5 common Mistakes in a Relationship

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Love, friendship, intimacy, passion, mutual
support… all these relationship benefits make
for a happier life. Ah, that special someone
you can laugh with, who shares your hopes,
dreams, and concerns – and you don’t have to
book an appointment and pay £80 an hour.
Hold on a moment – we can be in danger of
idealizing relationships. And of course, people
can be happy without an intimate partner. But
however you cut it, relationships do matter.
Research on pain perception even found that
we experience less pain when looking at a
picture of a loved one (1). Healthy
relationships make for good health and should
help you feel secure, strong, loved, and loving
– at least some of the time.
No wonder many people want a relationship.
But for some people, it’s harder for new
relationships to ‘take’, to grow and thrive.
What are the seven most destructive
relationship mistakes? And how can we avoid
them?

Mistake 1: Being too desperate to ‘hook
up’
This is a classic and universal relationship
mistake: Time is ‘running out’, biological
clocks are noisily ticking like estrogen-filled
time bombs threatening to explode, and panic
sets in. Suddenly, anyone with a pulse and
clean(ish) fingernails starts to seem like a
‘good bet’.
‘Wanting a relationship’ is not the same as
wanting to be in a relationship with a
particular person. If you get too hung up on
wanting ‘a relationship’ as a general idea, you
may fall into the trap of:
Flinging yourself at the first vaguely
available (or non-available) creature to
enter the room.
Putting potential partners off if they
sense you’re as desperate as Gollum was
for the One Ring.
What to do: Remember the words of the song
‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and don’t.
Octogenarians can still hook up, so slow
down. Starting a relationship with someone
‘just because’ is like setting out on a voyage
without checking for rot, poor engine
performance, sea worthiness, and your legal
rights. And in the long run, if you have one
eye on the stopwatch, starting up with the
wrong person wastes more time. Which
reminds me…

Mistake 2: Repeatedly going for Mr/Ms
Wrong
If you’re in the market for relationship
mistakes, this one can be neatly combined
with the first mistake. If I repeatedly scrape my
face on tarmac and then wonder why it hurts, I
may need to take stock a little.
But hold on; anyone can mistakenly get
together with a ‘psycho’. Early on, they may
be all charm and attentiveness (and you may
be conveniently averting your eyes from early
telltale signs – such as 24-hour surveillance
on your house). So you can’t always blame
yourself for getting mixed up with the psycho,
but feel free to blame yourself for:
Staying with a psycho once the signs
become obvious.
Deliberately going for someone with
‘dysfunctional features’ that match
characteristics of someone with whom
you had a past destructive relationship
and then later wondering where it all went
wrong (see my face scraping example
above).
Of the two points just covered, the first one is
more forgivable (since I’m in a refreshingly
judgemental mood), because it can feel harder
to break free once you’re in. But the second
one?
What to do: If you’re chronically pursuing
mates (to use the National Geographic term)
obviously flawed to the extent that
relationships will be painful and doomed, then
at least admit this to yourself and don’t be
surprised that ‘relationships always go wrong’.
Knowing your patterns is the first step to
changing them.

Mistake 3: Game playing
There is a great line from a Seinfeld episode,
and I’ll try not to misquote here, in which one
of the characters says to Seinfeld, “You
shouldn’t play games in relationships!” to
which he replies, “What’s the point of dating
without games? How do you know if you’re
winning or losing?”
If we view too much of life through a
competitive lens, we come to treat everything
like a tussle, a chance to score points and get
ahead. Trying to make someone want you
more by acting ‘standoffish’, ignoring them, or
trying to make them jealous is, of course, all
about manipulation. If a relationship starts off
on a basis of game playing, don’t expect any
winners long-term.
What to do: If you want a good quality
relationship, be honest and upfront so you can
both ‘win’ together. And refuse to be drawn
into their games if that’s what they do.

Mistake 4: Wanting too much too soon
Wanting to peg someone down too quickly to
see whether they’re ‘committed’ is like trying
to insist cabin crew serve you their delicious
vacuum-packed fare during take off. Give it a
chance!
Telling someone you love them on the first
date, planning your retirement together, or
talking about ‘us’ and ‘we’ prematurely applies
too much pressure and saps the spontaneity
and fun from the early stages. Having to ‘know
how they feel’ may be fair enough down the
line, but asking them too soon where they see
this relationship going can make them feel like
they’re being interrogated in a job interview.
What to do: Hold off for a while until you
know each other better. Everything that exists
in our Universe, as far as I know, has a time
scale – including love. Don’t be too quick to
establish yourselves as a longstanding couple
when you’ve known each other just a few
weeks.

Mistake 5: Don’t act insecure
I’ve written a whole piece on this, so I’ll be
brief. Give your new dating partner some
space. Even if you feel insecure, acting too
insecure too soon can switch off the
relationship before it starts. Resist the
temptation to be constantly checking where
they are and what they are doing and/or
thinking and feeling. If you really like them,
it’s natural to be thinking about them a lot;
but remember they had their own life before
you came along and they still have that life.
What to do: Acknowledge to yourself that it’s
natural to feel worried that you might
accidently ‘break’ something you feel is
precious, especially in the early ‘fragile’
stages; but remember that a flower seed, once
planted, needs to be left a bit rather than
constantly picked and scratched at.
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