Disclaimer: I am not a relationship expert. I am merely a wired optimist and writer who was a serial dater before becoming the first of my circle to marry. I tend to be that friend giving relationship advice – whether it’s good advice or not is certainly debatable.
Simply put, I love love. It’s fascinating, beautiful and sometimes ugly.
Speaking of the ugly, here are some of the most common pitfalls I see – and that I’ve been guilty of, too – that should just stop, pronto.
- Thinking Silent Treatment Actually Works: This is guaranteed to flop on us. We must talk less to the world about our significant other and go to him/her directly from the get-go. Direct communication should not be regarded negatively as “confrontation.” It is guaranteed to work better than being passive aggressive via the old silent treatment. It may not always be easy to be so honest, but it will ensure you build a strong foundation for the long-term by prioritizing open communication.
- The Guarded Mentality: They have to earn my trust. No, actually they don’t. To fall in love is to be vulnerable, and if you start with walls up then you’re starting half-heartedly. False doubts breed hesitation, and hesitation breeds disconnect. The people who must “earn your trust” are people you hire for work, like babysitters, lawyers and car dealers. Don’t put your partner in this same circle. And, no, it doesn’t matter if you’ve had the worst heartbreaks ever. We must have faith that the sorrows of what doesn’t work will be worth the immeasurable joy of the one that does.
- The butterflies are gone, we must be doomed: Actually, congratulations are in order. Your relationship has developed into a long-term one not solely based on lust. While everyone enjoys the effortless excitement of a new flame, it takes two to keep such passion instilled – and no, the solution is not to find ways to make your loved one jealous. This chapter, if anything, calls for more attention and creativity than before. Too many people view this as a bad thing, taking it as a sign that chemistry has faded. If you’re pursuing a relationship that only thrives on chemistry, then you’re not truly ready to be in one. All relationships take work, but the more you invest and conquer, the deeper you will connect.
- Keeping tabs like it’s a game: Some of us overanalyze our relationships with an orderly fashion of who does what and when. We’re often caught saying, “well, I did this, so the ball is in his/her court.” Relationships should never be about keeping score. Sometimes, you may have to be the one to initiate or give 110% without expecting a lot in return for a while. When your relationship takes a dive, reach for it rather than waste time pointing fingers. Don’t operate with a scoreboard that pits your partner on an opposing team; operate on the same team.
- Acknowledging the importance of compromise, but not actually doing it. We all want control of our finances and other decisions, but compromise forces us to surrender a little bit of this. Get used to the fact that this will be a recurring challenge. If you’re coming to the table to re-state your viewpoint every time, then you’re not coming to the table at all. You’ll know you’re ready to honestly discuss challenges when you no longer want to change your partner’s viewpoint but are willing to come up with a new one. Searching for common ground only happens when two people put down their weapons. So, stop approaching sides as “right” or “wrong” and instead as “different.” This will train you to be open-minded, making the idea of compromise easier.
- Knowing when it’s toxic, but letting it linger anyway: Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be, and the gift of time often presents this needed realization. Yet we are creatures of routine, and too often, we will let a toxic relationship continue because the idea of ending it inconveniences our lives – or so we think. Such excuses keep us in a slump. When we choose to stay with someone who does not make us happy, they will continue to take from us – they take our energy, our time, our money. It is impossible, therefore, to output the right energy needed to attract new love and opportunities. The immediate horror of a break up is not as damaging as wasting time. Invest your love in people who energize you, not drain you. You will know when you’ve found this, because even at the worst of times, you will still want to be by their side not by convenience or routine, but by heartfelt desire.
What would you add?