- Gender and Relationships
Why Relationships Fail - Mistakes Men and Women Make On The Road To Happiness. Pt. 3
There are many, many things that can catapult a relationship south. Sometimes you know exactly what went wrong, sometimes it's clear as mud. Here is part 3 of a 3-part hub covering the mistakes that are commonly made by men and women throughout their partnerships that contribute to their re-entry into singledom.
Trying to be a magician
Don't try to ‘ta-daa’ someone into your perfect SO. This is another common mistake that causes relationships to fail. Here’s where you reap the benefits of having been yourselves. If both people fall in love with each other’s true selves, this won’t happen. Unless of course you’ve only fallen in love with most of your SO, and aren't able to accept that he or she has traits that you don’t like. Sometimes a 'must fix' mentality sets in, but nothing is broken! Everyone is different in immeasurable ways – and that’s a good thing. Changing yourself is hard enough to do when you truly want to. Forcing someone else to change is impossible. When you and your SO have differing opinions on something external to your relationship, respect that they have the right to their own opinion. They do not have to conform to yours, and vice-versa. Problems will arise if you are trying to change how they think, or how they feel about information that has been given to them. When someone is presented with information it is up to them whether or not they want to incorporate it into their existing views. Discussions and debating are great; but if you feel yourself getting heated and frustrated, back off and change the subject.
One of the most terrible things you can feel is that your SO doesn’t love you for who you are; feeling like they would love you more if you were like this. Everyone wants to be with someone who loves them unconditionally for who they are.
Alarm bells should be going off if you're actually feeling un-attracted to your SO (not
just a momentary turning off of the hot factor, but an actual complete
lack of attraction); and if you question your compatibility over annoying habits that may only be annoying
to you. Don’t try to change your SO. If you aren't able to accept them for who they are,
accept that they’re not the one for you and continue looking for the one who
is. You don’t want to be 45 years old, married for 20 years and realizing that you
could have been happier for those 20 years - which you can’t get back, if only you had
waited for someone who shared your interests and made you feel happy. You only get one life, folks. No sense in wasting it; or someone else's for that matter. Do what truly makes you happy.
Allowing past experiences to harm your relationship
Comparing your SO to your ex is only going to put strain on your relationship. For goodness sake don’t do it out loud . You should never be saying anything like, ‘you know, Shelia used to do this for me’ or ‘when I was with Robert …’ I'm sure it makes you feel less than good about yourself to feel like you’re not as good as the person your SO broke up with. I would never want to feel like my SO wished they were still with their ex over me.
Along these same lines is punishing your SO for things your ex did in the past. It’s
really, really hard sometimes to
leave the past behind. It's hard when you have given your all to someone and the relationship goes south. If you were the one who was hurt it's only natural for some part of you to be constantly on guard for what hurt you before. No matter the role you played, the past is what made you who you are today.
There is a difference though between incorporating past lessons to help you in
the future, and allowing the past to affect your future in a negative way. It
is unfair to your SO to judge them based on something someone else did. How
insulting and hurtful would it be to have made a life as a good person and be proud of who
you are, only to have the one person you chose to share yourself with treat you as though
you’re not the awesome person you’ve
worked to be; instead treating you as the bad person their ex used to be? As hard as this one can be to over come, remember when you look at your SO: they haven't hurt you. Your ex is gone, and all that remains is the wonderful person waiting to love you.
When you think of the things that have contributed to your guard, think about the fact that your SO has most likely 'had the opportunity'. If they haven’t let you down yet and you feel safe with them, there is no reason to punish them or make them feel bad for talking to a co-worker or friend of your gender just because your ex proved un-trustworthy. If you have the ability to have platonic friends of their gender, try to remember that they have that same ability. It’s insulting, disrespectful, and will only make your SO feel really crushed that they’re with someone who actually believes they are 'that kind of person'. People want to be with someone who appreciates them and thinks they’re great.
