Having a successful relationship involves dedication, hard work, and equal participation from both partners. However, what a successful relationship looks like can be different for everyone. Love has a variety of expressions, called "love styles," that people or couples may identify with. Here are some of the common types of love styles:
- Romantic - based more on attractions
- Best Friend - having a strong affection and caring
- Logical - having shared goals and values
- Playful - often more challenging and flirtatious
- Possessive - obsessive and jealous
- Unconditional - unselfish and nurturing
Regardless of your love style, being in a relationship often comes with ups and downs and it’s important to pay attention to some of these common mistakes.
Here are some common relationship mistakes:
Being “the winner” of an argument. Don’t focus on proving you’re right and that your partner is wrong. Instead, try to understand the other’s point of view while being respectful to each other.
Losing your independence. Don’t lose your SELF identity in a relationship. Make sure to take some time for yourself once in a while. Spend some time at lunch with your friends or catch an afternoon movie.
Lack of having fun together. Couples that are happy enjoy being together and have fun. Make sure to plan things that you both enjoy, and most importantly, find time for laughter.
Stalking your partner on social media. While it can be okay to scan through Google to make sure they don’t have a flawed history, stalking them on Instagram or Facebook may give you a different perception of who they actually are.
Not paying attention to the small things. No matter how small, make sure to say “thank you” and show gratitude. Pay attention to the things your partner does and make sure to return the favor. A small gesture such as grabbing them a cup coffee can go a long way.
If you are stuck in the same negative relationship patterns, it may be time to take a closer look and be open to change. It’s important to look deeper into failed relationships in order to learn and grow.
Ways to avoid making the same relationship mistakes:
Be more aware of YOU. Are you a people pleaser, or someone who everyone sees as nice and kind? If so, you may be more drawn to a partner that needs to be “fixed.” Examine your expectations of a partner and don’t fall short just because you want companionship or are pressured by others to be in a relationship.
Set boundaries. Setting up boundaries on the way you want to be treated is key to being respectful of each other. It’s important to identify problems in a relationship and be direct and assertive with setting limits.
Avoid comparing your relationship to the relationships of others. Everyone is different and has different values and beliefs. Seeing another couples relationship as perfect can set you up for failure. Remember, you don’t always really know what's going behind closed doors.
Communicate. People are always changing so it’s important to talk often about meaningful things such as family, job interests, goals, and successes. Check in with your partner to stay connected on an emotional level but also know your limits. Sarah McKenzie, LAFMT, Outpatient Therapist with Acenda Integrated Health explains, "communication is so important in relationships, but sometimes we become so overwhelmed by emotion that we stonewall, or shut down, and emotionally detach from our partners. I think it is important to know when you need a break from a conversation, so that you can be present and communicate more effectively with your partner."
Do the work and put in the effort. It’s easy to get comfortable with your relationship and forget to pay true attention to your partner. No relationship is perfect and it always takes constant work. If your relationship is strong and worth it, you will find a way to get through the tough times, but it will take effort on both parties.
Mistakes will always happen, but it’s important to pay attention to mistakes and be willing to accept them and change and grow from them.