While being single can be a time of excess and freedom (once the trauma has passed) it should also be a time to honestly reflect on what went wrong. On the one hand you will need to abandon feelings of bitterness and guilt in order to accurately delve your personal mistakes from the ashes of your last relationship. On the other, you will need to salvage what worked and what you would like to see again in some form or another in your next romantic investment.
While all add our personal and unique touch to a relationship, there are a number of mistakes that we all make (hence the reasons I too am currently single) at some point or another. Usually the natural in and out of our flings provide a trial and error learning experience that teaches us the hard way. The problem is that sometimes you’d rather not lose someone to learn something (I’m assuming you won’t be getting your ex back at some point).
This article is an attempt to stay your hand from the fire, and I hope it may help you keep those that deserve your love and repel those that don’t (more on that later).
10. Taking them for granted.
I’ll make my point using an example I’m sure we can all relate to. Remember those rare nights out when you really didn’t want to bother with your significant other? You’re out having a drink with your non-judgmental friends and enjoying a bit of emotional relax and then all of a sudden you get “the call”. Whether motivated by stress, jealousy or concern, you’re given the probe and found wanting, insecurity and anger may ensue.
It can be easy to slip into a routine so solid we not only take this concern for granted, but we fail to see through the smoke-screen and react with anger. It’s all too easy to forget that once it is taken from you, you will miss every-darned-second of it, however illogical and manic the manifestation of concern was, it implied a care that we no longer have access too. Granted, sometimes insecurity can be too heavy-handed (and you may be justified in wanting a looser kind of relationship), but never forget the underlying intentions.
9. Assume they can read your mind.
I recall some relationships that were so close that I simply assumed we were constantly connected spiritually, emotionally and physically. Boy, was I in for a shock.
It can be quite amazing how many times your partner will misread you and internalize inexistent slights. Crystal communication is paramount in the long-run, if your partner is not fond of honest and blunt talks now and then, then they are the architects of their own pain and insecurity. Remember how an argument can churn up perceived slights from years ago (and by now they are irremovable no matter how fluently you argue your defense)?
Make sure you have regular talks, precisely because you never know what on earth will turn up. Offenses and misreadings — like cancer — can be cured if caught on time. If not, they are invariably fatal to the relationship because the doubts will grow and fester.
8. Play mind games.
While some games are healthy in that they spice up long-forgotten and exciting feelings such as mystery, romance and jealousy (in moderation), it is a thin line between igniting sparks and emotional abuse. Ask yourself why you do (or did) what you do, and you’ll have your answer. Any form of extortion, blackmail or withdrawal of affection will ultimately be seen for what it is, and burn you.
Prime examples of this are employing the no contact rule after the breakup in order to starve them of affection and guilt. Playing with someone’s head in the hopes of chastising or eliciting a subjectively favorable response will get your dumped when they catch on — and will make reconciliation impossible (terminal loss of trust). When in doubt look to the golden rule.
7. Bad-mouth your partner.
This can seem like a no-brainer, but I feel it is often overlooked. Sometimes we may vent to mutual friends because they may know both partners well enough to offer an opinion. Even if we know that word will likely reach our partner, we remain headstrong and righteous because it is, after-all, the truth. Right? Wrong!
You risk driving off your partner for two reasons. Firstly, the truth is always, and I do mean always, subjective. And secondly, they may not want you to…
6. Disclose private matters.
Their business is their business, just because you’re together doesn’t mean they renounced their individuality. Privacy should always maintained regarding anything which is private, unless you’re absolutely sure they’re ok with it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking even the smallest thing is harmless, it’s all relative — and a product of personal perception.
The mole on their posterior may be cute and entirely human to you, but it may be an on-going state secret to them. Along with the aforementioned loss of trust, you risk worsening their social lives (if only in their eyes).
5. Act strangely in public.
I hate it when partners do this because when you bring it up, you almost always look insecure and fragile. Being the love of their life in private is all well and good, but don’t neglect the feelings of pride and value they receive when you treat them well around others.
This has nothing to do with suffocating and awkward public displays of affection, but everything to do with being their partner. If you ignore them or isolate them, they will begin to feel that you are either on the prowl again, or have bad-mouthed them publicly and are consequently being consistent with those claims. Even if the focus of the outing lies elsewhere, make a special point of making sure your partner isn’t scowling in the corner with a glass of whiskey.
4. Cheating on them.
Need I elaborate?
3. Forget who you are.
Perhaps one of the subtlest causes of relationship failures because it is so hard to monitor. In order to be in a happy relationship, you need to be happy as an individual. Co-dependency is both unhealthy and a one-way ticket to therapy. Never forget what makes you happy. Never lose touch with your friends and family, and never forsake your hobbies and passions. A person who truly loves you will thrive on your independence and quirks. It’s what makes you who you are.
The only point I’d like to make here is that you need to strike your colors early on. It is unfair to change and constantly reshuffle your code as time goes by. Make sure they know what you stand for as early as possible, so that they know better than to expect you to change the foundations of who you are. Resist the urge to please and be honest with yourself and your partner, you’ll thank yourself in the long run (even if it may drive the weak away).
2. Try and change them.
Forgetting who you are is a slow ride off the fast-lane, but forgetting who they are is a fast taxi into the desert. This is the mirror point of (3), you cannot forget or fail to respect that which makes them tick. If after a few long years of suffering passive smoke, you finally decide you can’t deal with it anymore, it is fair to let them know how you feel — but patently unfair to expect them to change. Ultimately, this is a hard decision they will have to make, and they have to make it alone.
Even if they do agree, recognize that they are making a sacrifice and it may directly infringe upon their own short-term happiness. Don’t pile it all on at once, cut them some slack and let them know how much it means to you.
1. Let yourself go.
Unless your partner is with you with the sole ambition of feeling superior to you, much of the attraction will be based on how much value they attribute to you (usually in excess of themselves). Whether you like it or not, to some extent you must retain that attraction by being in control and physically up-to-par (not necessarily fit, but certainly no worse than you were when the “contract” was signed).
You could argue it’s unfair, and you might be right. But let’s be realistic, a partner will look at the trend and if it’s heading south-south-east they may decide to pull the plug on the project before it get’s too far. Remember that they will be judged by the company they keep, and if you’re rotting it doesn’t speak well of them either, defending your intentions and ambitions ad nauseum will wear thin. As superficial as it sounds it can be dumpable offense, particularly in younger couples. Respect yourself, and they will love you for it.