Relationships can be fragile things – especially in the beginning.
When they end, it can leave a lot of unanswered questions.
Why did this happen?
What did I do wrong?
Why do I keep attracting jerks?
Sometimes we can’t put a finger on the answers, so we just use vague statements like “we just grew apart.”
But in order to learn from our mistakes, we first have to identify them.
Below is a countdown of 5 mistakes that may help to answer those questions and how to avoid them in your next relationship (or how to save the one you are currently in).
Perfection is a myth.
You cannot have a perfect relationship. You cannot be a perfect girlfriend. You cannot expect a perfect husband.
We have been sold the idea that if we find our true soul mate, everything will be perfect. So what happens? When we realize that our partner or our relationship has flaws, we run for the hills because we believe that means the they were not “the one.”
Or we may let other’s opinions of what a “perfect relationship” should look like influence how we view our relationship and when we don’t measure up, we decide something must be wrong. Your relationship may be very different than the fairy tale.You may decide that sleeping in separate beds works the best for both of you, because you sleep better – that doesn’t mean that your relationship is any less “perfect” than anyone else’s.
Nobody and no relationship is perfect and we can’t hold ourselves, our partner, or a relationship to those fairy tale standards.
Isn’t compromise the cornerstone of a good relationship?
I hear successful couples say that all the time – “the secret to our happy marriage is compromise”. I would argue that if they are truly happy and content then they are probably using the wrong word when they talk about compromising.
Let me explain.
So what is compromising? It means that 2 people have 2 different ideas, wants, needs, etc and that in order to keep the peace they come up with a solution that is somewhere in the middle or one person capitulates. Usually when there is a compromise, one person gets a little bit (or a lot) more of what he wanted than the other – the “winner”.
The “loser” may have agreed to the compromise to end the argument and they are willing to accept the short end of the stick this time because they hold on to the idea that next time there is a compromise, they will be in the “winner” position.
In this way, compromising can be seen as 2 people taking turns at getting what they want. This can lead to resentment, martyrism, and victim role playing because either one person or both do not get what they truly want or one person feels that they are coming out the “loser” more than their fair share in the relationship.
What is the answer then? Collaboration.
To collaborate is to find the win/win answer.
It is to think creatively to come up with a solution that everyone can get behind and support. Where both people feel like they got what they wanted (and maybe even more than they initially hoped for).
It’s not easy and it takes hard work to truly collaborate to come up with these win/win solutions, but it leaves no ill feelings, harbored resentments, or scorecards behind.
#3 Not Taking Time For Yourself
Everybody needs alone time, or at least time away from your significant other. And even if you don’t think that you do, I bet your other half doesn’t feel the same way.
Couples should not be glued at the hip – you need to be your own person and have your own interests.
So if your boyfriend or girlfriend plans a night out with their friends or asks for some alone time, don’t freak out and don’t take it personally. Use that time to your advantage and so something for yourself.
#4 Not THINKing
A lot of times we tend to blurt out things without thinking, especially if we are upset. These things can get us in a lot of trouble. And even if your partner says they forgive you, those words are still out there – hanging in the air forever.
So when you are upset – before you speak, do yourself a favor. Hit pause, take a breath and ask yourself, “Is what I am about to say Thoughtful, Helpful, Intelligent, Necessary, and Kind (THINK)? If not, then keep your mouth shut.
Pay special attention to “necessary” as this one is where we usually trip ourselves up.
#5 Trying to Control or Change Our Loved One
This is a big one.
I know we all “know” we shouldn’t enter a relationship expecting to change anyone, but subconsciously we still try.
The next time you are feeling push back in your relationship – that quite not right feeling – take an honest look at your motives for some of your recent actions. Are you trying to manipulate, change, or control the situation or your partner?
Really think about it. Sometimes on the surface our actions look innocent (especially to ourselves) but if we dig deeper we will be surprised at what we find. Trying to control is just another way of trying to change.
You want everything to be a certain way (your way), including your partner. So by controlling the situation you are trying to mold (or change) everything to your liking. When you try to control or change someone you are sending the message that they are not okay just the way that they are. Is that the message you want to be sending to the person you love?
Believe me, they already know what their faults are – they don’t need you to remind them. So give it up. Let go.
Repeat the Serenity Prayer over and over if you have to. In case you don’t know it – here it is: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
If you recognize any of these mistakes as ones you have made in the past, don’t beat yourself up over it.
The purpose of this article is to help you identify past mistakes so that you may learn from them and have healthier, happier relationships in the future.