We’re only human, but these relationships mistakes are totally avoidable.
Relationships can be our best teachers. They push us; they pull us. They allow you to find out who you are all the emotions under the sun. It’s a blank canvas to do some of your best work and be your best self. It’s also where we find our darker selves, our shameful selves, and our weakest selves. Being in a committed relationship is like raising a puppy. It’s wild and untrained at the beginning, which is often forgiven for its cuteness and puppy dog eyes, but over time, you’ll find that some days are harder than others.
In those hard days, we are only human and make mistakes. Mistakes are forgivable if you can create an environment that harbors forgiveness. Here are seven mistakes we all make in relationships and how you can fix them.
1. Looking Out for Number One
When we’re born, we learn to take first. Take milk, take attention, and take love. And that thirst for thinking and reacting selfishly is not necessarily bad, after all, we’re wired that way. The problem is, when you take a “taking” perspective into an adult relationship, it’s easy for one partner to feel that your love is one sided. When Kevin and I were young, we used to compete. That’s not the best term to describe it, but we certainly were considering each other in our daily decisions and how we communicated with each other. Until we learned how to put each other needs and wants above our own, did we really start to understand the power of our relationship. Loving someone is not always chemical, it’s a hard-earned decision that we make and continue to make even when it’s hard.
Blaming your partner is so common in relationships that it should be highlighted with asterisks next to it. Blame comes from fear. Fear of what? Of shame, or appearing weak. When we blame our partner for something, we take on the position of “I told you so” and “Therefore I’m better than you”.
It’s an addictive position of power that creates distance and dissonance. Looking back now, blaming each other was an easy out, so we didn’t have to include ourselves in the solution when something went wrong. Until we understood that a relationship was a team, and the phrase “when one of us fails, we all fail” is truer. Even though I’d like to believe, we couldn’t rise above old arguments like we do now. When you let go of blame and realize it gets you nowhere, you’ll find much more freedom and safety within your relationship.
Denying you don’t see an issue with your relationship is like putting off your homework until the end of the year. It’s just procrastinating the work you know you need put into your relationship. Why hide from a hard conversation? Because it hurts, and it can be a stressful mess. But like any athlete will tell you, “no pain, no gain.” Relationships are hard work, and love is a decision and a commitment you make not only to your partner, but to yourself. Every day you work out this muscle of love, and when you look back at your results in the coming years, you’ll see a lean body of work.
4. Looking for Answers Anywhere but From Yourself
Going to others for guidance and help is always a good idea. Letting others decide your life for you is a disaster. A big part of relationships is trust, but not being exclusive to each other is not what I’m talking about. Sometimes, you’ll need to make decisions in your life together, but each partner should always try to make those decisions on their merit.
Sure, we can be influenced by our parents, mass media, friends, etc. but partners need to know how to look for the answers to their problems from within. Leaning too heavily on opinions and people will create an unsteadiness and break your foundation. Retaining or building character within your ethics and standards is incredibly powerful in a relationship, and keeps the two of you honest and accountable for the actions you take together.
5. Holding Grudges
Grudges come in many forms. They creep up and sometimes pop out, even when you’re joking. Holding grudges signifies you aren’t willing to move on and enjoy the present state of things. If there hasn’t been progress or proof of a better relationship between partners, a big part of that reason is that one of you is still living in the past.
This is always a bad habit of mine. I’m unabashed to admit to holding grudges because I’m actively working on it. And with all honesty, grudges are vampires sucking any creative juice or viable energy for me. I consciously decided to let “small potatoes” go and move on. Move on.
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