‘He changed my life’, ‘I can’t breathe without my partner’, ‘I’d give up anything for love’. Surely you’ve heard these phrases before or even said that yourself. Are they really healthy to be told or believed in?
I want to talk to you about things that get in the way of having a healthy relationship. You might have been there without realising it, or you simply know but you are stuck in this mud. No worries, there is always a wake up call. Let’s start by pointing out some of the most common relationship pitfalls.
1. Defining your status
‘I’ll be happy when I am in a relationship’ or ‘I was raised up with the belief that you must be in a relationship in order to fulfil your life’. Many people that I’ve talked with subconsciously desire a relationship because of their family or friends’ pressure: ‘They keep asking me when I will find a partner or why I am alone’. To clear that out, remember that you mustn’t let others define your life. Also the fact that you are a loner does not mean you are alone, you simply don’t want to say yes to the first potential partner that shows up.
2. Seeking validation
‘I don’t feel beautiful if he does not tell me so’. ‘I think he does not love me any more, he didn’t tell that to me today’. ‘Does he even want me?’ The answer is simple. For men things are black and white. No extra colour, just simple maths. If a man is with you, it’s because he wants that, he has already seen just enough to desire spending time and sharing moments with you. So instead of questioning his feelings simply try to enjoy the moment. No matter how often he tells you the words that you want to hear, if you are not relaxed, absence takes place. The most important thing is that your partner wants confidence from you. While it’s nice to hear and know how to receive compliments, you need to give compliments yourself too.
3. Measuring against past relationships
Telling your partner about your ex can be very tricky. There is no need to discuss past when you live in the present, only if you are forced by an outer situation, then clearing things out is one thing you can do. Mentioning what your ex did or how he was will only make your partner think about being compared with others or that you might be confused on what you want from them.
4. Diving into it from day one
You start as individuals and continue as such while keeping your unique personality. You share your road with your partner and build your relationship day by day. Don’t expect holding hands, receiving flowers and having your partner there just to fill your selfish needs or be a replacement for somebody. Don’t also expect them to guess who you are and what you want. Don’t demand anything just because you assume you know who they are and what they want. Instead you can take things slowly and see where it goes. You never know what could bring you two together. Some people have an image of their future partner and there is nothing bad about it as long as it’s just a sketch that can be coloured later on.
5. Trying to change them
Possession starts slowly with ‘More of us, less of me or you’ and then turns into ‘Only us and no more me nor you’. ‘If you love me, quit your hobby.’ ‘I must know where you are and when you are coming back home.’ ‘I know better than you, you must do as I say.’ When you become possessive and try to change your partner things can get out of control real quick. In order to avoid this you should ask yourself at the very beginning if you can accept the person as they are. Trying to convince yourself that you can turn a blind eye on the things you don’t like about your potential partner or hoping that you can change them later will backfire on you eventually. Have in mind that it’s a matter of acceptance. You don’t love them for who they might become but for who they are.
6. Demanding for perfection
‘If I were you…’, ‘How could you?’, ‘I am so disappointed with you’. You can’t say you love your partner and when they do not meet your expectations or when you discover their weaknesses, get upset, turn away and bury your feelings. That will give birth either to silence and distance or will make a crack in your relationship. A crack happens either in silence and looks like a sudden appearance when in fact it’s been there for a while or it comes with a sound, a scream, a cry out. It is a clear sign you both have a lack of listening and talking to each other as you once did.
7. Wanting them all to yourself
I’ve asked some people to define jealousy. Most of them said it is a feeling that creeps in when trust is unbalanced by some behaviour of their partner. What people don’t notice is that regardless of their partners’ actions it is their personal reaction that matters the most. It may look like your partner is the one to blame when actually they have little to do with this. But yes, they have their part, the part where they can listen and talk with you about your feelings.
Jealousy involves low self-esteem more than anything else. Don’t confuse the lack of affection with jealousy but also don’t overreact or suppress your emotions. Take time to understand what you’re feeling and get clear with that first before approaching your partner. The better you can identify your feelings, the clearer the conversation will be. I do feel like mentioning that I am not referring here to people with double life who are actually cheating. It will be a separate topic to discuss in the future.
8. Clinging to your partner
The idea of needing someone is relative. You need them to support you but you don’t want to be clingy. Love at any cost can result in severe dependence as the line between need and dependence is quite fine. Next thing you hear yourself saying: ‘My partner fulfils all my emotional and physical needs; without him I have nothing, I am nothing’.
Your partner is not somebody you can take for granted and pass your responsibilities to. Don’t loose your personality, remember that you are an autonomous human being capable of surviving and focus on what you can give to your relationship.
9. Conditional love
‘I love them, but…’ It is a bit harsh to limit the love you give. It sounds like a business contract, where the needs of both parties are outlined in writing from the very first day. But what do you do when new needs emerge? Change contract? Pera Novacovici, psychologist, coach and a founder of the community Alpha Personality suggests: ‘If you see your relationship as a contract, it will work as long as the needs stay just the same. But the needs change in time; therefore the contract needs a change as well.’ Are you sure you want to invest your time and energy in this selfishness?
10. Comparing to other couples
‘I wish I had a relationship like my friends have, they look so happy’. Truth being told, scrutinising relationship of other people will block you from seeing things as they are or how you want them in your own life. You will only get distracted from following your own beliefs and values if you keep on peeking into your neighbours’ backyard. Focus on improving your own life and avoiding relationship pitfalls rather than on comparing it so somebody else’s. All in all, you should not do anything apart from what you like and feel.