We make a lot of mistakes in relationships. We take each other for granted, fail to argue effectively, give ultimatums, try to change each other, and hold the unreasonable expectation that our lover should make us happy. Advanced-stage relationships are not the only time we make mistakes, however, as many mistakes are also made early on, before we really know each other.
Part of building a strong, trusting relationship is getting off on the right foot from the beginning. It has been said that harsh words and hurt feelings are like hammering nails into an old wooden fence. You can remove the nails, but a scar will always remain. The best way to handle mistakes are to avoid them entirely. Here are eight common mistakes we make in new relationships, and what we can do to inhibit them.
1. Excess Baggage
We all have our histories prior to meeting someone new. While it may be tempting to share our life story with a new partner, certain subjects, such as ex-boyfriends/girlfriends should be left on the carousel at the baggage claim terminal. Each new relationship offers the chance for a fresh start, but we spoil this opportunity when we re-introduce old injuries back into our life.
2. The Ex Projection Factor
Just because an ex may have cheated on you doesn’t mean that every partner thereafter will too. It’s a good rule of thumb to resist the temptation to project your ex’s faults onto a new love interest. Unjustified mistrust only creates further mistrust, eroding the relationship from the inside out, making it difficult to develop intimacy. If you find you’re having a string of the same kind of bad characters in your life, it’s time to rethink your dating criteria.
3. Too Picky
Some people who find themselves in new relationships on a regular basis do so because they have very unrealistic expectations. There is a big difference between core values and preferences. Holding out for honesty, integrity and strong character are all worthwhile qualities, but tall, dark and always-puts-the-toilet-seat-down may not be.
4. Mountain from a Molehill
We are often suspicious of new relationships because we don’t know the person very well. It’s very easy to make a mountain from a molehill. People make mistakes, and it’s never worth sweating the small stuff. For instance, if they don’t call within three days, it doesn’t mean they deserve the cold shoulder when they do finally call. All new partners are innocent until proven guilty.
5. Mind the Mechanics
Leave the phone in your pocket when out on a date (baring an emergency). The world has become so inundated with keeping in touch that many of us have forgotten how to enjoy the intimacy (and romance) of a one-on-one conversation. One day, when vacations become nothing more than extended business trips because technology has made us all to accessible, you will long for the days of truly getting away from it all. Start now, and don’t let technology overshadow the importance of your relationships.
6. Floating on the Hormone Boat
When relationships are new, our brains are floating in hormones, bringing a sense of euphoria to everything around us. Resist lingering aboard this love boat, daydreaming about the relationship going places it may not go, and about your love interest doing things they may not want to do. Disillusionment is one of the biggest reasons people become stuck in abusive relationships without realizing what’s happening.
Don’t read too much into the things that happen during each date. Don’t cling to each word, trying to decipher what they’re thinking, don’t obsess about the look on their face when you used the word “we,” and don’t look for signs that indicate how the relationship is going. Sometimes, by adjusting our actions because of what we think is going on, we can ruin a good thing that would have been better off if we’d just let things be.
8. Ignoring Red Flags
Now that I’ve reminded you to relax and let the relationship unfold by itself, I must also remind you that some things amount to much more than a look, a call or a toilet seat. It is proper to give new relationships the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes we have to take stock in the reality of a situation. If your love interest becomes narcissistic, treats people rudely, is unavailable for group outings, and looks upon you with an overly critical eye, you could very well be dealing with a jerk!
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