Some relationship advice now. I am not a relationship expert by any means. I have some experience in coaching people on relationships before. I have taken numerous courses around this subject, even got married for two months (fake) to try out what marriage feels like. Now, it is not the real deal but it is something.
These are my observations in my own relationships and my friends, my clients, stuff I have read in books and I thought, ‘that is actually true’. Take them as my opinions and hopefully, you can relate. I have tried a lot the bullshit out there, taking one course after another only to realize they are all the same – different forms – ideologies, but the same nonetheless.
To navigate your relationship, you have to spend some energy into what works for you, for that self-awareness and attention are necessary to see what is going around you and in the person you are in a relationship with.
Here I am only trying to give some pointers to the nature of relationships that I have observed in my journey so far.
So, without further ado, these are the top reasons that cause relationships to fail, they are not in any particular order, I have only listed them out as they came to me.
1. You rely on your friends saying “it’s not you, it is them”
Well, choose your friends carefully. Are they saying this because they don’t want to hurt your feelings? Women face this problem more than men, men are rather straight forward to their friends and less reserved in saying the truth to their peers.
It’s not you, it’s them!
That is something that your mom used to tell you to make your feel better. You don’t need moms around you, you need friends who tell you what they see.
Now, that does not mean you should base your life on your friend’s opinion either. The point is to know when flattery and persecution are going on. To be more accurate, are they trying to rescue you from feeling bad, so it is not awkward for them, or are they criticizing you because it provides them the pleasure of being your authority? Does it provide you the comfort of being listened to and told what to do because you don’t want to think for yourself?
Relationship advice is always the best when it is coming from your own observation than any expert.
2. You have a trophy relationship
What is worse than having no relationships?
One wants a relationship because it will make them look good in front of their friends. They can show their partners off in front of the public, especially when they have power/status and/or money.
3. You want to be in a relationship because your friends are in a relationship
We compare ourselves to our friends and others almost every moment, in every interaction verbally or otherwise. A woman comparing herself to another better-dressed woman in the underground, a man comparing himself to someone who has a hotter girlfriend and so on.
If you have friends who constantly boast about how good their relationships and you compare and say, you must be in a relationship, such kind of relationships are not real relationships. You are only trying to position yourself better in front of your friends so you can also talk about your relationship. Most times, your friends have the trophy relationships I was talking about earlier.
4. You want a relationship because you are lonely
Relationships cannot cure your loneliness. In fact, I don’t think your loneliness has rarely anything to do with how many friends you have or if you are in a romantic partnership. Loneliness is an ego activity caused by mostly thinking that everything revolves around you. I know it might be hard for some to grasp, but I won’t go into the detail here.
No one can fill the void, emptiness or whatever you want to call it.
Happiness is an inside job, as some famous person said.
A relationship based on loneliness tends to be one where you expect others to do things for you, demand that they do, and you get upset if they don’t.
5. You demand that your partner do things for you because you think they are obliged to do so
In short, you are entitled. Women have this more than men when they go into a relationship. Some are overt about it, but most women are covert about it. They manipulate their partners into a scheme of “give and get”. They think, the more they give, the more they will get back. Sensible men don’t operate this way. And men who are ‘nice guys’ have the same behavior. I know this because I had a lot of nice guy traits, and still have so many and I observe this in other men around me too. Which brings to my next point.
6. You think you need to be fixed or need to be better
You think there is something wrong with you and need someone else to fix you. Or you think your partner is broken and they need to be fixed.
The one needs fixing does not have to take responsibility for their life because the partner takes that responsibility. But it breeds resentment because the situation does not seem to improve and the one needing fixing gets to blame their partner for their mood changes for not keeping the fix-ee happy and so on.
Whereas the fixer, the one who is fixing, gets to boost his pride by saying ‘see, I am keeping her happy, I am fixing her problems’ so that must mean that I am a good person and treats it as a virtue. They get to control their fix-ees, but really that often fails which leads to more and more frustration for the fixer.
If you think you are either fixer or a fixee, you are building a vertical/hierarchical relationship where one is superior to the other and that is not a good relationship in my opinion.
7. You demand security from your partner
Either overtly or covertly you demand security from your partner. I want to be clear I am not talking about being subservient and letting you get physically abused. I am talking about the people who see their partners are objects for security.
