Common Mistakes Couples Make and How to Avoid Them
Common Mistakes Couples Make | SO, you’re in a relationship! Congrats, you’ve found love! But what happens when after a while, the ease of your connection seems to take a turn? Now all of a sudden, you find yourselves struggling with finding things to talk about or initiating sex feels awkward. What happened?
Many people in longterm relationships don’t admit that keeping the spark alive can be challenging at times. The misconception is that love and relationships are black or white, good or bad, but the reality is we don’t have much tolerance for stagnation or discomfort! You can be passionately in love with your partner and struggle with having the energy to have sex with them; you can like your partner but have nothing to talk about; you can want to be together but question where your spark has gone.
Many of us don’t have the tools and feel nervous about “what it means” when things start to fizzle or become more challenging. Couples often resort to arguments or shutting down, which only magnifies the disconnect.
As a Relationship Therapist, I often hear the question:
“Why does communication, connection and sex become more challenging as time goes on? Shouldn’t it be the opposite?”
Seems logical, that the longer you are with someone, the easier it should be to sustain the connection (or the more you feel security in the relationship to take risks). Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. That belief sets unrealistic expectations on our partners and our relationship, and can often leads us down a path of disappointment.
5 Common Mistakes Couples Make and How to Avoid Them:
- #1 They Make Assumptions
- A common mistake couples make in their communication together is they often don’t ask enough questions to clarify if their partner feels or thinks a certain way; they just make assumptions about it and focus on the story that is in their head.
- This leads to a common disconnect and misunderstanding / can lead to resentment longterm.
- How to avoid: Seek counseling if you struggle with communication. Preventative couples counseling is a new trend in my industry and the two of you can proactively learn how to effectively communicate before any significant damage has occurred.
- Focus on asking more questions before you assume you know what your partner is thinking or feeling, ex: “Hey, can I get a gauge for where you are before I assume you’re upset?”
- Focus on curiosity. This will help in all of your relationships.
- Focus on empathy. Why might your partner be acting this way?
- Focus on giving partner the benefit of the doubt.
- #2 They Stop Dating Each Other
- A common mistake couples make is they eventually stop dating each other. Their lives become so intertwined that they only reserve special dates for anniversaries or special events.
- Couples often take advantage of time spent together (like eating dinner) and don’t make it intentional. If both of you have to eat dinner and happen to eat next to each other watching TV or scrolling through your phones, you are missing an opportunity for connection.
- How to avoid: Dating isn’t just about going to a new hip restaurant together. Dating is about curiosity, intimacy and quality time. Dating is about learning something new about each other and exploring different things together. Focus your “dates” on new experiences.
- Focus on curiosity and ask tons of questions like you would on a first date. Make your partner feel seen.
- Focus on igniting the romance regularly
- Make it a priority to flirt with your partner daily
- #3 They Let Resentment Build and Never Resolve It
- Maybe something happened in your relationship that caused a break in trust but you haven’t gotten the closure you need. Maybe a series of events have occurred and change hasn’t happened. Either way, if you haven’t been able to repair this together, it can linger and subconsciously affecting your relationship down the road.
- A common mistake couples make is sweeping things under the rug and waiting until the perfect moment to bring it up. Or at least that is what they tell themselves… It is crucial for the two of you to learn how to have conflict, or at least have challenging conversations to eventually get to a common ground. Without it, you’ll be sweeping so much under the rug that eventually it will leak out and expose the mess that has accumulated.
- How to avoid: Seek counseling prior to an issue occurring in your relationship is ideal, but if that isn’t your case, it may be helpful to seek it now. Learning how to communicate effectively with each other will be a crucial tool to have for the entirety of your relationship.
- Focus on being honest with yourself and explore your expectations for change.
- Focus on what it is that you would ideally like “closure” or a solution to look like.
- #4 They Don’t Individually Do Their Own “Work”
- If you don’t know what upsets you or how to calm yourself down, how do you expect your partner to?It is so important to commit to doing your own emotional, physical and mental work for the betterment of yourself, as well as your relationship.
- A common mistake couples make is not knowing how to effectively apologize. Most often it’s because they are struggling with their own shame and can’t muster the courage to e
- How to avoid: Learn how to understand yourself better through mindfulness, coaching and/or therapy.
- Focus on understanding your own setbacks, insecurities and triggers, which will allow you both to communicate more effectively with humility and grace.
- Be mindful of your projections and blame.
- Focus on your autonomy in the relationship. It’s important to prioritize your independence, too.
- They Don’t Push Outside of Their Comfort Zones
- A common mistake couples make is staying stagnant and comfortable. Contentment isn’t a bad thing, but not introducing experiences or conversations that activate discomfort is actually doing your relationship an disservice.
- How to avoid: If you find yourself uncomfortable with something in your relationship, explore why. What do you need to help you feel more safe with letting down your guard?
- If you’re feeling unmotivated or too tired, maybe it’s time to take something off your plate.
- Focus pushing your own envelopes. (Try our date boxes for some inspiration on how!)
Are you in a longterm relationship and have fallen into any of these mistakes? (It’s ok, we have too!) Share your experience and what you do to maintain your relationship!