Infidelity, financial incompatibility, and growing apart are common reasons for why relationships end. But there are a few other behaviors that equally contribute to the deterioration of what could be a solid bond.
Here, in no particular order, are five behaviors you could engage in if you are interested in burying your romantic relationship. I’ve seen friends on the receiving end of a few of these circumstances, and yes, I have been guilty of perpetrating one or two of these. What? I am what you call a work in progress.
Get Chummy with Google
If your relationship is in a rut, do not Google a solution. Any buffoon can post their opinion to the Internet. Your humble correspondent is no exception.
It’s not that you can’t find good, even excellent advice, on the Internet. The problem is that we are heroes of our own stories. When we research relationship issues, we conduct the research with a bias favoring our side of a conflict. We are too likely to listen to guidance that most closely aligns with how we feel. If you truly want to fix the situation, you need to be just as aware of how you are contributing to the problem.
Use the Internet wisely. It makes sense to use the Internet to research gift ideas and romantic spots. It even makes sense to read articles written by people who share their own stories on a particular relationship subject. We can learn a lot from one another, but be careful not to look for your problems in someone else’s circumstances.
Also, be careful not to let statistics influence your actions. My closer friends will roll their eyes that it took me this long to get it. Just because some random study found that 50% of couples who experienced these symptoms ended up breaking up does not mean your relationship is over! I mean, if the Internet says it’s true…
Go to Your Friends When the Going Gets Rough
If you are lucky, you will surround yourself with friends who tell you what you don’t want to hear. However, when push comes to shove, unless you attract toxic people, most friends will rally around you. This is great for your self-esteem but not so great for your relationship.
Instead, consider designating one or two friends whom you can trust to listen to your concerns and give you a balanced perspective. You don’t want someone who will seize the opportunity to slam your partner. You also don’t want someone who will blindly support you making hasty decisions just because they’re too afraid to tell you what they really think.
This bears emphasizing, don’t get angry when your friend is courageous enough to point out legitimate issues. Don’t get weird if they point something out you could be doing better. Don’t get uncharacteristically protective of your partner if your friend points out something you might be too in love to notice. They should be kind about it, but the truth is sometimes hard to swallow no matter who delivers it.
Go to friends with a demonstrated record of leading positive relationships. It’s going to be hard to take the word of someone who moves in and out of relationships while merrily committing some or all of these offenses without an attempt at self-improvement.
Air Dirty Laundry on Social Media
Anyone who freely discusses their relationship troubles on social media should send prospective suiters running for the hills. Validation is fine. Emotional whiny clubs are not. These types of individuals dress up the public discussion of their personal relationship struggles and call it strength and bravery. With few exceptions, I call it bullshit.
Your relationship is between you and your partner. It is not between you, your partner, and the rest of the world. The only thing a public discussion of your relationship issues is going to achieve is mistrust. Who wants to be in a relationship where their shortcomings could later be dissected by a bunch of strangers?
The same warning applies to men or women who love making generalizations of the opposite sex. 10 Reasons Why guys are dogs? Great for the teenie bopper magazines. Horrible for mature partners. Absolutes never got us anywhere constructive, and rest assured that if he or she is complaining about half the population now, it won’t be long until their complaints start featuring you.
Honestly, this is one type of relationship you should probably let die.
Make Your Relationship a Secondary Priority
Now, I want you to walk carefully with me around this one. I fully believe in a certain brand of autonomy. Getting involved in a serious relationship should not spell the end of your friendships, hobbies, education, career, or anything that would be important in your life independent of your romantic partner. Getting involved with someone should not come at the expense of losing yourself, provided you are not spending so much time on these endeavors that you neglect your partner. But, these were predictable factors. Let’s talk about less conventional considerations.
If you are married, your family should not come before your spouse. Your parents should never have a greater influence over your marriage than your partner. Not even your children should take priority over your partner. We’ll tackle that nerve another day. If your husband or wife start to feel as though their position comes second to another relative, you’re going to cultivate a deep resentment.
If you are married, your church should not play a greater role in your marriage than your spouse. Spiritual faith can add a layer of serenity to a harmonious relationship, but if you are at odds in what you believe, the rift could prove insurmountable.
I stipulate “marriage,” because, frankly, only a ring should inspire compromises on sensitive areas like family and church. If your partner is not willing to go all in, they can’t draw lines in the sand, but I would hope that if these core issues are exhibiting themselves early on, you would not be getting married to that person in the first place. Don’t marry someone with the intent to convert them.
Take Your Partner for Granted
You remember how everything was bright and breezy at the start of the relationship? Everyone loves their honeymoon. In some cases, people really do turn out to remain as physically and emotionally attractive many years later as when you first met them.
The quickest way to crumble those attractive qualities is to assume they will always be at your beckon call. We all experience periods of self-absorption. We should be allowed to enjoy our brief moments of selfishness. If you stay too long in that zone, however, you might wake up one day to discover your self-centered tendencies exhausted your partner’s kindness.
The Gottman Institute came up with the idea of an emotional bank account. It’s the idea that you make more deposits into your relationship than withdrawals. If you’re in the green, that is to say, if you engage in more kind gestures, your partner is more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when you inevitably make a mistake. If you’re in the red, it’s likely the two of you will find cause to fight over … absolutely nothing.
This was just a small sample of things that could move the needle in your relationship in the wrong direction. I don’t see them discussed as often as the typical reasons for conflict, but factors like these have a way of keeping you from enjoying a relationship like Cory and Topanga.
When you think about it, these mistakes are easy to avoid. If you’ve got an issue with your partner, talk to them about it, or send them a note if writing it out would be easier to communicate. That doesn’t mean you can’t lean on your support system when you experience static, but pick balanced friends who can show you a level perspective. If you steer too far from the ship, you’re going to make your partner less of a priority and take for granted those characteristics you will miss if you don’t cultivate.
What’s on your mind? What would you add to this list?