15 Small Mistakes That Can Make A Relationship Way More Difficult Than It Needs To Be
Relationships can be tough even under the best circumstances. But throw in a few small relationship mistakes here and there, and maintaining a healthy and happy connection can become even more difficult.
"Mistakes can add up over time," licensed psychotherapist Shirin Peykar, LMFT, tells Bustle, "making the relationship incredibly conflicted, if not threatening it altogether." Think along the lines of not communicating, leaving each other hanging, or even skipping out on date nights. Small problems like these — however insignificant they may seem — can start to take a toll.
Do keep in mind, though, that all couples go through rough patches. And it isn't possible to be "perfect" 100 percent of the time. But as long as you know what to look for, in terms of which types of mistakes can start to damage your relationship, you should be just fine.
As Peykar says, "Partners should be attuned to each other through open and honest communication, [making an] effort on a daily basis, [and] checking in with one another." Basically, as long as you both try your best to avoid these pitfalls — and patch up problems as they come along — you can keep your relationship healthy.
Read on below for the small mistakes that can make your relationship more difficult than it needs to be, according to experts.
1. Venting To Friends
It's OK to vent and reach out to friends if you're going through a tough time in your relationship. But getting into the habit of venting about your partner, simply as a way to make conversation, can cause all sorts of problems.
"Well-meaning friends and family may become involved in ways that are unhealthy, potentially causing a breakup," Peykar says. "It's best to keep your relationship private in order to maintain boundaries, as lines can become blurry once the door is open. When problems come up, turn towards your partner instead of away."
2. Not Communicating About Plans
If you have an upcoming vacation, family get-together, wedding, etc., make sure you communicate with each other about how it'll all go down, so neither of you feels upset.
"Expecting something to happen that your partner is unaware of often leads to disappointment, frustration, and even anger, and can eat away at your relationship little by little," Amy McManus, licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
While it may seem like you can guess each other's plans, it's much healthier to say it all out loud, so you can both be on the same page.
3. Passive Aggressiveness
If you two spend a lot of time together, you may find that — instead of talking about the things that upset you — you start to make passive aggressive statements instead. And yet this isn't a habit you want to get into, especially since it can lead to hurt feelings and contempt.
"A much better way to approach this is to clearly state what you are thinking and feeling, and make sure you 'own' it — as in, it’s not your partner’s fault that you feel that way," McManus says. "Then they will have the opportunity to respond without being on the defensive. This is a skill everyone in a relationship could benefit from learning!"
4. Ignoring Each Other
If you don't acknowledge each other throughout the day, take note. "You [may] think everything is OK because there is no conflict right now but what is happening at this phase is your relationship may be dying due to neglect that has become chronic," couples therapist Dr. Gary Brown, PhD, LMFT, FAPA, tells Bustle. "Try saying good morning and physically reaching out to each other."
5. Not Asking Questions
While you may feel like you know each other really well, if you stop being curious and asking questions, it can lead to a feeling of disconnect — and even boredom — in your relationship.
"Make an effort to ask questions about your partner's likes, dislikes, memories from the past, goals, hopes for the future, and anything else that is important to them," Peykar says. "Even talking over details of one another's days can reveal something new. This is at the heart of relationships that last."
6. Ignoring Chores
"Cleaning up after yourself, helping with the dishes, or taking out the trash seem like no-brainers when you’re sharing your space with an acquaintance, but when you live with a partner, these chores can easily get forgotten — especially if your partner has a tendency to pick up the slack," Amica Graber, a relationship expert for the background checking site TruthFinder, tells Bustle.
And while it may fly for a short period of time, it can lead to resentment over time, if you're not careful. "It’s extremely common for couples to fight over household responsibilities," Graber says. "But by keeping on top of your chores, you can avoid these arguments altogether."
7. Allowing Petty Problems To Pile Up
"If your partner does something that bothers you — talk about it," Graber says. And encourage them to do the same.
"It’s good to air out small grievances rather than letting resentment and animosity fester," she says. "By tackling challenges as they arise, you can sharpen your ability to deal with little issues, making any larger problems easier to cope with."
8. Needing To Be Right
If either of you feels like you have to win arguments, at all costs, don't be surprised if you start to butt heads even more.
"There’s no point in winning a fight just for the sake of winning," relationship therapist Jamie Bronstein LCSW, tells Bustle. "It is better to just be honest when you feel that you are in the wrong as it will show that you are emotionally mature and that in itself is an attractive characteristic."
9. Not Listening
There's a big difference between seeming like you're listening to each other, and actually listening. So whenever you're having a chat — especially if it's an important one — "make sure that you really hear what each other is saying," Bronstein says. Not only will this ensure that you both feel heard and supported, but it will help prevent misunderstandings down the road.
10. Expecting Them To Read Your Mind
If you've been together for a while, make sure you don't fall into the trap of trying to "read" each other's minds, or assuming you know what the other is thinking. As Bronstein says, "When you have something you want your partner to know, it’s important to let them know." Instead of waiting for them to guess.
11. Forgetting To Check In
While you don't need to text all day long, "definitely make it a point to check in once in a while," Bronstein says. Sending a quick text during the day is a great way to stay connected, communicate about plans, and even to remind each other that you care — all of which can help keep your relationship on track.
12. Skipping Holidays
While not everyone's a fan of holidays, letting birthdays, anniversaries, and other big events slip by uncelebrated can lead to hurt feelings, as well as a relationship that no longer feels special.
It's not necessary, of course, to go overboard or spend a lot of money. "It’s more about what it means when someone takes the time to do something nice for you," Bronstein says. Whether it's going out to dinner for Valentine's Day, or having fun on your birthday, don't let these things slide.
13. Running Late
It may not seem like a big deal to leave your partner waiting for a few minutes. But if it keeps happening again and again, it can start to affect their trust. And vice versa.
This is especially true if "one person is time sensitive and the other person constantly late," life coach Robert Kandell, tells Bustle. "The tardy partner not informing the other can lead to many conflicts [in] the relationship."
14. Never Offering Help
The simple gesture of asking your partner if they need any help can go a long way in keeping your relationship healthy. As Dr. Brown says, "This comes under the heading of putting the needs of your partner front and center and lets them know that you truly do care for them."
15. Forgoing Date Night
"It seems straightforward, but relationships can be hurt by not having time with one another where you honestly date one another," counselor William Schroeder, MA, LPC, tells Bustle. Even if you just light a few candles and eat takeout at home, setting aside time for each other can help you maintain a healthy relationship.
While all couple will make mistakes, and go through ups and downs, it can be helpful to keep in mind the things that can drive a wedge between you — and avoid them whenever possible.