The Biggest Mistake People Make in Love Relationships

What is a love relationship? Any relationship with love or strong feelings of caring for another. The mistakes we make run the gamut of all our relationships, whether with a friend, lover, parent, sibling, co-worker, etc. While the focus of this article is on love (romantic love) relationships, the ideas can be applied to any relationship. There is a vast amount of research as to why some relationships last and others fail. There is a common thread running through the research, which shows up over and over as the BIGGEST mistake people make in love relationships.

The Biggest Mistake People Make: They don't say who they are and what they want .

This mistake is usually made right from the start of a new relationship, during the "courting period" or what is commonly called "The Honeymoon Phase." We tend to hide who we really are in the beginning for fear our mate won't like us if he/she really knows who we are. FEAR is the number one reason people are not themselves. The first thing we need to do is put fear aside and determine that our integrity (our true person) is more important than whether or not people like/love us. Sure, some people may not like who we really are. But it's much better to find this out earlier rather than later!

People put their best foot forward in the beginning of their relationships, but within a few months, they start to show who they really are. This next phase is commonly called "The Disillusionment Phase." If you don't show your true colors in the beginning, your mate will eventually see them, and become disappointed and/or disillusioned.

The first six months of a relationship is when people lay their foundation. Just like the foundation of a home, it needs to be strong and sturdy. The strongest, sturdiest foundations are formed out of honesty and integrity. Next you will build your walls, and the strongest walls are formed out of love, caring and mutual respect.

In the beginning, women tend to be caretakers and are more concerned with other people's feelings than their own. They often say "yes" when they really want to say "no." They over-accommodate. They give in, give up, and burn out. They keep secrets. This is called co-dependency and it stems from low self-esteem and insecurity. On the other hand, in the beginning, men tend to be very attentive, affectionate and generous - traits they may give up once they are in the comfort of a committed relationship.

There are four good reasons to be who you are in relationships. The first reason is that you want to prevent a painful breakup or divorce down the road. The number one cause of divorce is not money issues, not in-laws, not infidelity, not religious differences, in fact, not differences of any kind. The number one cause of divorce is dishonest communication. All your other issues can be resolved if you can communicate honestly and effectively. The five most important components of good communication are - 1) Staying calm and objective, 2) Listen and understand, 3) Be honest about who you are and what you want, 4) Compromise, and 5) Make and keep agreements.

The second reason it is important for you to be clear and honest about who you are and what you want is that it gives both of you an opportunity to assess whether or not you are going to be a good match. It's not fair to your mate for you to be something different in the beginning than who you are going to be down the road.

The third reason is that you will be treated with respect. You need to know what you want and ask for what you want. If your mate does something disrespectful, such as lying to you, breaking dates, being chronically late, flirting with other people, etc., you MUST confront it immediately. Whatever you're willing to tolerate in life is exactly what you will get. This is true for all relationships, whether it's a love relationship, family, friends or work.

The fourth reason you should be and say who you are is that you will be happier and have more peace of mind. Being real gives you freedom. It may cause discomfort in the beginning when you tell someone who you really are and what you really want, but in the long run, your life and relationships will feel better to you. If your relationships are not what you want them to be right now, make a commitment to yourself to be real. Start speaking up and say who you are and what you really want. Say it in the most tactful and kind way you can. You may be surprised by the reaction you get!

Resources

Beattie, M. 1992. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself . Hazelden.

Bernstein, J. & Magee, S. 2003. Why Can't You Read My Mind? Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get in the Way of a Loving Relationship . Da Capo Press.

Chapman, G. 1995. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Communication to Your Mate . Northfield Publishing.

Clark Warren, N. and Abraham, K. 2005. Falling in Love for All the Right Reasons: How to Find Your Soul Mate . Center Street.

Gottman, J. 1995. Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last. Fireside.

Gottman, J. 2001. The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendships . Three Rivers Press.

Norwood, R. 1985. Women Who Love Too Much. Pocket Books

Schlessinger, L. 2007. The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage. Harper Collins.