Men think, if I get in a relationship, I get a constant supply of sex and emotional support. The security of sex and pleasure and getting tender love as one would from their mothers. Women think of the financial security that they get from their partner, the convenience of lifestyles with their potential prospects. Men using women for sex and emotional support mainly, and women using men for money and emotional catharsis to put it bluntly. Both sexes objectify each other, women tell men they are objectifying the women, but in truth, I think it is more the other way around.
8. You live with an idea of love rather than enquiring what it is really
I blame the traditions and cultures. And pop culture and popular media. The word ‘love’ is rather overused. It is rather more seen as an achievement sometimes. To fall in love at some point, to be in love at some point etc. You compare what is in your relationship with the idea that you have about love that you have accumulated from the movies, what your friends and parents have told you. In that comparison, you are never with the person. You are always in your head with your idea of love.
It is worth abandoning the word or the idea of ‘love’ altogether and sees what is between you and the other, be present and be curious. There is so much to know about another human being without all your prejudices and ideals of love.
9. You judge your partner with your ideal man or woman and reject/or fall in love with that idea
Check if you are observing, interacting with your partner with an image of what the ideal man or woman should be. ‘Oh, he is charming, strong, social or whatever’ or ‘Oh she is hot, feminine, kind, compassionate’ etc. When you have these ideals, you are sometimes quick to jump to conclude whether the other falls within your parameters of the ideal man or woman or not, and you accept or reject them with such intensity. The result is you fall in love with your ideal too quick but as time goes on you start to see this person is not the person that you fell in love with. It is good to check if you did indeed fall in love with this person at all, to begin with?! They feel like they have been lied to when they find out the person is longer who they initially were, but it was simply voluntary self-delusion. Any such fantasy you have about another person can only be maintained through effort, so it is easier in the beginning of the relationship, because most of them engage in such fantasy in the beginning and is done rather unconsciously and effortlessly, but as time goes on in a relationship the fantasy fades and the direct experience hits.
People who reject others with any such prejudice lose on good opportunities, obviously. They seem to attract the wrong kind of partners and complain about why no relationship for them works out.
You become such a brilliant storyteller, you make up stories about the other good or bad, why it is in your right to punish the other (because they lied) or because their traits are wrong (because they don’t match up to what you think is ideal) and so on.
10. You go for unavailable partners because you’re afraid of intimacy emotional and/or physical
Some people are aware of this behavior if they have done some kind of self-inquiry, and others are totally oblivious to it – so they go on complaining about how their partner is unavailable to them without realizing they have a part in it. The people choose such partners because they don’t have to emotionally to physically to close to the other person. Maybe because they are afraid of intimacy or they don’t know how to be.
When you don’t believe you are not a good person and are ridden with shame, because your parents over criticized you or wasn’t very attentive to you, you start to believe that there is nothing good in you. When we are children, we consciously think about how unworthy we are, and it gets pushed down to your unconscious with enough repetition – the story of how unworthy one is, that is.
And your partner is the same, he/she might not believe they are good enough for you either. So, they keep themselves busy with work because they don’t see the value in emotional intimacy with another. I am not saying everyone who is busy is like that, but I have observed most who I have come to observe. Sometimes people bury themselves in work, especially men because they want to get away from the nagging from their wives and girlfriends, avoid their kids etc. Well at that point, you probably don’t need to be in that relationship at all, unless you take a look at yourself and decide to change your nagging behaviors. It is always a good thing to ask yourself ‘what is your part in contributing to the situation?’ and address it, clean your side of the street and see what happens. If that does not work out, leave.
If you are afraid of having sex, put less focus on finding a long-term partner, and put more focus and having sexual experiences. Don’t be that picky, set your ideals down a bit. But be sure to know your own boundaries and operate within that, slowly expand those boundaries as your comfort grows. You can follow a process of systematic desensitization.
11. You are a control freak and you want to be risk-free in your relationship
Relationships are risky, you risk getting hurt, challenged and disagreed with. Ultimately you have to ask yourself is it merely your ego getting hurt or is there any actual hurt happening.
