“It’s complicated” is probably more than just a Facebook relationship status — whether your status is “Single,” “In a relationship,” “Married,” or “Just ask” — we can all agree that “It’s complicated,” has been applicable at some point in our lives. There’s little doubt that maintaining a relationship is hard work, and what you or your partner are feeling now can change for better or worse in a matter of minutes. The good news is that if you’ve said or done something you’re currently regretting, you’re far from alone. In fact, most relationship mistakes fall into one of several groups, and for the most part, they’re all pretty curable.
1. Having a Passive-Aggressive Attitude
Couples resort to this all too often, whether you feel it’s the only way to get your point across without it turning into a shouting match or whether you have the best intentions in mind by trying to avoid another argument. Sometimes, you may not be conscious of passive-aggressive behaviors. Whatever they might be, find out what they are — perhaps consider what is causing you to repeatedly forget to set the alarm clock for your partner, and then approach them directly about it. If you’re on the receiving end, talking about it is just as desirable.
2. Complaining about Your Partner to Everybody Else
This can be a big one — it probably makes for great entertainment if you have a jealous partner who checks your phone hourly, but this is ultimately, counterproductive, to say the least. Not only are you putting off confronting the problem, but what are minor annoyances can gradually snowball into something bigger the more you bring them up, causing you to no longer see the good in your partner and what made them so endearing in the first place.
3. Questioning Where You Both Stand
This is an easy mistake to make in the beginning, but if you aren’t careful, it can really ruin the initial sparks your relationship might have. While some mystery is good for any relationship, if you’re constantly reflecting on where you stand or how well you’re doing, then you should probably check to see why that is. Live in the present and savor every moment, as your own personal reflection can be perceived by your partner as well, making them feel like they’re the default choice.
4. Where You Put Your Partner
This can sneak up on you rather easily, as you might not fall victim to it until later on, after many happy years together. It’s not easy to prioritize life between your career, immediate family, and kids, and still have time for your partner. It may seem logical to see your children as more important, especially if they are young, or your parents if they are aging, but ultimately, you don’t have to worry about ranking people in your life by levels of importance. By doing so, however, you might begin to question where you rank your partner, and doing so could reveal a shortcoming in your relationship.
5. Feeling Hopeless
This is inevitable. Everyone has a bad day and in a relationship, there are always things you’ll wish were different about your partner. When the feelings of hopelessness persist, however, it’s a warning sign. Feelings of hopelessness can cause you to accept that life will never get better, that it’s meant to be filled with drudgery, leaving you open to increasing difficulties in your current relationship as well as future ones. When you experience these feelings, always try to catch yourself, and in the end consider whether maintaining the relationship is really worth it. Alternatively, channel your feelings of hopelessness into a refusal to give up.
This article was originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Brain World Magazine.