If You’re Doing These Things, You’re Crippling Your Relationship
After the initial spark. The curiosity of wanting to know everything about this new person. After exploring his new body, mind, and perspectives on life and the world. What he likes to eat. What his dreams are. How he was as a kid. After the magic dust of what this could be settles and what is emerges. When fantasy fades, reality kicks in, and the recess bell rings, that’s when the actual building of a relationship begins.
When the real work starts.
Yes, love starts when the shit comes up. Your past. His wiring. Fears. Family dynamics. Old tugs. Attachment styles. Love languages. The contrast of two people deciding to truly show themselves and realizing that love is a choice. Not a feeling. Everything before that was infatuation. The dopamine of discovering someone new.
And if you both do not start the process of looking inward and working through the shit aka doing “the work”, you run the risk of snapping back to who you used to be. And of course, the relationship falling apart. And instead of creating a new love experience, which always exists beyond your reactions and pulling from what was, you cement patterns, stunt growth, and wonder why you never find love.
The excitement of someone new always fades. It doesn’t matter how strong that initial connection is. Magnets eventually flip.
That’s why we must start the process of processing. This is how you flip the magnets back. Start asking yourself tough questions about you and your patterns. Explore why you do what you do. Feel what you feel. Shut down. Don’t speak up. Throw chairs. Whatever your love reactions are. If you don’t lean in and explore self, you will most likely drift, shut down, or run. Insert the famous saying, “You either growing together or growing apart.”
But many don’t know where to start. They know something is wrong but not sure what. So here are five areas to look at. It’s a broad sweep but necessary. They are foundational. Ask yourself if these things are occurring in your relationship. But start with you. Look inward first.
- Combating your partner’s self-expression with defense.
Holding a safe space for people to be heard is crucial in any relationship. It’s soil and also an ability that comes with practice. If you are not holding a safe space, you are not producing connection. Instead, you are disconnecting with your partner. You are making the relationship a one-way street. With potholes.
One common way we don’t hold a safe space is by always defending instead of truly listening to our partner. Holding a shield. Not space. Not allowing your partner to be heard. By doing this, you’re saying their feelings don’t matter. You are rejecting their truth and wanting them to accept yours.
People who are always defensive will never grow. Because ownership and defensiveness cannot live in the same space. Without ownership, there is no learning or evolution.
Allow all expression. You don’t have to agree. But both people should create a space for each other to be heard. Once people are heard, then you guys can have a conversation about differences. This should be coming from a caring empathetic place. You are not in a courtroom fighting your case (AT). You are trying to understand your partner better (WITH). This process never stops. Because we are not stagnant creatures. We are always changing. To love someone means to try to understand them. Constantly. If you are defending, you are not understanding.
2. Harboring anger and resentment.
It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, if you are holding on to anger and resentment — > your are creating relationship death by a thousand paper cuts.
One of the most common things that destroy relationships is holding onto anger and resentment. Most of us carry it because we don’t want conflict or we’re afraid of confrontation. Or maybe we convince ourselves it’s not a big deal so we suppress it. But resentment doesn’t just dissolve on its own. It becomes a poison. A growing virus that seeps into the veins of the relationship. Then one day you wonder why you’d rather detail your car than have sex.
That saying “never go to bed angry” is legit. Anger doesn’t dissolve. It hardens. Unless you talk about it. Maybe a thousand times. Choose to forgive, daily. Untangle the mess and feelings.
If not, the anger will create a crowbar that splits you guys. Until it’s too late, people have drifted too far, and feelings have permanently changed.
3. Not building/having your own life.
Many fall into a relationship and lose their life. Not on purpose or overnight. But slowly, like a leaky faucet. Daily routines and doing everything with your partner starts to eclipse your own space and sometimes even dreams.
You put your relationship above everything else, including your wants and needs. Like a tightening vice, and by the way the one tightening is you not love, friends slowly get pushed aside. Passions projects never happen. Trips get canceled. Your relationship has become your sun. You revolve around it and two lives become one. Blurry.
Love is not about two people sharing one life. Love is about two people coming together to share two separate lives. Two pistons pumping is what drives the engine (relationship) forward.
Not building, focusing on, and having your own life, as you did when you were single, cripples the relationship. It makes things sticky and changes the dynamic, especially if one person does have her own life and the other doesn’t. The relationship becomes lopsided. And whenever things get lopsided, chemistry changes. We start carrying someone instead of walking next to them. And people can feel heavy very fast.
A relationship should not prevent you from building whatever you were building before you met your person. Yes, things can change. Priorities can shuffle. But you should still be running toward your true north. It’s not just about you and your own life. It will also help the relationship.
4. Not having respect for your partner.
Respect is ground zero.
Without it, nothing above matters.
If you don’t respect your partner on some level, it’s nearly impossible to build trust. And without trust, there is no relationship.
Chances are, you had respect for your partner in the beginning or it would not have gone this far. But maybe over the years, things happened. Maybe there was infidelity. Maybe he changed as a person. Maybe he made decisions that didn’t line up with your values. Or life choices you didn’t respect. Maybe he has become unhappy over the years and now a total asshole to himself as well as others. Any of these can cause you to lose respect.
When you don’t have respect for someone, you treat them differently. They lose their cape, go from hero to villain. You don’t see them like you used to. They go from adult to child. You have less patience and tolerance. Their thoughts, ideas, and opinions, which you valued so much, now has little weight.
Yes, respect needs to be earned. But like love, you can choose to respect someone. It can be a daily choice. Unless you have zero respect for this person which then means you probably shouldn’t be with him anyway, you can work on respecting him because that’s what love means. Because he is the father of your child. Because he is doing his best. Because he has come a long way. Or maybe just because he is being honest with where he’s at.
Because if you do, things can change.
The way you treat someone changes the way they treat you.
It may be the first domino that changes everything.
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