner, and the accountability you need to embrace.
Do you really listen when your partner is talking? Do you absorb what they say? Are you interested in what they say? Your spouse can tell the difference. They know when you’re engaged in what they’re telling you and when you aren’t. If you don’t listen to your loved one, you’re going to hurt their feelings and teach them not to trust you. They won’t open up to you because they know you don’t take them seriously.
Affection is important in a relationship. It fosters trust and a feeling of comfort and love. That’s why we often crave it most when we’re feeling upset or insecure. It can be reassuring. That’s not the case when affection becomes weaponized. Withdrawing affection as a means of punishment is a bad habit to adopt. It teaches your partner not to trust you emotionally.
Setting impossible heights
All relationships have standards. All partners have standards. To make a connection that lasts, those standards have to be both strong and realistic. Where are the standards you hold your partner to? Are they realistic? Or are they impossibly high? If you don’t find the balance, you will set up pedestals your partner can’t reach. You will resent them for it and they will learn to resent you in return.
How much gratitude do you show your partner? Do they know how much you appreciate them and everything that they do for you? Relationships that lack in gratitude are higher in resentment. We want to know that we’re wanted, and we want to feel like we’re doing well. If you’re not showing that gratitude to your partner, you’re going to struggle to connect on deeper levels.
Creating a dumping ground
Our partners exist in our lives as a source of support — both emotional and material. It’s nice having someone in your corner who sees the world like you do. Many take advantage of that support, though, by turning their partners into dumping grounds. They come home at the end of a long day and vomit all their negativity into their loved one’s lap (with no thought of return). Your partner isn’t a dumping ground. Look for the balance.
Prepping the canvas
How do you feel about your partner? Do you love them unconditionally? Or are you waiting on specific changes before you reach that height? Some people get into partnerships not with the person they love, but with the person they hope to love. They turn their spouses into projects, and that’s a bad way to go. Trying to change your partner always leads to disappointment and resentment.
Laying out comparisons
Making comparisons is a sketchy way to go in any partnership. When you compare yourself, your partner, and your connection to others, it can get messy. Every relationship is unique and has different needs. Those who make a habit of focusing on the comparisons can feel like they always need to chase the next best thing.
Nuking the middle ground
It’s easy to get set in your ways. You figure out what you want and how you want it, and it becomes difficult to connect in any other way. Building a relationship requires compromise, though. You must be able to let your partner take up as much space as you. Are you someone who insists on their own way? Who always nukes the middle ground? You could push your partner away.
How to build better habits in love…
You don’t have to settle for any of the above behaviors. The beauty in admitting to your bad habits is that they are completely within your control. It’s not like seeing problems in others. Once you see your pitfalls, you can take action to improve them.
If you want to stop repeating the patterns, then you have to get serious about:
- Relearning your love skills
- Realigning relationship spaces
- Reacting with awareness
Learn what it really means to build a healthy relationship. Stop assuming you know everything and reach out for help in learning new interpersonal relationship skills. With new knowledge, you can take a step back and reconfigure the space you take up in a partnership.
You don’t have to call all the shots, or rely on partners you have to “fix”. Release yourself from that pressure. Seek whole partners who can meet you where you’re at on this road. Lean into a heightened awareness and do your best to move always from a place of integrity and compassion in your relationship.
What are you willing to do to rescue your relationship? What are you willing to concede? What are you willing to hold on to? There is beauty in compromise, in making room for another person to build a skyline in our lives. If you crave a love worth holding on to, then get out of your own way. Discover a better way to love and be loved for a future you value in passion.