Nobody’s perfect. And so, relationships can’t be perfect, right? People mess up all the damn time. Sometimes, they keep making the same relationship mistakes again and again. Just like every other movie on time travel, you have to live the same day on repeat, until you get it right. But how do you get it right? Is there a guidebook to refer to when one gets into a relationship? Yes, there is. And here it goes…Learn from these commonly made relationship mistakes so that you can try your best to save yourself from heartbreak!
Since the subject of unhealthy relationships is complex and the solutions are challenging, we decode them with the help of psychotherapist Dr. Aman Bhonsle (Ph.D., PGDTA), who specializes in relationship counseling and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. He shares insightful, witty observations from his practice as a relationship therapist to help you understand how you can avoid some of the most common relationship mistakes.
The 11 Most Common Relationship Mistakes You Can Actually AVOID
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Maybe you are taking your partner for granted. Or being passive-aggressive with them. Maybe you are not able to set healthy boundaries. Or you question your relationship way too much. Maybe you are not even aware of all these challenges. If you find ways to be honest with yourself, it will help you understand your relationship better.
So, instead of finding faults in the world, let’s ask ourselves, what can we do right? How can we improve for our partners? What relationship mistakes must we avoid? Here are the answers to such questions. Given below are the 11 most common relationship mistakes you can actually AVOID:
1. Trying to change your partner
Dr. Bhonsle puts it best when he says, “A bully is the most toxic person to be around. They never let you be your own person, and walk all over your authenticity.” As he puts it, not letting your partner be their own person is equivalent to bullying them.
So, one of the first relationship mistakes that can easily turn into a pattern – seeing your partner as *someone who needs fixing*. We are not talking about their habit of not putting the toilet seat back down. But, we are more concerned here about you trying to transform the person fundamentally and expecting to mold them as per your notions of what an ideal partner should be.
If something about him/her bothers you, you can obviously express your opinions but trying to impose your morality on them is unfair. For example, if you detest that they smoke, smoke up, or drink, you can let them know. But then, the decision to quit or not is theirs to make, not yours.
2. One of the more common relationship mistakes – Projecting your past onto them
There is a beautiful saying: “If you never heal from what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.” It is not easy to get over an intense relationship with an ex. In fact, a survey (taken by 1,000 people) indicated that married folks are ex-obsessed as well. Almost two-thirds of participants agreed that their ex was on their mind too often, and 36% said their attachment to their ex interfered with their marriage.
One of the infamous mistakes in love relationships is carrying the baggage of your past and dumping it on your current partner. You have to remind yourself that every person is different and you have to stop constantly expecting your partner to match up to someone else. This will leave them feeling frustrated and full of self-doubt. So, as Oprah Winfrey puts it, “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”
3. Rushing it
Research has shown that taking things slow leads to deeper emotional intimacy in a relationship. The study points out that rushing into a sexual relationship can hamper it instead of leading to positive outcomes. Taking it slow is actually beneficial (I know it requires a lot of self-control, but it will be worth it).
Pulling the fifth gear at the initial stages is one of the classic first relationship mistakes. Hey, take it slow. Don’t get way too serious, way too soon. Let it organically evolve into something beautiful and long-lasting. Don’t put your partner in a spot by bringing up the future, again and again, before they’re ready to take things to the next level. Instead, find ways to deal with relationship anxiety.
You have to live in the moment and enjoy the present. You won’t get it again! If your overthinking brain leads to asking hypothetical questions like “What if we don’t end up in the same city in five years ?” or “What if our families don’t feel compatible with each other, eight years from now?”, please STOP! Take a deep breath.
Related Reading: 10 Ways Overthinking Ruins Relationships
You know what generally happens. Life doesn’t always go according to plan. You might prepare yourself for some hypothetical problems only to find yourself grappling with a different set of problems altogether – the ones you didn’t even see coming! For example, you keep worrying that your parents won’t approve of your partner’s religion years from now. And how does the relationship end? Your partner ends up cheating on you. Didn’t see it coming, did you? So stop with all the planning.
4. Getting addicted to fighting
Fights are all about hot and cold behavior. Dr. Bhonsle says, “Life is not a Katy Perry song”, and I couldn’t agree more. Consistency in behavior is an indicator of healthy relationships. Toxic relationships fluctuate between being affectionate and then pulling away.
Yes, it’s an addiction! Once you start arguing about every little thing, there is no going back. I made a mistake in my relationship and lost my love. I got addicted to the God-damned DRAMA. I used to love being angry with him. And I used to love it when he would try to make it up to me. Who doesn’t love the rough make-up sex? I started falling in love with toxicity, without even realizing it.
