There’s no doubt about it. They’re uncomfortable, sad, and unless you’re leaving a toxic relationship, you almost always have that pit in your stomach.
The one that reminds you that you have to start all over again.
The idea of starting over again can be a good thing; it means you’ve identified what isn’t working for you.
However, if you feel like you’ve been starting over quite a bit lately, and you’re frustrated because you can’t figure out why every “good” relationship in your life ends up ending, then it’s time to dig a little bit deeper.
Here are 3 potential reasons why your relationships keep failing and what you can do about it.
You’re seeking comfort.
A lot of people look for comfort within a relationship. Familiarity. Simplicity.
While there’s nothing wrong with keeping things comfortable and simple, staying within your comfort zone, especially when it comes to relationships, can prevent you from being challenged and truly finding that perfect fit.
When I first started dating, I looked for someone who most resembled me and my personality. I thought that being with a guy who had the opposite personality would hinder our relationship’s success.
I wanted my guy to be well-read, someone who was quiet and soft-spoken. Someone who was an introvert, so we could be homebodies together.
Someone who would watch house-hunters with me every weekend and judge everyone on the show. Someone who had the same taste as me because there’s nothing worst than being forced to try something new and then ending up hating it.
Every relationship I had before my current partner failed miserably because I sought comfort and familiarity rather than a challenge and differences.
A partner who challenges you will open your eyes to new things and experiences. A partner who is the complete opposite of you can teach you things you’ve never even considered learning before.
Not only with this allow tremendous growth in your relationship, but it’ll help you grow individually.
I’m not saying go out of your way and look for a person who is the complete opposite of you in every aspect of life. I’m saying, be open to differences. It’s okay to have different views, opinions, ideas, and thought processes.
My partner is the opposite of me in every way other than sharing the same morals and values. He thinks differently and speaks differently. He’s an extrovert, and I can’t be bothered to leave the house. That’s what keeps things exciting. It’s what rekindles the fire when it starts to dim. Differences.
Be open-minded. Allow life to give you the person it wants you to be with, not the person you think you should be with.
“Criticism is one of the greatest predictors of divorce,” says researcher and relationship coach John Gottman.
You might be critical of your partner without even realizing it. For example, I used to criticize my partner all the time about his lack of organizational skills.
Every night, his clothes would “somehow” wind up in a pile next to the bed.
“Why can’t you just clean things up? Why are you always so disorganized and messy?” I’d ask, feeling flustered.
Psychologist Kurt Smith says,
“Healthy feedback is about the behavior and not the person. We can tell our partner what we think or how we feel without criticizing them as an individual. When our comments include cursing or demeaning labels, it kills any value our message has and makes the feedback pointless. Essentially, criticism is often ignored because of the manner in which the message is delivered.”
If you’re constantly attacking your partner’s character, using harsh words or absolutes like “always,” or “never,” then you’re criticizing.
Criticism eats away at your partner’s self-esteem, leaving them feeling negative and doubtful in their abilities.
Consider how you would feel if you were on the receiving end. The one person who is supposed to love you no matter what, constantly poking at every shortcoming you have. I’ve been on the receiving end before, and it’s not fun. It makes you feel helpless and unworthy.
Helping your partner better themselves is one thing, but there are more effective ways to do so. Criticizing and belittling them will never help you achieve the results you’re looking for, and it’ll only harm your relationship in the end.
Instead, change your approach. Rather than being accusatory, be communicative. Sometimes people need things to be broken down for them; not everyone can take on criticism.
Psychologist Steven Stosny says,
“Think of how you would make a behavior request to someone you admire and respect. That’s how you should make behavior requests of your partner.”
Be strategic. Be respectful; if it’s something you absolutely can’t tolerate, then have a conversation, don’t just assume that a person will change their ways because you don’t like it.
Even if it is for the best, they have been doing things a certain way for their entire life, and if you want to help change that, learn to do it respectfully and effectively.
You lack the ability to compromise
When you enter a partnership, it’s no longer about what you and what you want.
It’s about what the both of you want and meeting in the middle. Some people fail to understand that, which is why a lot of relationships fail.
When I was 18, I dated a guy who didn’t understand the concept of compromise. We never saw my friends, only his. We never went to the restaurants I enjoyed, only the ones he did. Nothing was ever according to our time clock, only his.
It was always the promises of, “next time we’ll do what you’d like to do,” that made me believe things would be different, but it only made me resent him in the end.
Compromise is crucial to any relationship. Psychologist Catherine E. Aponte says,
“Each of you wants to be able to express what you want to happen. Each of you is willing to explain why what you want to do is important to you. Each should give the other the opportunity to express his or her preference, without interruption.”
Entering a relationship should not hinder your or your partner’s needs and desires. If you’re both willing to compromise, then you’ll both still get what you want at the end of the day.
Sometimes relationships fail because they’ve run their course. People will come and go in your life, and some of those individuals are only meant to stay for a short period of time.
Maybe you’ll gain a lesson from them or an experience that will stay with you forever. But if you’re going through relationships like M&M’s and you can’t identify the culprit, assess these three things,
- Are you seeking comfort? Are you settling for what’s familiar only because you’re scared of what else is out there?
- Are you overly critical of the people you’re with? Alternatively, are they being overly-critical of you? Causing you to doubt yourself or feel less than?
- Do you lack the ability to compromise? Or do they lack that ability? Could this be resolved? Or are they too fixed in their own ways to address the issue?
Breakups are rough. Starting over could be tiring. But, the right person for you is out there, and once you start identifying the culprits in your failed relationships, meeting the one will become that much easier.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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