1. Trying to follow your old “love script.”
In other words, comparing what you have to how you think love “should” go. Who should make more money, how you should meet, what they will look like. Your script was written by things you observed growing up, and is reinforced by both your fears and expectations that aren’t your own. You could have the most drop dead incredible partner in the world, but if you’re too stuck on the old, irrelevant script, you won’t even realize.
2. Rushing to milestones.
While you’re dating, date. When you’re engaged, be engaged. Stop and recognize that one season of your romantic life is not more important than another. What are you even running toward anyway? Death? Why are you rushing to every next step? So life can be over faster? Appreciate what you have while you have it. It goes quickly, anyway.
3. Going to to bed with your phones, not each other.
You don’t end up laying in bed next to each other scrolling because you lose interest in each other, you end up laying in bed scrolling because you’re lazy. It’s easy to want to do the thing that requires the least amount of conscious effort. Talk about your day over dinner. Light candles and change your sheets and seduce your partner like you’re still trying to convince them to be with you. Your inherent spark will light the fire, but kindling is what will keep it alive.
Literally everyone has problems. I know you understand the sentence “nobody is perfect,” but do you really get it when it comes to the fact that your person could have a dark past or health problems or debt or a bad habit? If you really want to have the relationship you think you do, you’re going to have to learn to show up for your person even when you don’t want to, even when you think they’ve made a dumb decision, even when you think they should know better. Help them be better, don’t write them off because they’re human. You’d want the same for yourself.
5. Wondering if you’re missing out on someone “better.”
Good relationships are something you build, not something you stumble upon. Compatibility is not an exact science. The grass is green where you water it. Thinking that you’re missing out on something is an escape mechanism, a way to avoid true intimacy, and it’s cowardly. Let it go. Work on what you have, and it will become what you want.
6. Fearing thunder when it’s not even raining.
In other words: trying to anticipate what could go wrong, and fix it before it does. Stop jumping ahead and freaking out about things that aren’t even happening. Maybe you will get divorced. Maybe someone will die young. Maybe you won’t be able to afford the things you want. Worrying about them now will not help you avoid them later.
7. Factoring self-love out of the equation.
If you want real love, you have to be willing to show your true self. What you’ll discover is that something insane happens when you do: if you’re with the right person, they love you so much more when you are being sincere, when you are being the very person you were convinced could never be seen and loved as they are. You’ll realize how much they want your body as it is, and want to spend every day with you as you are. No pretense required.
8. Caring more about how things look than how they feel.
If you go out together and the thing that makes you feel happiest about the time you spent together is the nice picture you got, you have a serious problem. You’re sourcing your happiness from what you think your relationship looks like, not how it actually feels.
9. Believing what you see online is reality.
What you’re seeing of other people’s relationships is just the highlight reel, and sure, that’s true of all social media, but never as much as when it comes to love. Most (sensible) people don’t air their dirty laundry out online, so when you’re scrolling and blindly believing what you see, it makes it seem like nobody is struggling and there’s something wrong with you.
10. Letting your past quietly govern your future.
Your partner is not your ex. They’re not your parent, either. Don’t make them pay for the sins of other people who have hurt you in the past.
11. Arguing about crap that doesn’t matter.
People say that you need to make sure to air your feelings and work things out when they arise, but this isn’t always true. You need to pick your battles. If you spend all of your time arguing over things that don’t matter, you’re going to fall apart. Not everything needs to be discussed. A lot of issues are simply a matter of taking a deep breath and getting the hell over it. Don’t be that person who nags their partner over objectively dumb, irrelevant crap. Save it for when it matters. Speaking of…
12. Never talking about the real issues.
You have real issues because everyone has real issues. Sit down and talk about them and work through them. They’re only scary because they’re in the dark right now, and the more you avoid them, the more your frustrating will come out through aforementioned “dumb crap” you can’t stop fighting about.
13. Not getting enough face time.
You should want to spend as much time with your partner as possible. If you do not want to be with them – like, actually physically be with them – for any stretch of time, you don’t desire them as much as you think you do. Make sure you’re spending more time with your person than you are talking about them, texting them, or thinking about them.
14. Disregarding feelings you don’t agree with.
Your partner’s feelings are valid even if you don’t agree with them, or don’t understand them, or are certain you’d react a different way. You have to learn to listen to feelings – and opinions – you don’t understand if you want this to work. It’s called having empathy.
15. Conflating the bad.
A weird thing about people is that we seek out the worst in people because we’re afraid of them. We want to know if they’re going to hurt us, and how. This happens most with romantic partners: you become so overly-critical because you want them to be perfect. You want them to be perfect because being “perfect” means they’ll never hurt you, you’ll always like them, and you’ll always be “happy.”
16. Complaining to other people more than you express your feelings to them directly.
It creates this unhealthy outlet where you get used to resolving problems outside of the relationship. Your person should be someone you vent to, not someone you vent about.
17. Mocking them, even “jokingly.”
There’s a fragment of truth in every “joke,” and when someone is opening up to you about who they really are, don’t make fun of them for their taste in music, or that they’ve never been to a concert. Be kind. It will go so much farther.
18. Demanding you get what you’re not giving.
You want more romance in your life? Then do something about it. You want to have a deeper connection with your person? Then do something about it. You want them to be sweeter to you? Be sweeter to them. You want them to treat you more? Treat them, too. When you’re not receiving, the answer is usually because you’re not actually giving.