Contributed by David G..
People come to me for help with their relationships. Over the years, one of the most common complaints I have heard centers on a pattern of inauthenticity when it comes to choosing a partner who really meets their needs from the outset. Here are some ways that relationships can get off to an inauspicious start.
Getting caught up in the moment. The beginning of a relationship is exciting and many people become ‘addicted’ to that ‘new love’ feeling. Often they put on blinders, ignoring all the clues that point to things not working out. It is a natural thing to do so don’t beat yourself up about. Before making that leap, it is important to check in with yourself and talk about your concerns. This will deepen the intimacy between you and create a stronger foundation on which to build a relationship that works.
Not picking the qualities you are looking for. Is honesty important? Look for signs that point to whether or not they are honest. For example, if they tell you stories about lying to their friends or if they justify telling little white lies, this is a signal that they might lie to you. Is it important that you spend a lot of time together? Then chances are, someone who travels a lot on business, lives in another state or only likes to get together a couple of times a week, might not be the person for you. Is open communication key? Then going with someone who is unwilling to share their thoughts and feelings probably signals impending doom.
Not discussing what a relationship means to you. There are many forms of relationships so it is important to know what you are looking for and find out how your would-be partner defines relationship. Is it important to you to maintain other relationships but they want you all to themselves? Are you interested in getting married and having a family but they want to steer clear from that kind of commitment? Is monogamy a deal-breaker for you but they are not the exclusive relationship type? If you are not on the same page in terms of the type of relationship you want then conflicts are likely to occur.
Confusing sex with love. While many of us have been raised to believe that sex and love are the same thing, keep in mind that while they can be combined they are two different things entirely. If the only thing you enjoy doing together is having sex and there is not much else you like sharing with each other, this is likely to be a lot of fun but it might not lead to the long-lasting relationship of your dreams.
Not talking about your needs. Since people communicate differently, it is important to understand what your partner means by what they say. Sometimes you may want to talk about what is bothering you and need a solution and sometimes all you want is emotional support. If you don’t state what you are looking for and you end up getting a different response than you are interested in, you might be frustrated while your partner might be confused. Try saying something like this: “This (thing) is really really bothering me and I’d like your help figuring out a solution,” or “I am feeling sad about something and I need to just get it off my chest—all I need is for you to listen.”
Making assumptions. This behavior is a huge problem in relationships. One person says something and the other person interprets what is meant by that statement. For example, if your partner says, “Let’s eat Chinese tonight,” you may hear their statement as a demand to eat Chinese but, in in that person’s mind what they said is simply a suggestion. By asking for clarification, you can find out what they really mean and avoid erroneous meaning-making.
The fact of the matter is this, being honest with yourself about your needs, taking responsibility for setting the tone of your relationship and communicating what is important to you is essential to relationships that works, so why not start at the outset.
How do you ensure that your relationships are satisfying? We invite you to join in this conversation by commenting in the box below.