In order to avoid hurt, some use controlling behaviors to ensure their partners not act in ways that will be hurtful to them. They may be oversensitive, create stories about someone’s behavior that are not real to keep the sense of your rightness. Any blow to that control structure will feel like hurt. It is important to understand the nature of hurt – what hurt is. It is merely a blow to the image of you, you have about yourself. If you think you are kind and virtuous and someone calls you an asshole or a bitch you feel hurt, for example.
You want to be loved by your partner obviously. There needs to be love for a healthy relationship, as I was saying, love about beyond one’s prejudices and ideals. But when you demand to be loved that is simply quite needy. It is a very selfish behavior and not very attractive. It is good to be appreciated. But, when you demand or are needy for validation from the other, your behavior becomes transactional in the relationship, anything and everything that you do comes from the need to be validated by the other.
You want constant validation in terms of your looks – mostly for women or if you are a man you want validation from your women on how smart or competent you are. People seek for the validation that they never got from their parents when they were children especially when there was not much affection expressed overtly in their families. Men tend to look for the motherly tenderness and warmth from a woman and expect the woman to say he’s a good boy and it is the others who are the problem not him, and the woman looks for the validation in terms of how much of a good girl they are, doing things for their partners in relationships, hoping that their acts will be recognized someday just like they wished their father would recognize the goodness someday.
The opposite also can happen where one’s mother was the one who gave them the much-needed validation, or their dads. So, they try to replicate those relationships, rather unconsciously and choose partners who have those behaviors.
They may also become overachievers, because they have competitive siblings, to win over the affection of their parents, or simply to be liked. These behaviors never stop at childhood, and as I was saying before, these behaviors get pushed into the through repetition of your own perceived experience and eventually starts leaking into every romantic relationship one has. People who have gone through such a childhood decides that they will never ever experience that again, they will be treated with respect and start building walls around them not to get hurt in that way again. Here the demand gets extreme, it becomes ‘my way or the highway’ kind of situation. They confuse unhealthy and restrictive, connection blocking emotional walls for healthy boundaries.
12. You are trying things in your relationship
Doing your part in the relationship is necessary in a healthy relationship. But it can be easily confused with manipulating your partner. I say, “what if I do this and let’s see how she reacts”. Saying a certain thing, behaving a certain way to hook the other person towards liking you, or to stay in the relationship.
The woman says, you treated me badly – no sex for you for the next week, mostly covertly in an attempt to punish the man for their behaviour rather than have an honest conversation about it, objectifying oneself in the process (I am only using the term ‘objectify’ because I hear people talking about this – I think it is a made up term to shame men, everyone objectifies everyone because of their need for security), taking the role of the provider of the ‘sex’. The silent treatment is another one.
Men being needy, try to say certain loving and romantic things to get women to bed though they don’t actually mean anything they say. Men trying to do favors to the women so she will see him for what a nice guy he is and eventually fuck him. Or see his goodness and stay in the relationship. Men have heard, vulnerability is the new fashion, so they try that.
Sometimes people don’t have any bad intentions per se. They just want to be good to each other but end up trying too hard believing that they are not good enough, they don’t want to be harmful to each other. If you find yourself constantly applying formulas and methods to your relationship, formulas from books, your friends’ advice to keep the relationship afloat, stop! I am not saying the relationship is doomed at that stage, you simply have to stop the effort and be observant and present to each other.
13. You are afraid of being selfish or think selflessness is a virtue
You think asking for what you want makes you look selfish and people hate you for it. These people – the nice girls and nice guys – think, by appearing to be selfless they will eventually get what they want. If you are truly selfless there won’t be a question of ‘should I be more selfish?’ ‘He’s stupid, he does not seem to get what I want’ etc. I am using ‘he’ here because it is more prevalent among women. Nice guys have the same problem, they tend to trade in favors in exchange for attention, emotional and sexual.
Giving to get is not being selfless. Instead, ask for what you want, being selfish, and you will soon find that all the resentments start to go down, your partner starts to give you what you want if they want to do so. At least give them the opportunity to decide whether to give you what you want or not, instead of covertly suggesting, nudging their behaviors and so on, and when “they don’t seem to get it”, you continuously fail to satisfy your needs, you get passive aggressive and start punishing your them.
