A Psychologist’s List of the 6 Most Common Mistakes We Make in Relationships

And how to avoid them so yours will succeed

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Photo by Artur Tumasjan on Unsplash

1. Give yourself time to become someone you like

It’s common among friends, particularly men: Someone suggests a get-together. Something “active.” A hiking trip, perhaps, or a cycling tour. No one has done any exercise for months, but somehow, you end up on an excursion roughly equivalent to an Ironman triathlon — and spend the next three days on the couch, waiting for your butt to stop hurting.

2. Allow your relationship to reach a point of conflict

Sticking with the hiking metaphor, when you walk alone in the woods, a narrow path will suffice. If you walk next to your partner, however, the two of you will need a wider track. To stay together, you must find a new way — a way neither of you might have chosen on your own.

3. Understand that you can’t change other people

One reason your relationship will naturally reach a point of conflict is that — duh — you’re two different people! Eventually, you’ll disagree on something, and that segues right into Margie’s next lesson:

4. Accept that romantic love is conditional

Just because you shouldn’t expect people to change does not mean you need to accept everything they do. This sounds like a contradiction, but actually, it’s a balance. Maintaining this balance is why, sometimes, the only way to advance a relationship is to end it.

5. Anything is okay — as long as you can talk about it

Margie’s hero is Mr. Rogers, who, for over 30 years, taught children about feelings, rationality, and relationships through his TV show. Her favorite quotes of his is that, “if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.” In other words:

6. Let go of any issue that’s less important than the relationship itself

Returning to the woods one last time, Andy explains how to avoid small spats:

All You Need to Know

With her charming soberness, Margie ends the conversation: “Wasn’t the best learning you ever had all the stuff that was miserable?”

  • Allow your relationship to face conflict
  • Understand you can’t change other people
  • Accept that romantic love is conditional
  • Talk about anything
  • Let go of everything less important than the relationship itself

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