- Gender and Relationships
Five common relationship mistakes to avoid
Somehow, movies and books have created the illusion that once you find that “perfect person” your life will be complete and you will be happy for the rest of your lives, because you have each other. We know, even as we watch the fictional drama play out that this is not reality, that no relationship is perfect; but even so, the belief that finding the right mate will increase our level of happiness is deeply rooted in our psyche. And some people never feel whole until that happens.
The following are some mistakes that people make regarding relationships, and how to approach things in a healthier way.
Putting life on hold until it happens
“Gosh I’d love to travel, but who wants to travel Europe by themselves?” Well you know what the happily married equivalent to that excuse is? “Gosh I’d love to travel, but we have kids now.” (Or pets, if kids aren’t your thing.) If people spent as much time and effort on doing the things they loved, instead of searching for love, they would attract like-minded people quite easily.
Dropping everything else because you’ve found “the one”
Remember those people you used to call your friends? Maybe you still do, but when was the last time you saw any of them? Oh, you met your girlfriend for drinks on the one night last month that your guy had plans that didn’t involve you? Sorry, that doesn’t count. If you’ve pushed aside all the things you enjoyed doing while you were single now that you are in a relationship, you are setting yourself up for failure. The honeymoon period only lasts so long, and then it’s easy to mistake boredom and routine for discontent. Of COURSE you’re going to get bored if the only person you see outside of work is your significant other. If all of your activities involve each other, you’re going to run out of things to talk about pretty quickly. Which brings me to my next point:
Blaming your unhappiness on the other person
Your own happiness is your own responsibility. While you can enjoy another person’s company, and their presence can improve your personal experience, that does not make them responsible for your entertainment or sense of well-being. If you feel like something is missing from your life experience, ask yourself if that something can be gained from another source. If you need more physical activity, more intellectual stimulation, or a greater feeling of spiritual connection, these are all things you can find on your own, or with people outside of your relationship. Expanding your alone time or your social activities, whichever of these things contribute most to your personal happiness, can and should be explored for the health of your relationship. And your lover should be encouraged to do the same.
Sometimes a person can fear losing their relationship so much that they try to fit the mold of what they perceive their companion wants. There is this fear of not being able to live without the other person; and so they become complaisant, agreeing to things they’d rather not do, and striving to keep everything “just so” because it “makes my baby happy.” Living in fear that making a mistake will cause your special friend to leave you is not healthy. A relationship should not cause you anxiety. If you find that you can only relax when your lover is not around, there is something wrong. For more on this, check out Gabrielle Bernstein’s article on How to Release Romantic Fears.
Resentment toward your lover
Everyone has bad days and it’s easy to take it out on the person you see most often. It’s instinctive to react defensively when someone gets crabby with you, especially when you’ve done nothing wrong; but just remember that their anger is not about you. Snapping back at her can make you seem unapproachable when she needs support, which causes resentment on her side; being silently hurt and keeping it to yourself will cause resentment on your side. Sometimes all it takes in this situation is to acknowledge verbally that you can see the other person is upset, and that you are going to give them some space until they are more like themselves again. Now she knows that her behavior was hurtful, and if you have a solid relationship, this is all it will take to shift her perspective.
The other side of resentment comes from unreasonable expectations. Everyone has an idea in mind of what the perfect lover will be like, and sometimes we get too caught up in that vision. Gandhi reminds us that, “Everyone is human.” A little compassion will get you further than judgement. Is he working a lot of overtime? Under a lot of stress? Not feeling well? Just seeing things from his perspective might encourage you to do more to make his life easier (and you can be sure this will be returned in kind). Oh yeah, and sometimes…impossible standards can be a symptom of commitment phobia.
Life is all about balance, and so are the acts of finding and being in a relationship. It is important to always retain a sense of self outside of your relationship. You should be a whole, stable person on your own; whose quality of life is improved by the company they keep, whether they are friends or lovers. Relying on another person for your happiness or to make you feel whole will likely only cause you to despise your shortcomings and be critical of yourself; when being alone should come with the luxury of a complete absence of judgement.
© 2014 FindWholeness