If you think selflessness is a virtue you are doing it wrong and that is an easy way to build resentment towards your partner. If your partner says no, then you can start to negotiate. All of this will not be possible if you keep on giving in order to get. A better policy will be ‘give and take’ not ‘give to get’. Be selfish, only that let your partner know about your selfish desires. You may find out there are more willing people than you think who wants to fulfill your selfish desires.
14. You are in competition with your partner
If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to your partner in terms of money, power, status, success and so on, you are not in a love relationship. You are in competition. Good relationships are horizontal in nature and there is hardly any feelings of superiority or inferiority. But it is not your fault, we are all conditioned by our upbringing to be the best and this is understandable. But if kept unchecked, it can ruin your relationships.
Relationships must be a team effort and complementary and not a competition with each other.
But I get it, we are all human, there is bound to be some sense of superiority to the other. It is not love when that happens though, it is only a sense of possession or belonging to. A good understanding of how we operate can keep this superiority in check.
15. You lie to ‘protect other’s feelings’ or you are being ‘compassionate’
If you find yourself not totally disclosing of certain truths, or selectively telling facts or you lie to protect someone’s feelings because you think you are being kind to them, the so-called white lies, then you have a problem. The truth is, you are trying to protect your own feelings, in case your partner gets upset on hearing what you have to say, whatever you are reluctant to be truthful about.
You are robbing your partner of the opportunity to make their decision with all the information they can have to make a decision where withholding information that would affect their decision. There is nothing kind or compassionate about that. That is being selfish.
The only exception would be, in my view, to lie when the Nazis are the friend door asking for your Jew friends where telling the truth will lead to your friend’s death. Short of that, honesty trumps in any situation.
If you think your partner is ugly tell them that you think that, it is not harsh, you are giving them the opportunity to leave you and find someone else who might appreciate them. You are not saying they are ugly (but you are saying that is what you think about him) A comment like that is anyway superficial. In reality, attractiveness plays a role in relationships. Don’t get me wrong, such kind of attraction has nothing to do with love or respect towards the other, it is superficial, but it is the truth. Don’t hold back in showing your superficiality. Why trick anyone into thinking you like someone else that you are by withholding the truth.
16. You agree with your partner at your expense
It is okay to disagree with your partner. It is not the general ‘agree to disagree’ bullshit. You don’t agree, period! And, that is okay. And that’s that, there is nothing more to it. There is no need to impose your will on the other or to accept someone else’s will on you. And anyone sensible will not force you to do anything.
If you think you agree to your partners’ opinions to almost everything, from simple things such as where to have dinner, or what to do on the weekend that is a sign that you are not being assertive about what you want. Such agreeing behaviors does not warrant any respect from your partner. Instead, that breeds disrespect towards you. It is essentially training your partner to not to give importance to your opinions since you don’t seem to have any opinions yourself. Respect towards you diminishes. I am not saying respect is what you have to work towards, respectability is its own demon, I won’t go into that now, I am saying have a sense of what you like and dislike and have your own opinions and views about matters in your relationship.
Don’t start going to the romcoms because your partner likes it, don’t go watch football with your partner if you hate it. The right thing would be, to be honest about your dislikes and likes and if your partner has half a brain, he/she would understand.
17. You think the other is jealous so they must love you
If you act in ways to invoke jealousy in your partner, you are doing it wrong. If you feel jealous towards someone or because your partner is giving them attention, that is not love either. Are you envious of your partner? If it is that is mere competition. Is your partner acting in ways to invoke jealousy in you? That is the same thing. Relationships are about communication, it is important to call out these behaviors and let them know, and see what happens. If you are jealous it is your responsibility, because that arises out of your own insecurity, inferiority, keep it in check and deal with it. Don’t take it out on your partners and don’t allow them to take out their jealousy on you.
18. You have roles in your relationships
You say it is a man’s job to take out the trash in the relationship, the man says it is the woman’s job to cook. Such roles are traditional and not very suited to modern life. I suspect it might be because the men used to be the main breadwinners and women used to stay back at home, so such roles made sense back then, well at least part of it.
Such kind of roles if you have in mind, makes you entitled to certain services from your partner. Men should pay for dates etc.