For the sake of your relationship, find a way to come to terms with your past. It may be hard, varied and colorful, but no matter how bad it was, you can do it.
Not knowing how to fight
Fights are inevitable, but they don't have to spell disaster for your relationship. You’re two different people, two separate personalities and you’re certainly going to clash from time to time. Arguing is a way of expressing your individuality. Conceivably, sometimes, not the healthiest way; but a way nonetheless.
Try to pay attention to how much you're using your voice. When something is bothering you – more than a dirty plate on the end table – say so. Practice restraint though. It will only cause harm to start going off about every little thing that ruffles your feathers. This is where that quintessential ‘pick your battles’ quote comes in. If you’re constantly picking fights over insignificant things, before too long your SO will think ‘ah yes, they’re angry again. What else is new?’. When that stage is reached you will have way more issues to deal with than a repetitive dirty dish offender.
Whatever you do, don't let your anger smolder inside of you. It grows and grows with more and more little things that tick you off until, one delightful summer day you
explode all over the place with a gazillion things that have been bothering you
for ever. You're liable to find yourself in a 'can't take it anymore' fight, which very well could spell disaster.
Do you fight fair?
So what, exactly, is fighting fair? Here are a few qualities of fair fighting:
- Allow your SO to complete his or her thoughts without talking over them, regardless of how heated it’s making you to hear them.
- Refrain from calling your SO names or otherwise calling them down.
- Don't be obtuse. Stick to the real story and not the angry, inflated, venom-filled version.
- Don’t bring up past arguments that were agreed to be left in the past.
- Listen. Give your SO the same respect that you want, and hear them out on their point of view.
- If you’re in some sort of wrong here, take responsibility for your actions. As much of a blow as it is to the ego, apologize, and maybe even talk about what happened.
- Lastly, if your SO is in the wrong, refrain from boasting, calling them down, or holding it over them.
Keep yourself planted. That is, don’t take off in a fit of anger. Time out’s are fine, and sometimes needed, but time outs are vocalized. The angry exit in the midst of the flames is not going to make things better. If you need to escape from the situation for a minute, just tell them. “I need a time out.” and go somewhere until you both calm down a bit, like another room. If your SO denies this to you and won’t oblige, do it regardless. You’ve told them what you’re doing so it wouldn’t be considered running out on the fight. No one has the right, not you to your SO, not your SO to you, to confine anyone to an argument. Vocalizing a time out is just being respectful, it's not asking for permission.
Step back and take a look at your situation. If you are mad at your SO 90% of the time, it may be time to seriously reconsider your compatibility. You can’t be in 10% of a relationship.
Not sharing responsibilities
Don't expect your SO to do all the work. You might get that for a little while, but sooner or later you’re going to start finding garbage on your pillow and empty Freezie wrappers in your clean-clothes pockets. It is disrespectful and inconsiderate, bordering on controlling, to assume your SO will do the laundry, cook, do the dishes, clean the floors and objects, make the bed, walk the dog, clean the car, mow the lawn, shovel the snow, while you enjoy nice relaxing evenings chatting on the phone or watching tv. This is not the 40s. Unless you have a unique situation and your SO is really into that sort of thing, this is a bad habit to get into. Relationships are two way streets; or 50 - 50...whichever you prefer. It won’t be long before your SO starts to feel really under appreciated, which is a foundation for a mountain of troubles.
Failing to show appreciation
Appreciation is what keeps us feeling great where we lack personal build-up. Your SO may be confident that they rock, but if they’re constantly doing good things that are brushed off and going un-noticed they’re going to start to feel resentment. Soon you’ll be feeling insecure because you don’t understand why your SO is so distant. Good deeds go both ways. Follow the Golden Rule. Treat your SO with the same kind of appreciation that they treat you with, and that you would want to be treated with. Compliment them, build them up, encourage them, support them, ask them if there’s anything you can get them on your way to the kitchen, do something nice that he or she didn’t ask for... Just make sure that your SO knows that you value them as a person, friend and partner.