Trust me, don’t fall into this trap. This is one of the relationship mistakes to avoid at all costs. It will not just kill the love but will also leave you feeling empty and emotionally exhausted in the long run. So, every time you are tempted to say something you won’t be able to take back later, bite your tongue, and resist the urge.
5. Not being able to create a balance
Research points out that a flawed work-life balance spills over into personal relationships. People tend to overwork, get stressed and then take it all out on their partners. So, one of the worst relationship mistakes that one makes is not being able to find the right equilibrium. A relationship gets messed up when there is an imbalance. Work and relationship, family and relationship, friends and relationship, me-time and relationship…the list goes. To find that balance, you have to consciously put effort into a relationship, it doesn’t just happen on its own.
Good relationships suddenly go bad, owing to lack of time management and bad organizational skills. Doing everything in the right amount is the secret to bliss in your romantic paradise. Spending way too much time with your partner as well as burying yourself in work to avoid facing the monotony of your relationship are both examples of common relationship mistakes. You need to avoid them by toeing the line of moderation.
6. Relationship mistakes to avoid – Expecting too much
Actor Jeff Bridges once said, “In life and in movies, it’s a similar challenge, where you have expectations, and you end up in situations that are not meeting your expectations.” So, if you expect your partner to be your lover, your mother, your best friend, your mentor, all at the same time, you’re committing one of the most common relationship mistakes.
Not setting expectations realistically is one of the relationship challenges almost everyone has to face. Every once in a while, remind yourself that your partner is just another human being and not some divine entity who can’t make errors. One of the relationship mistakes to avoid is being unforgiving of your partner’s mistakes.
How to fix past mistakes in a relationship? Go easy on your partner and be patient with them. it will lead to better relationship satisfaction. And research has pointed out that better relationship satisfaction is associated with better mental health. So do it for yourself if you don’t feel like doing it for them. It’s a win-win situation, right?
Related Reading: 6 Mistakes Women Make In Relationships And Then Cry Their Heart Out
7. Not listening enough
Art Rios in his book, Let’s Talk: …About Making Your Life Exciting, Easier, And Exceptional, rightly points out, “When I consider the people I admire, a quality most of them share is that they’re very good listeners. You can literally see them listening. You notice that they’re thinking too, and only after they think, do they give a reply to the person they’re talking to. Listening is an incredibly important skill, and good listening is an art. One that requires immense discipline.”
He goes on to say, “For many of us, we always want to get in edgewise, what we feel is more important to say. Yet, if we would learn to listen more than we speak, we could have better conversations and forge deeper connections. Plus, there would be less misunderstandings in the world.”
Art Rios makes total sense. Lack of effective communication is one of the worst relationship mistakes. Just listen keenly to what your partner is saying. And express yourself clearly. One of the early relationship mistakes is expecting them to magically read your mind. If you want them to understand your needs, desires and wants, you have to say them out loud. Or else, you will develop serious communication issues in your relationship.
Do you think they are emotionally unavailable? Let them know. Do you think you need more space? Express it. Conversations over the round table have saved the world from so many wars and nuclear attacks. If the world can be saved, your relationship can be rescued too. So, there you go…talk, talk, and talk some more, so you can save your relationship from its doom. You can even fix past mistakes in a relationship by talking about them.
8. Extreme insecurity, jealousy, and possessiveness
This is one of the classic relationship mistakes guys make and girls are equally prone to. It’s a Catch-22 situation. The more you cling, the farther your partner moves away. And, the farther they move away, the more you cling to your partner. A study conducted on college students in premarital relationships to establish links between jealousy and relationship closeness defined the positive and negative attributes of romantic jealousy, clearly distinguishing emotional/reactive jealousy as mostly “good” and cognitive/suspicious jealousy as “bad”.
How to deal with this early relationship mistake? Getting right to the point, Dr. Bhonsle says that the first step is always introspection. “You need to question your own standards (or their non-existence) when you find yourself in a toxic relationship. Are you usually attracted to these kinds of people? Is there repetition here?” So, if you always end up dating people who are emotionally unavailable or have a habit of playfully flirting around, there are deeper patterns at work.
Elaborating on the behavior patterns we all fall back into, he talks about recurring ‘themes’ in our lives. “Are certain themes repeating themselves – emotional themes, relationship themes, career-related themes? Can you spot them? And if you can, why don’t you ask yourself the reason behind them? WHY am I prone to these themes? WHY do I attract (and am attracted to) a certain type?”