Such kind of entitlement only makes you the brat in the relationship and not a lot of people have tolerance for that.
19. There is no soulmate or the perfect one
This is insidious in my view. Looking for the perfect one, you jump from one person to another. Ask yourself when you do that, are you jumping from one person to another because of their utility? because you seem incompatible in certain views? If you are carrying around the myth and ideal of the soulmate and the ideal one, you will search for a long time. Instead learn to appreciate what is in front of you, what is there and learn to connect with people first. Know that people disagree in views etc, and there will be disagreements. Not having any arguments with your partner is not a sign of a good relationship either – which normally people think of as a soulmate, everything is in perfect harmony, where one anticipates what one wants and so on. Relationships don’t work that way. Arguments and disagreements are part of it, they are rocky, navigating it is the real challenge, well, not a real challenge if you are honest it is rather quite simple. But the fact is relationships have fights in them, you argue, they are awkward, uncomfortable at times, but you figure things out. Keep in mind though, these figuring things out are not compromises to boost each other’s ego. You apologize because you don’t want to upset, you tolerate because you want to give the other is a control freak and you are afraid of being lonely and so on. The negotiations need to be healthy. Use your common sense.
20. You take your physical appearance for granted
People put a lot of effort, in the beginning of a relationship, in their physical appearance but become lazy afterward. Now that they have the security of a relationship and perhaps a steady flow of sex from their partner, they become complacent in looking after their health, get fat and their attractiveness degrades. Your body degrades as you age that is a fact. So greater care is needed for your health. It will help you feel better yourself and the relationship will feel better too. Sex is a vital part of any relationship, and don’t think that you get away with being unreasonably fat. This is true for men and women. Physical attractiveness obviously plays a role in sexual arousal.
21. You are looking for excitement rather than a partnership
In the start of a relationship, there is a lot of excitement. The oxytocin is flowing, there is a lot of romance, sex and you have all the good vibes. Don’t mistake that for anything else than what it is, pleasure! The sensations that come with the phase are addictive, and one gets attached to that pleasure. But that is not the real relationship. Having known such a pleasure in the relationship, achieved through your various romantic adventures, you try to repeat it again and again in your relationship later, failing miserably. In fact, such pleasure if done again and again is exhausting. Even constant sex is exhausting after a point.
Excitement can also be through sudden emotional fluctuations, unpredictable behavior from your partner etc. That can be a recipe for disaster especially if your partner is abusive, verbally or physically, but it does not matter because you get hooked to the highs and lows. I don’t know much of how chemicals work in the brain, I suspect it is the addiction to the neurotransmitters.
Another form is, you are constantly looking for dates, surprises, holidays etc but your partner does not seem to come around to do it. And you get angry. I am not saying you should totally give up any such kind of excitement, I am saying there is much more real fulfillment beyond excitement when you are in touch with the actualities and connect with the person even without the fantasies, there is more intimacy, more realness, and more rawness if that makes any sense. I don’t know if I can put it any other way. It is simply you are there with that person.
22. Not knowing the difference between pleasure and intimacy.
Intimacy arises from being honest to each other. I won’t say ‘vulnerability’. It is such an overused term much like ‘love’. If you are able to expose yourself, in terms of your opinions, thinking, and feelings, even if it risks the relationship, I assure you, you will have the right relationships with the right kind people. Honesty breeds trust. You know that your partner is with you because he/she chose it. And them and you being honest, you are at ease to speak your mind, ask what you want which brings you closer and intimate. You know each other’s likes and dislikes, how to communicate with each other and so on.
I don’t think relationships are complicated, it gets complicated because of our conditioning, the things that we know, we have been taught and have been collecting evidence for through your experience. If you believe something is true you are bound to collect evidence for it. Relationships only have any meaning if you are aware of what is going on within you, knowing how you work – intimacy with the self if you will. From that position, you can just be honest with your partner, it is as simple as that.
There is no formula that works for all relationships, or even within the span of a single relationship. How to respond, act in a relationship only comes through you figuring it out, I can’t tell you, through honest communication and working towards a partnership.
If there is any one formula that I can give you, it is attention. It is a lot to go into detail here, but I will say this, if you know the nature of the mind, and see that you have the same flaws and nature as other people, it is easier to love them.