Learn the three most common ways you can destroy a relationship before it’s too late
You’ve worked so hard to find a boyfriend or girlfriend for you so why would you destroy your relationship? You wouldn’t of course. But a lot of people out there unknowingly destroy their relationships slowly over time.
There are three big ways to destroy a relationship. Note that I said big ways to end a relationship. I could write an endless post on all of the various ways you could wreck a relationship, but I’m going to focus here on the three biggest and most common.
The #1 Relationship Mistake: Lack of Communication
Writing this one, I’m reminded of a Simpsons episode (yeah, I know you wouldn’t think The Simpsons is a source of relationship advice. Homer hears on the TV about relationship problems around town and tells Marge, “You see the problem is communication…too much communication.”
Of course, Homer has it backwards as usual.
Any good relationship is built on communication. This isn’t a big shock but not talking is one of the biggest ways to destroy a relationship. You have to talk to your significant other about both the good and the bad. Neither sex is a mind reader and if you try to make a relationship work by having the other person read your mind, your relationship is going to fail.
Him: “What’s wrong?”
Him: “Clearly something is bothering you. Let’s talk about it.”
Her: “It’s nothing, I’m fine.”
For men, it’s not so obvious. A lot of guys don’t know how to talk about their feelings. It’s easier to go do something and keep busy than to talk about it or even think about it.
Regardless if it’s the man or the woman, a lack of communication will destroy a relationship faster than a lottery winner blowing through their new found fortune. I know it’s not easy to talk about some of the more serious topics of a relationship, like what to make for dinner or whose relative’s you will visit for Thanksgiving. OK, those are very big issues, but there are big issues that you need to discuss if you feel the need to do so.
It’s OK to give yourself time to cool off before talking about a big relationship issue. But don’t use the time to plan your argument. This isn’t a game to be won or lost but a chance to save your relationship. Try to think about your partner’s perspective and how to talk about the problem.
When you start to talk about the issue, try not to use too much ‘guilt’ language like ‘you did this’ and ‘I did that’. Try to frame the conversation as a way to be happier together not as a way to castigate your girlfriend or boyfriend.
Don’t start the conversation with, “We need to talk.” It’s too loaded with negative emotions. Just find a time when you both are not doing something important and go right to the issue.
I had one girlfriend that got herself deeply in debt. We had gotten to the point that we were sharing most bills and finances so it affected us both. It got so bad that she had to get a bad credit loan online to consolidate her debt but the damage was already done. We both knew what was happening but were too afraid talking about it would end the relationship. Turns out, not talking about it was the thing that tore us apart eventually.
Understanding the other sex, especially in a conversation about relationship problems, is tough. One of the best books I ever read on talking in a relationship is John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. It does a great job of helping to understand your partner’s perspective and talking without turning it into an argument.
The Second Way to Destroy Your Relationship: Not Listening
This is completely related to not communicating. If you want to communicate about everything, then the other person has to listen. If you don’t listen, you will never truly know or understand what your partner is trying to tell you and not understanding is going to destroy your relationship.
It’s easy to go on the defensive when someone says, “We have to talk about the relationship,” or when your partner is accusing you of problems in the relationship. This is why it’s so important to approach these talks not as an argument but as a way to work through it. It’s tough, I know.
So what are some ways to really listen in on what someone is saying?
- Don’t be doing anything else. Be 100% present.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Don’t go on the defensive. Accept your mistakes.
- Don’t fire back. Don’t reach back into the memory vault to find something they for every relationship mistake you made.
Of course, this works both ways. Both partners have to be listening during the conversation.
When it comes down to it, listening really isn’t that hard. The issue is that we have 1,000 things running through our heads so we end up not fully listening. If you can learn to tune out those other thoughts while having a conversation, you will become a great listener. And by being a good listener, your relationship will grow as the two of your feel more connected.
The #3 Way to Destroy Your Relationship: Winning the War
This one is part of the communication process but a big relationship mistake so I thought I would give it a whole section.
How often does a simple conversation about a relationship problem become an argument? How often does that argument revolve around, you did this…oh yeah, well you did that?
There’s two problems here. First, if you’re competing for points in the relationship then nobody is going to win. Accept your mistakes and let the other person accept theirs. Don’t try to make your behavior OK because of something they did.
Second, you can’t solve all your problems at once. If your partner did something that hurt you then you should be talking about that issue exclusively, not bringing it up during an argument about something else.
No one is perfect. Even me, though I’m pretty darn close. Focus on the great things about your partner and not their flaws. We all have flaws but if you focus on the great things you get from the other person, then you’ll be able to save the relationship.
Final Thoughts on Mistakes that Destroy a Relationship
These are the three biggest mistakes that destroy a relationship. If you are unhappy in a relationship and want out, that’s another story, but don’t let these three relationship problems ruin a good thing.
A lot of relationships can be saved by just talking about the problem but doing it in a way that doesn’t put either person on the defensive. Really try to listen and understand where the other person is coming from and their perspective.
You may not be able to solve every problem by understanding these three relationship mistakes but it’s a good bet you’ll fix the big ones. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is as committed to the relationship as you are, you’ll find a way together and won’t have to argue about the same things every few months.