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Relationship Mistakes
and How to Avoid Them

See also: Managing Conflict in Relationships

What is a relationship? For some, it is the meaning of life or a hobby, but in reality it’s a full-time job. However, you will not make employee of the month unless you learn the key mistakes and how to avoid them.

Building a Relationship: Key Mistakes to Learn and Avoid

A healthy relationship is what we strive for. Since our first days, we’re surrounded by patterns of behavior, patterns of actions leading to one goal – to meet that someone special and create a lasting, harmonious union of hearts.

Unfortunately, even the perfect model may fail, personal constructs may collapse, and the future once envisioned may turn out to be not as bright as one hoped. Maybe it’s because we do something wrong and personally ruin what should have been strengthened and developed? Is it possible to build a solid relationship and maintain personality at the same time?

Learning the Hard Way

Romantic interest often develops the same way: the partners share views, their sensations and impressions are aggravated, and every hour spent apart seems like a week. But those feelings fade away pretty quickly, and this is neither bad nor good – it’s a normal progression.

You and your partner aren’t raw copies of each other; sooner or later one of you will want to change some aspects of the relationship, not because you no longer appreciate what you have but because you want to grow as a couple. And that’s where mistakes kick in.

1. “There’s only ‘us’ now.”

If you keep repeating this phrase like a mantra then, at some point, at least one of you will lose the ability to think differently. In any relationship (both romantic and friendly), it’s crucial to realize that each party is an individual with their own baggage of life experience and patterns of behavior. The differences between the partners begin to appear gradually. But the deep conviction that you’ll be understood without words remains and causes problems over time.

2. “Like it or not, I’ll change you.”

On the one hand, adult life calls for adult rules, and some of these rules dictate strict intolerance of the mistakes of others. For instance, in a working relationship, no one will waste time rehabilitating a slacker – it’s faster to replace them with a responsible worker. But when it comes to our loved ones, we often have double standards. Some of the partner’s traits may be annoying or even intolerable, and yet we hope to fix them. Typically, such attempts backfire. In romantic relationships, there’s a principle of an adequate response. If you actively protest against your partner’s habits or traits, they’ll most likely return the favor by criticizing you. Remember that you’re a companion, not a parent, and the right to teach and change must be earned.

3. Control freak.

The craving for total control serves no benefit and points at flaws in a person’s emotional background. Controlling people are prone to blackmail and manipulation. It’s a tricky game where one partner tries to “reshape” the other without changing their own habits and beliefs. In a controlling relationship, it’s common when one partner is criticized for texting a co-worker, while the other sees nothing wrong with hopping from one dating site to another. In some cases, the desire for control is a way to fill the inner void.

4. I’m a victim.

You’ve been looking for love for so long, you value this relationship more than anything and you’re terribly afraid to lose it. The reason for that may be a stressful experience or negative childhood experience. The problem is that you hide your needs and aspirations deep inside, essentially devaluing yourself. Over time, everything you used to keep so carefully hidden bursts out, bringing a sense of guilt. When there’s some form of abuse in a relationship, the partner will successfully manipulate you, pursuing personal interests. It won’t take long until you demand payback for all your sacrifices. And when that moment comes, you’ll both have no idea of what’s happening: you won’t be able to convey your needs correctly, and your partner will struggle to understand what you want from them. When this problem appears in a relationship, tension and irritation build up, resulting in alienation.

5. The fight for power.

Relationship development and changes for the better are impossible without compromise. A compromise isn’t about the fact that one of you gives up, secretly considering your point of view the right one. A compromise is a worthy and equal dialogue, honest interaction, and a joint search for mutually beneficial options.

Your fight for dominance may stem from your past relationships. You’re trying to take what you haven’t received from an ex-partner, and this is borderline selfish.

6. Too much to handle.

In addition to our personal life, we have to deal with various other cares and interactions: relationships with friends and loved ones, work, and so on. All these connections are essentially no less important and occupy a huge place in our lives. You can’t cast them aside when embarking on a romantic journey. It takes a lot of moral strength and time to maintain and develop multiple relationships. At some point, you may grow tired of this hard work, and, instead of love and joy, you begin sharing stress with your partner. Unfortunately, this creates fertile soil for conflict.



Guide to Personal and Romantic Relationships

Further Reading from Skills You Need


The Skills You Need Guide Personal and Romantic Relationships

Personal and romantic relationships can be difficult to navigate.

Even those who are highly skilled at personal interactions at work can struggle to translate these skills to their home environment. This book is designed to help you do just that: to take your existing interpersonal skills, understand them better, and use them effectively in your personal relationships.


Learn and Accept

Any relationship must develop, and therefore, you should accept changes positively and draw experience from them.

Attention to each other, mutual respect, adequate reaction to crises, and the ability to maintain dialogue will become your main allies. Just make sure you are both interested in keeping the relationship going.

You need to realize that:

  • The relationship isn’t the end goal. If it is, there’s a risk of turning it into formality, simple coexistence full of mutual reproaches. The goal is what you come up with in a relationship. It should bring satisfaction, not deny self-development, and be mutual. The level of your happiness doesn’t depend on the significance of your goal. Whether you dream of a new car or conquering Everest, the main thing is that you both want this.

  • You’ll have to learn to voice problems, even if you’re used to believing it’s better to keep them to yourself. It’s simple: you need to learn to discuss your desires and needs once they occur; don’t wait until your partner develops telepathic abilities. You must learn to find solutions that will work for both of you. It’s always better to repeat what you said if you’re not sure you were understood correctly. Please, talk to each other!

  • Trust is essential. Yes, living with an open heart is great courage and a great gift. Many hearts close down after several betrayals and disappointments. However, building a relationship without trust is like sitting on a chair with three legs: you can maintain balance for some time, but you’ll eventually fall down.

  • You’ll need to be grateful. The closest people are usually the ones we forget to thank. We take everything they do for granted and always forget that a magical “thank you” can work miracles.

Naturally, real worries and challenges that we encounter every day are much more complicated than a few article paragraphs, but they are all part of a huge puzzle called life. And there’s no place for haste or rushed decisions when solving this puzzle.


About the Author


Ethan Mackie is a freelance writer and relationship adviser, mainly interested in the psychology of relationships, staff motivation, charisma and its impact on other people, leadership, as well as other related fields.

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