Want to fix your relationship or just keep it running smoothly? Match.com’s relationship expert Kate Taylor reveals the five most destructive things you might be doing every day to sabotage your relationship, and gives her advice on how you can stop them NOW
Don’t get me wrong – your relationship is very important. But so are you. And so is the life you’d so carefully built up before you began your relationship. Don’t be tempted to start putting yourself and your stuff – your goals, interests and friends – in second place when you’re in a relationship, because it won’t get the results you long for.
When we fall in love with somebody new, it’s easy to make them the focus of your world. It feels fun to do that! But over time, if you don’t maintain your own life too, your relationship will feel like it has become your life. You’ll panic at the thought of it finishing because you have nothing else to do, making you more likely to put up with sub-standard treatment. By focussing on your love life, you’ll find other areas of your world start to look neglected, making you spend MORE time focussing on love instead, as problems elsewhere become unbearable… Here’s some relationship advice: Get the balance right. The easiest way sometimes to work on your relationship is to work on other things instead! Keep the interests, goals and friends you had at the beginning of the relationship. Keep them in good condition; tend to them. This way, you’ll have more energy, confidence and enthusiasm when you’re with your partner, and your full, well-rounded life will keep them attracted to you.
2. If Only…
If only he’d buy me flowers every week. If only she’d watch sport with me. If only he earned more money. If only she could lose 10lbs… “If Only”s will damage your relationship very quickly. You might think you’re stealthily having these thoughts but they’ll be visible to your other half through your actions. Yes, they will. You’ll pout when he comes home without flowers, or you’ll fidget resentfully through the movie as you long to watch the big match on the other side. Strangely, “If Only”s are usually the sign you’re in a good relationship! Without real, concrete problems to focus on, you have time to day-dream about hypothetical finishing-touches. My relationship advice? Stop. Instead of thinking about what your partner doesn’t have, think about what they do. Write a list of the top 20 things you adore about your partner and see how that immediately pushes the “If Only”s out of the picture.
You and your partner are a team. One of the easiest ways to damage your relationship is to be disloyal to your partner. So don’t spill all their secrets to your friends, don’t moan endlessly about them to anyone who’ll listen, don’t lie to them (even if it’s easier) and don’t go against their wishes on matters that are important to them – work to find a compromise.
The reason this is important is that the strongest, soundest relationships create their own feeling of “It’s you and me against the world!” But as soon as you destroy that, it’s gone. Some relationship advice about loyalty – see your partner’s best side, be the voice that boosts them up instead of putting them down. If they are someone you can’t genuinely respect or admire, you shouldn’t be with them.
4. Lack of self-care
It’s important to maintain your appearance when you’re in a relationship – not only will it keep your partner fancying you, it will keep your self-confidence high. You’ll keep your sassy, spicy edge which is one of the most successful ingredients in good long-term affairs. But don’t let your health, including mental health, go neglected. When it comes to appearance, the best relationship advice is simply to look after yourself: get enough sleep, eat healthily, exercise. If your partner has an unhealthy lifestyle, try not to copy it for the sake of “going along to get along”. If they eat unhealthy food, don’t give in to their pizza suggestions every time, introduce them to your favourite healthy meals instead or order your own light alternatives. In the first flush of love you might go without rest, but don’t skip sleep long-term, it’ll make you moody and more likely to over-react to problems that arise. Make your health a priority.
This is a very common habit amongst unhappy couples. They compete for everything – who’s the most successful, who’s doing the most housework, who buys the best presents, even who’s the most ill. It’s incredibly unsupportive and is one of the fastest ways to alienate a partner as they’ll soon turn to other people to receive much-needed appreciation and praise. Competition arises when one – or both – partners feels insecure. Disliking themselves, they feel threatened when they perceive their partner to be somehow “better” than them, so they look to redress the balance, either by boasting about their own achievements, or by belittling their partner’s. It can also be sparked by a major life event (buying a home, having a baby, marriage or promotion) that shakes up a couple’s life significantly. My relationship advice here is, if you’re the one feeling competitive, work on improving your self-confidence. The tips in this article will help, so focus on your goals, friends, appearance and health until your partner’s success no longer threatens you. If your partner is the one who always seems keen to out-do you, give them attention and praise and encourage them to build a fulfilling life outside your relationship. Then you should both be able to become one another’s cheerleaders again, instead of feeling you’re on opposing teams.