No matter how fulfilling, open and supportive relationships in our adult lives can be, they sometimes fall apart as if there was never true love in the first place.
Sad as it may be, for some, it’s inevitable. Circumstances may change while you and your partner date, especially if a good bit of time has elapsed since you courted each other. Issues will arise in any relationship, regardless of the strength of the connection. How you deal with the issues is what will hold the relationship together; not if they arise.
Here are the top five issues that I’ve seen break relationships throughout our years of work in the dating industry – hope to shed some light on how to effectively avoid and / or overcome them.
1. Stubbornness or unwilling to compromise. Speaking from both personal and professional experience, stubbornness is a quality that can easily cause rifts in relationships and is actually also quite common. Relationships are all about understanding and compromise. Think about this first from your own perspective. Would you date you? Would you stand for the demands you make? If the answer is no to either of these questions, you should rethink what you’re asking of your partner. Consider the idea that a relationship is a partnership – it’s about two people, not one.
2. Cheating. This is obviously something that will hurt a relationship, and unfortunately it happens quite often. If you are the person considering looking outside your relationship for more of a physical or emotional connection, you need to discuss this with your partner. I don’t mean sitting her/him down and saying “I’m thinking about cheating on you – what do you think?” Almost any issue can be overcome with the right amount of communication. If something is lacking in your relationship, discuss it with your partner. Clarity and resolving your issue can dissolve the want or need to look outside your relationships. One night stand “mistakes” often happen when you give up on the idea that healthy conflict or issue resolution can occur. Stop the temptation before you make a mistake and cheat.
3. Financial discrepancy/miscommunication. The biggest problem that comes with a huge financial discrepancy between partners is insecurity. If there is an understanding in the very beginning of a relationship that one person is more financially stable than the other, this won’t become an issue. However, when it gets left untouched, there will usually be a point where the “less stable” person has feelings of insecurity or even intimidation that (s)he doesn’t bring enough to the table. I often hear from the more financially stable individual that (s)he doesn’t mind if her/his partner isn’t as wealthy as her/himself when in a committed relationship. But again, the conversation must be had, as early on as possible, in order to avoid one or both people experiencing uncomfortable feelings surrounding money.
4. Resentment. This is the sneakiest of all the issues listed in this column because it goes undetected and can fester for years at a time. Resentment usually begins small, where one partner is annoyed by something minor – such as a mannerism or tone. I will hear from clients, “I hate when he does X”. But then when asked if he ever told his partner what was bothering him, the answer is usually “no.” The only way you’ll get your partner to change or shift his attitude is by communicating your thoughts. You don’t need to have a five hour discussion about every little annoyance, but it’s wise not to let these small things get brushed under the rug. They will start to pile up and next thing you know, you’re resenting every little thing your partner does/says, then intimacy will start to disintegrate, and you’ll have a much harder time forgiving, resolving, and working to get past (now) the big problem. If you truly love your partner, tell her/him how you feel.
5. Repression/passive aggressiveness. Resentment often leads to repression of feelings. Why is it that when we get into a relationship that we sometimes feel the need to hide our concerns? Isn’t the whole point of being with someone to share your thoughts and feel comfortably vulnerable with? If you hold back your thoughts and bury them deep within, you will never reach the highest level of intimacy and trust that exists in all healthy long-term relationships. Passive aggressiveness is similar, in that bringing up issues to discuss by way of another issue only intensifies the first problem at hand. Resentment often leads to passive aggressive behavior, which may also snowball into cheating. Yikes! Avoid all of these by being direct with your partner. Keep communication open and encourage and support your partner to do the same.
In the end, it’s wise to look inside and ask yourself if you would date you – with all your feelings, insecurities, and with all you bring to the relationship. Everyone has a baggage and everyone has needs. How you work through your thoughts and present issues to your partner is what will determine if your relationship is meant to be. Long lasting relationships require growth and it takes the strength of both partners to be open with communication and direct about their needs and wants. Be upfront in the beginning and set the tone for open conversation – everything else will fall into place.
Email me with questions or for advice at Meghann@MixologyDC.com