Is My Relationship Healthy? 7 Goals Experts Say Aren't Good To Have
Having goals as a couple is great. When you're both working together to achieve something, it can bond you together and make you feel like you're part of a team. But thanks to social media, relationships goals have turned into a thing that makes you question whether your relationship is as good as it "should" be. While it's good to have goals, experts say some common relationship goals are actually toxic.
"Relationships goals that can be toxic are goals that are often rigid or based upon an agenda," relationship expert and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle. "When couples and/or individuals have relationship goals without grounding them in reality, they'll often create problems that can ruin their relationship."
The biggest problem with many relationship goals today is we typically base it off what other couples are doing. It's human nature to compare yourselves to others. Sometimes you really can't help it. But when you're constantly comparing your relationship to other people's, you're almost always going to be dissatisfied with yours. The tendency is to create unrealistic expectations for your partner and your relationship, which can lead to things like distance or resentment.
So here are some common relationship goals that can actually be toxic, according to experts.
1. Never Fighting With Each Other
Being a couple that never fights or argues is pretty unrealistic. "Having disagreements with your partner is common and it doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed," Sheila Tucker, licensed associate family and marriage therapist and owner of Heart Mind and Soul Counseling, tells Bustle. "However, stuffing your feelings, and not talking to your partner about what’s going on can lead to resentment and anger." At some point, everything you've been keeping in will eventually come out. It may start with sarcastic jabs here and there, that eventually turn into a full blown out argument. Instead of keeping it in, a healthy relationship goal to aim for is to give your partner five compliments or "build-ups" for every one argument. Build-ups can be planning a date night, leaving them a gift, or just going out of your way to do something thoughtful. According to Tucker, these will show your partner that you care while giving you space to be open with your feelings.
2. Never Going To Bed Angry
One piece of old-fashioned advice that couples still try to do today is to never go to bed angry. But according to Rappaport, this can be an unrealistic goal. "There may be times when couples become too emotional," she says. "In order to avoid saying things they may regret, they should give themselves time and space to cool off so they don't damage their relationship." You shouldn't ever let your issues go unresolved. But it's OK to give yourselves time to be alone and think about what you want to say. Putting your fight on pause and deciding to talk about it in the morning may be better for you. "If they can get their emotions under control and exercise some flexibility, they may be able to come to some sort of a resolution the next morning," Rappaport says.
3. Making Each Other The Center Of Your Worlds
"The number one most toxic relationship goal is make the other person the center of your life," Mitzi Bockmann, certified life coach who specializes in helping people achieve their goals in love and life, tells Bustle. Prioritizing your partner is important if you want your relationship to last. But prioritizing someone doesn't mean dedicating your entire life into making them happy. It can actually be toxic for one person to be the center of your life. "So make an effort to maintain your life outside of your relationship," Bockmann says. "Do things with friends, spend time with co-workers, and spend some of your free time alone. Don't let yourself disappear inside someone else and someone else's life."
4. Trying To Change Your Partner To Be The Perfect One For You
Any goals that involve you wanting to change your partner in some way are toxic. As Dr. Gladys Frankel, PhD, clinical psychologist who specializes in relationships, tells Bustle, "Changing a person is not beneficial." More often than not, trnyig to change a person never really works. They may love you, but you really can't force anyone to do something they really don't want to do. Any changes they make have to come from them. Instead of trying to change your partner, Frankel suggests trying to understand what's bothering you. "Maybe it's a trait that you have and are not comfortable with yourself," she says. If so, it may be something you can work at together. It's important to remember, your partner will never be perfect. So you'll either have to accept them as they are or find someone else.
5. Following Modern Trends To Be Seen As A "Cool" Couple
With social media and people being more open about their relationships, it's easier than ever to create goals based on what others are doing. But as Susan Trombetti, matchmaker and CEO of Exclusive Matchmaking tells Bustle, compromising your true values and following modern relationship trends usually backfires and can be toxic. An example of this would be choosing to open up your relationship because everyone you know is doing it. "Ultimately, most people just think it's the hip thing to do, so they try it at the insistence of their partner not realizing they aren't really on board," she says. "It never works out well when you're just following a fad or giving into your partner." Just because something works for someone else's relationship, it doesn't mean that it will work for yours. When it comes to love, it doesn't matter what's "cool." If you're with a partner that you love and your relationship is healthy, who cares what other people are doing.
6. Doing Everything Together All The Time
There's nothing wrong with wanting to spend all of your free time with your partner. This is what most couples do when they're in love and really into each other. But as Candice Cooper-Lovett PhD, licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of A New Creation Psychotherapy Services, LLC, tells Bustle, "Where it becomes toxic is when one loses their sense of individuality and it's difficult to see where one person ends and the other begins." When this happens, it means you are in a codependent relationship. You and your partner don't need to hang out all the time. As Cooper-Lovett says, just think of your relationship as a Venn diagram. "There are two circles, one is for one partner, the other circle is for the other, and they then join together in the middle," she says. "This is the best description of an interdependent relationship. This should be your #relationshipgoals."
7. Living Together By Six Months And Being Engaged By One Year
If you have a set timeline for when you want things to happen in your relationship, Trombetti says this can set you up for a toxic relationship. "If you're so focused on checking off each milestone off your list, you might not be as focused on your partner and what's actually best for you," she says. "You need to understand relationships move at their own pace." If you both have the same future in mind, it's completely OK to take your time.
Again, there's nothing wrong with having goals as a couple. But you want to make sure your goals are coming from a good place and will help to bring you closer together. These are just some examples of common relationship goals that can be toxic.