How to get yourself out of this vicious cycle? Good relationships suddenly go bad when your life starts revolving around your partner. So, don’t depend on your partner for ALL your happiness. Have other sources to derive your happiness from. What is it that made you happy as a child? Writing? Singing? Dancing? Playing sports? Spending time with friends? Listening to music? Watching movies? Doing such activities will prevent you from obsessing over your partner.
Whatever it is, keep doing it, irrespective of your relationship status. This will make you a happier version of yourself. And nobody wants to give up on a person who’s happy and full of self-love. Learning how to love yourself can solve so many problems in your relationship.
9. Taking relationship advice from too many people
The harsh truth is that only a handful of people are genuinely invested in your happiness. The key is knowing who those core people are. And once you know, remember to share your private life only with them.
Oversharing with too many people about your personal life is one of the relationship mistakes that seem harmless but are actually harmful because too many opinions will confuse you. Some will say you deserve better. Some will tell you something else. You won’t know what to do and your personal life will become a public affair. This will annoy your partner.
Yes, having a support group that gives you relationship advice is a great idea. But remember to keep your inner circle small. By all means, go vent in front of five of your closest friends but hold yourself back when you’re in a gathering of 30, comprising coworkers, casual acquaintances, or extended family.
10. One of the common mistakes in love relationships – A lack of loyalty
A lack of loyalty is one of the most common issues in relationships today. In fact, statistics indicate that there is at least one incident of infidelity in 40% of unmarried and 25% of married couples in the US. This is also the reason behind up to 40% of total divorces. Flirting around and keeping options open when they’re with someone are among the most common relationship mistakes that guys make. Likewise, girls in committed relationships often love when their DMs get overloaded with attention and validation.
If you know that you want to explore, go out there and explore. Don’t commit. Just be honest about what you want, with yourself and with your partner. Dr. Bhonsle says, “They will keep telling you that it’s all innocent, and they are just “having some fun”. Why do they need to have fun at the expense of your feelings and respect?”
One of the worst relationship mistakes that you can make is cheating on your partner. If you are cheating on them, you’re not just betraying them but also betraying yourself. It will leave you in a mess, you will experience endless shame and guilt after cheating. You won’t be able to trust yourself later and it will hamper your ability to commit again. So, do yourself a favor and tell your partner the truth. Walking away and giving them closure is still far better than betraying them.
Related Reading: 9 Psychological Facts About Cheating – Busting The Myths
11. Relationship mistakes to avoid – Overstaying and not letting go
Kenny Sebastien, a standup comic, rightly said, “The key to a happy marriage is don’t micromanage it.” Let go. Trust your partner, and have faith in them. Don’t be a control freak and try to exercise power over every aspect of your relationship. Let things flow. But don’t forget to evaluate if the relationship is worth your time and efforts.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “We pay for everything with time. It’s the most precious currency in the world. Decide if the relationship, and by extension your partner, deserves this currency of yours.” So, if it’s taking too much of a toll on your mental health and there is little voice in your gut that says you deserve better, it’s one of the signs you need to walk away from a relationship.
Overstaying is one of the iconic relationship mistakes. It’s okay to leave. You won’t marry every person you date. Some relationships come into your life to teach you lessons. And learning from past relationship mistakes will help you evolve in ways, beyond your comprehension.
- Don’t try to change your partner
- Being ex-obsessed is a classic relationship mistake
- Don’t try to rush the relationship
- Find a balance between your work/family/me-time and your relationship
- Make sure you have realistic expectations from your partner
- Be a good listener and keep a check on your jealousy
- When it’s time to let go, don’t overstay
“If you look back only at your mistakes, you’d think you were an idiot. If you look back only at your wiser choices, you’d think you were infallible. But if you look back on everything, you realize you’re a human being who has been through a lot, grown a lot, is always still learning, and improving as time goes by.” — Doe Zantamata
As Doe Zantamata puts it, don’t get identified with your relationship mistakes. You aren’t your mistakes, after all so why be defined by them? What to do when you realize you made relationship mistakes? You apologize. You change. You grow. You become better. That’s the essence of life, isn’t it? Learning from past relationship mistakes.
Depends on how serious that mistake is. If you forgot their anniversary, maybe you could fix that. But if you cheated on them, then this incident would require a different approach altogether. Owning up to your mistakes requires guts and you are a brave person for doing that.
I think so. No one is perfect. Sometimes you might get into loops of self-doubt but when you look around, you notice everyone saying, “I made a mistake in my relationship.” You are not the only one.