5 Reasons Why Most Of Us Suck At Relationships
It’s that time of year again – the leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and all you want to do is cuddle up next to your perhaps-real-maybe-fictional significant other and just soak up all the love and happiness and holiday cheer and…yeah, what a load of crap.
If anything, you and your equivocal partner are probably fretting about what gift to buy each other and how to avoid getting absolutely shit-faced in front of each other’s families during Thanksgiving dinner.
Relationships can be tough and it can feel pretty disheartening when you find yourself getting yelled at, yet again, for dancing on top of the dinner table with a turkey leg in one hand and a pint in the other.
Luckily for you, while you could probably have said no to that fifth glass of eggnog, it’s not entirely your fault if you suck a little bit in your ambiguous relationship (seriously, I have no clue if you’re in one or not).
Here are a few reasons why most of us suck at relationships:
1) We aren’t very good at effectively communicating how we’re feeling
Most of us have difficulty discerning our emotions to ourselves let alone expressing them to another person.
The result is sleepiness expressed as bitchiness, hurt expressed as anger, disappointment expressed as withdrawal, and frustration expressed as passive-aggressiveness.
Our partners cannot read our minds, no matter how many vulnerabilities and romantic moonlit kisses we’ve shared.
Being aware of our feelings and tactfully communicating them can go a long way in bridging the gap between mindreading and understanding. Plus, it can forge a deeper bond, stronger connection, and all that other warm and fuzzy love stuff.
2) We make the relationship about us
I have been guilty of this more times than I would like to admit.
If you tend to lean more on the selfish side of the personality spectrum like I do, it can be dangerously easy to fall into the habit of thinking a relationship is a way to get your needs and wants fulfilled.
You get love. You get sex. You get attention. You get to vent about your boss. You, you, you.
From what I’ve experienced, a healthy relationship doesn’t work like that. It’s not fair or realistic to expect another person to invest their time, energy, and heart into you if you’re not willing to do the same.
A relationship should be an empowering union where each participant both gives and receives love in order to grow individually and as a couple. If you aren’t ready to give as much as you receive, it might be in your best interest to hold off on a serious relationship until you are.
3) We make the relationship about them
This can be just as dangerous but on the flip side of the coin.
If you tend to be more on the giving side of the personality spectrum, you may find yourself willingly sacrificing your wellbeing, priorities, responsibilities, and values just to make your partner happy.
Sacrifice is a critical component of any successful relationship but not when it adversely affects your ability to live life according to your compass.
It’s okay to say no, it’s okay to say “another day”, it’s okay to take care of yourself, and it’s okay to have your own life.
Just like how many businesses were there before you got there and will be there after you’re gone, your partner will survive without your constant catering to his or her needs. If they won’t, it might be time for a change of scenery.
4) We have unrealistic expectations
If there’s something I’ve learned from my time on this planet, it’s that having over-the-moon expectations leads to heartache.
Relationships are rarely as exciting or romantic as Disney taught us to believe. They require perpetual effort, evolve over time, have strange and unique challenges presented on a consistent basis, and teach us things about ourselves and the world that our egos would have been fine not knowing.
A couple unrealistic expectations that can damage relationships are:
4.1) The idea of “the one”
Even if you find someone who is seemingly perfect in every way, the façade will fade at some point.
People have flaws. People change. Circumstances change. Relationships end. None of these are inherently bad but our refusal to accept their reality leaves us grasping at straws when and if they come to fruition.
4.2) Thinking someone will change for you or to be with you
As much as you’d love Billy to stop smoking or Jenna to realize her current boyfriend is a jerk, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be the sole proprietor of a change in their behavior.
People change behavior when and if they want to. We can inspire and encourage it, but rarely can it be forced in a manner that is healthy. Even if someone wants to change, the process is usually slow with a lot of hiccups along the way.
If someone has a deal-breaking habit, your best bet may be to break the deal yourself. If someone isn’t interested in you, you should probably move on. If the sexual chemistry isn’t there, you may want to invest in a big tub of Vaseline (this is a joke folks).
You can beg and plead and wait for somebody to change for you…and they might. Just be aware that they might not.
5) Relationships are tough
Like I said in the beginning, relationships are tough and you don’t have to be a drunken fool on a table to realize it.
No other interpersonal relationship comes with the level of vulnerability, emotional disclosure, sexual intimacy, and life sharing that an intimate relationship does.
You experience every aspect of your partner’s humanity and many of those facets will be confusing, frustrating, and alien. Likewise, they’ll experience the majority of your uniqueness and will have difficulty accepting and understanding much of it.
There’s no such thing as a “perfect” relationship and, truthfully, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
But if you’re up to the task of arguing until 4 a.m. about something you may or may not understand, if you can weather the storm of supporting someone through triumph and heartbreak as they grow while growing yourself, if you’re willing to compromise on an almost daily basis, if you can love your partner despite all their imperfections and shortcomings, and if you are open to experiencing the lowest lows and the highest highs you’ll ever have, then you just might have a shot at succeeding in this relationship thing.