Nobody’s the perfect partner all the time, and all relationships go through rocky patches. However, certain mistakes we make can have dire consequences. If you want your long-term relationship to remain happy and fulfilling, avoid these eight common pitfalls.
Not discussing relationship rules
Many couples make a commitment thinking that everything will just work out. But major disagreements or misunderstandings can develop if you don’t agree on certain ‘rules’ from the start. For example, what constitutes ‘cheating’? Is it okay for your partner to have virtual sex in a chat room or with someone’s avatar in an online game? Finances are another area where lack of initial discussion can lead to big arguments. Does your partner need to talk to you first before buying certain things or spending money over a certain amount? If there are behaviors you just won’t tolerate within a relationship, make sure your other-half understands and agrees. On top of that you need to feel open enough to talk about the things you like does your partner have any of these common fetishes? Would you know if they did? These are the sort of things you need to know about the person you love if you expect to have a long and lasting relationship.
Attempting to change your partner
Everyone wants to feel loved and accepted for who they are, not who someone else would like them to be. People also need to feel free to make decisions about their own lives. This is why attempting to change your partner’s opinions, habits or lifestyle will only result in exasperation and resentment. Nagger, badgering or manipulating your partner is unlikely to change them, but it will certainly cause friction within the relationship. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss your concerns with your partner and try to persuade them to change something, just accept that, ultimately, it’s their life and their choice.
Complaining about your partner
If something your partner does is getting on your nerves, you may feel the urge to complain about them to a friend or relative. It’s might seem easier to vent your frustration to a sympathetic ear than to confront your partner about what’s bothering you. This tactic is counterproductive. If you don’t discuss the problem with your other-half, you’re not giving them a chance to resolve it. They might not even be aware of what’s bothering you. Moreover, if your partner hears about the complaint through a third party, they will feel betrayed. Then, when you do discuss the issue, they’ll be more reluctant to see things from your perspective.
Decreasing physical contact
When a couple first falls in love, they usually can’t keep their hands off each other. Once they settle down together, passionate displays of affection tend to become less frequent. However, if you become so physically distant that you only touch your partner during sex, both of you are likely to grow emotionally distant as well. During close physical contact, the pituitary gland releases the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin which plays an important role in human pair-bonding. Oxytocin helps two people establish a sense of intimacy and attachment. Regular cuddles keep couples together.
Breaking your word
Within any relationship, partners need to feel they can count on each other. If your other-half asks you to do something and you agree to do it, it’s essential that you follow through. It could be something trivial like taking out the trash or something important like paying an overdue bill. If you make a habit of disappointing your partner or leaving them to pick up the pieces, the relationship will soon be in jeopardy. If, with the best intentions, you aren’t able to follow through on a promise due to unforeseen circumstances, apologize and explain.
If your partner says or does something that makes you feel angry, insulted or hurt, it’s vital that you deal with the issue and then let it go. Reacting in passive-aggressive ways such as not speaking to your partner or maintaining your distance will not make the situation any better. The longer behavior such as this continues, the more likely you are to drive your partner away. If your other-half forgets your birthday, you may take it as a sign that they don’t care about you. Instead of punishing them by pretending that you don’t care either, let them know how upset you are. Then give them a chance to make it up to you.
Getting stuck in a boring rut
It’s easy for committed couples to slip into a comfortable routine. But if you rarely share new experiences, you or your partner may be tempted to seek stimulation elsewhere. Several studies have shown that couples who do exciting things together feel more satisfaction in their relationship. Doing unfamiliar or challenging activities with your partner will help you to see each other afresh, appreciate each other more and feel like a team. Travel to somewhere off the beaten path, learn ballroom dancing, go abseiling or just try a strange foreign cuisine.
Having unrealistic expectations
If you expect your relationship to be perfect or your partner to be the man or woman of your dreams, you are in for a big disappointment. Don’t expect intense, crazy romantic love to last forever. Over time, it evolves into a calmer sort of intimacy.
Don’t expect your partner to always understand you or be able to see things from your point of view. No two people are exactly alike, and no one can read your mind. Don’t expect your partner to save you from all your personal problems. The best they can do is to offer their support. Finally, don’t assume that a good relationship is one without conflict. It’s how you resolve disputes that matters.