7 Relationship Mistakes That Are OK To Make When You First Start Dating, But Shouldn't Still Be Happening Long-Term
While the beginning of a relationship may be super fun and easygoing, it can also be a time that's riddled with mishaps and mistakes. When you and your partner first start dating, you don't know each other very well, and thus don't know how to argue or understand each other as much as you do down the line. And as a result, you may find yourselves making a few common early relationship mistakes.
And that's OK. "It is actually important for couples to make mistakes," relationship coach Carla Romo tells Bustle. "This is essential for learning one another's boundaries for building mutual respect. It also creates an opportunity to communicate with one another effectively."
This is how you'll figure each other out, and create relationship "rules" going forward. "Mistakes often happen when you do not know how another person will react or their boundaries," Romo says. "If you or your partner makes a mistake and genuinely wants to change that behavior in the future, then there is nothing wrong with it." It's all about the learning process.
Mistakes only become a problem when they become a habit, and leave you both feeling frustrated and misunderstood. Here are a few mistakes experts say are OK to make early on, as long as you learn from them, and make a point to change.
1. Acting (And Feeling) Jealous
Jealousy happens to the best of us, but it tends to be most intense in the early days of a relationship — especially if you and your partner aren't "quite sure of the status of your relationship," Justin Lavelle, Chief Communications Officer for Been Verified, tells Bustle. While that's understandable, "there comes a time when the green eyed monster needs to be shown the door."
Eventually, you'll both want to move past this stage, and settle into a more stable relationship. "Jealousy and the lack of trust it implies can be very damaging to a relationship, as the focus is always on the possibility of another person being part of the equation," Lavelle says. "Don’t go looking for reasons to be jealous and if your partner is demonstrating behavior that would give you cause to mistrust [them], address it."
2. Being A Bit Selfish
It can take some time to adjust to the role of "partner" and being in a relationship. And during that stage, you and your partner might make the mistake of being a bit selfish. "This can easily happen in the beginning because the both of you are still learning how to share a life together," Bethany Ricciardi, a relationship expert at TooTimid, tells Bustle. "You might be used to doing your own thing and can't remember the last time you had to check in with someone. Or, you just simply aren't used to having to consider anyone else's feelings or schedule."
And yet, as it goes with all bad habits and relationship mistakes, you'll want to eventually find a better balance. "You can still indulge yourself in the things you enjoy, but you should [get to] a point where instead, you'd rather do something you both enjoy," Ricciardi says. "You have the independence to be alone, but prefer to be together. You're still your own self, but no longer selfish."
3. Not Listening To Each Other
Similar to selfishness, it's OK to talk incessantly about yourselves in the early days, since you're still getting to know each other. But be sure to eventually turn the tables, and hear your partner out as well.
"It is easy to fall into the habit of consuming a conversation and going on and on about your family, friends, work, passions and hobbies, important memories or events in your life in an effort to help your partner get to know who you are," Lavelle says. And yet, this shouldn't become a habit. "Always talking about yourself does not give you the opportunity to learn about your partner," Lavelle says. "Avoid this by finding equilibrium between speaking and listening."
4. Avoiding Conflict
At the start of a relationship, you may want to avoid conflict at all costs, since you're still in the honeymoon stage and don't want to create a situation that feels tense.
"You may just brush things under the carpet," Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of RxBreakup, tells Bustle. But if this turns into a habit, it can spell disaster down the road. "This can eventually lead up to a heated dispute that may result in a breakup/divorce."
So, while it may take time, it's important to get used to bringing up uncomfortable issues. "We, as humans are not mind readers," Reardon says. "Your partner won’t know if something is bothering you unless you tell them. Do yourself and your partner a favor by letting them know when something is wrong. Communication is important and should not be shunned for a relationship to really work."
5. Triggering Each Other
It can be tough to know what's OK to say and what's not OK to say while you're still getting to know each other. But once you know, it's important to avoid triggering topics, whenever possible.
"In the early stages of a relationship this can happen by accident," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web radio show, tells Bustle. You might hit a sore point, or bring up an issue that your partner doesn't want to discuss.
But once you do, "you can learn quickly that this is delicate territory," Klapow says. Mistakes happen, and one or both of you may slip up again at some point. But for the most part, triggering topics can and should be avoided going forward.
6. Having Poor Communication Skills
Similar to avoiding conflict, you may find yourselves confusing each other, as you figure out each other's communication styles. "Often people don’t say what they mean, [and then] expect the other person to understand," psychotherapist and life coach Jasmin Terrany, LMHC tells Bustle.
But this is something you can and should work on. "It’s very important for people to realize that when communicating it is their job to make sure the other person understand what they are saying," Terrany says. "Communication is the foundation of all relationships, and if two people don’t properly understand each other then it’s very hard to build anything lasting." This can take time, but since it's possible — and completely necessary — to learn, it's not a mistake you should keep making.
7. Being Passive Aggressive
Before you learn your communication styles, and mature into a healthy relationship, it's all too easy to come off as passive aggressive. And that's not cool. "A passive-aggressive partner will act out, sabotage, or strategize ways to get revenge," Lavelle. "[They] may 'forget' special events or favors, deny involvement in fights, blame others for mistakes, procrastinate, and play victim."
And yet, as you might have guessed, this behavior "damages productive communication — a key component in long-lasting relationships," Lavelle says. "As soon as you notice your partner or yourself doing this, talk about the issue as a team. Use the pronoun 'we' rather than 'you' in the conversation. And try to figure out the underlying cause of your anger and work on solution."
If you catch yourselves making the same old mistakes over and over again, often all it takes is a conversation, and figuring out ways to act in a healthier way. Everyone messes up occasionally, but if you want your relationship to last long-term, it's smart not to keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again.