In learning to love, and learning about love, most of us go through a series of disastrous relationships – sometimes the fallout can be blamed on our chosen partner, but most often, everyone in the relationship is equally complicit. However, it sometimes takes a long time for people to learn how their own mistakes affected their failed relationships, simply because many of us blame the other party as being fully guilty, and never look at it beyond that.
I’ll admit that in the past, I have not exactly dated stellar material, but that doesn’t change that the biggest mistakes I made were never choosing a bad partner, but actually how I reacted IN the relationship itself.
Mistake Number One – Don’t Try To Fix What Isn’t Broken – OR – Love the One You’re With.
If you’re dating someone because of the potential you see in them, you’re not actually dating THEM… you’re dating some illusory dream of who they COULD be, if only they TRIED, if only they would listen to you, if only they believed in this imaginary dream of themselves as much as you do, and would WORK at it.
If you’re dating someone in trying to rescue them from their past mistakes, or their present ones, you might consider that those “mistakes,” those choices and their consequences and the learning experiences that helped them to grow on their path to this point – led them directly to you. In other words, if they had changed one single thing, it’s possible they’d never have met you, or if they had, neither of you would have been interested, and this relationship wouldn’t exist.
If you’re trying to save someone from themselves, that means you don’t fully appreciate who they are now, or all the hard work it took for them to get to you. You don’t love them, you love who you want them to be. Either you appreciate someone because of who they are, and that’s why you’re with them, or you believe the dream, and dreams belong in another world – they seldom happen in this one… dating a dream will never live up to reality – eventually you’ll resent them or even hate them for not becoming that perfect vision you have of them.
Mistake Number Two – Don’t Try To Be Someone You’re Not
We’ve all done it – tried to figure out why someone loves us, tried to figure out what they need, WHO they need (because it surely isn’t us – they must be insane to want US!), tried to understand exactly what their version of a perfect partner is, and become it, instead of being ourselves.
The truth is, if they’re with you, hopefully, they’re with you because they love who you are, not some idealized version of you, and not some perfect dream that you could never become. If someone chooses to be with you and you try to become something you’re not to please them, you end up being resentful of all their supposed demands, you feel suppressed because you can’t be yourself in the relationship, and they end up confused because they don’t know who you are anymore… and many times, since it was actually YOU they got involved with, and you aren’t you anymore, they leave. It’s really just best from the very start to be yourself – that way, you’re happy, and they know what they’re getting up front, so they’re more likely to be happy, too.
Both these classic mistakes are based on acceptance issues… the first one is the inability to accept another person for who and what they are, and where they’re at in their life – which is obviously not about love. If you want to change someone you’re with, you don’t really love THEM, just your version of them, which is never fair to anyone because most likely, that version only exists in your mind, and quite probably, if they wanted to change into that person, they’d have done it before they met you, and certainly they’d have done it for themselves, without your help. People never change for other people – they only change when they’re ready to do so, and because they want to. In other words… mostly they don’t… so it’s best to love the one you’re with.
The second issue is self-acceptance. The idea that no one could accept you for all you are, warts and pluses – or the idea that you don’t HAVE any pluses – is a personal insecurity, and needs to be rooted out before any relationship will succeed. If you don’t believe anyone could appreciate you, you’ll find a way to make them prove you right, eventually, and that’s just not a healthy outlook on life. Obviously if they’re with you, they DO see something in you that they like – and whether the relationship lasts or not, that should be encouraging to you. If you haven’t figured out what others see in you, you probably should stop dating for awhile and go find yourself – because only when you truly love you, believe yourself worthy, will you be able to accept the love of someone else as being real and possible. Until then, you’ll be so damned afraid of rejection and disapproval, you’ll try to be anyone but yourself – and you’ll never trust anyone you’re with as long as you do that, because you’ll know, deep down, that they’re not really with YOU… and in the end, it won’t matter to you that that’s your fault… them leaving will just confirm your beliefs about your own unworthiness… it’s a vicious cycle.
Thankfully, I finally grew out of either form of foolishness… When I met my husband, I loved him for who he was, and never even considered who he COULD be… and I didn’t try to be anything I’m not. We have been together for five years, and married for over two, and while there are things he does that bother me, and there are things I do that bother him, while we talk it out with each other, we generally don’t change much – because we’re comfortable with each other and ourselves, just the way we are. I’ve never been happier in a relationship, or felt safer and more appreciated – and he’s never felt more accepted… and that’s the way we like it.
Here’s to your relationship health. 😀
So… out of curiosity… what are some of your own relationship mistakes?