It’s always OK to make mistakes in your relationship, as long as you and your partner are willing to work together to overcome them. But if the same issues keep cropping up time and time again, it can start to take a toll. It may even lead to a breakup, if the same issues keep occurring, due to a build up of anger — and the resulting resentment.
“Over time, little mistakes can [even] turn into habits that threaten the health of [your] relationship,” Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. “Most relationships end because of little problems that balloon over time.” If you aren’t patching up problems as they arise, or looking for solutions, small mistakes can turn into big problems.
There is good news, though. “If you can fix the little mistakes in your relationship quickly,” Bennett says, “you’ll have a happier and healthier relationship in the long-term.” You can also acknowledge that things have been tough, and figure out ways to break an unhealthy cycle. And that’ll require lots of communication, as a couple. With that in mind, here are some mistakes you should avoid repeating, as well as what to do instead, according to experts.
1. Letting The Relationship Get Stale
Once the honeymoon stage of the relationship ends, and you’re no longer going on dates 24/7, don’t make the mistake of falling into a rut.
“The benefits of a healthy relationships are a direct result of the work that is put [into it],” Michelle Fraley, MA, WPCC, certified life coach and relationship expert, tells Bustle. “If we want a strong emotional and physical connection with our partner, we must be willing to put in the time and effort to make that happen.”
This might include planning weekly date nights, catching up after a busy day, or showing more physical affection, Fraley says. Without these things, a relationship will start to grow stale or feel unimportant. And that’s when it can fall apart.
2. Criticizing Each Other
It’s easy to zero in on a partner’s flaws and allow frustrations to build up. But the last thing you want to do is criticize each other.
“We will not always be happy with everything that our partner says or does,” Fraley says. “[But] in these instances, it is important that when we express our frustrations or concerns, we do it in a way that focuses on our partner’s specific behavior, not their character.”
If you start making personal attacks, things can get quickly turn toxic — and it may even lead to a breakup. “Open and honest communication is important,” Fraley says, “just make sure it is done in a constructive rather than destructive [way].”
3. Forgetting Who You Are
“While it’s important to work on your relationship it’s also vital that you work on yourself, too,” Bennett says. “Spend time on self-improvement and self-care to be the best for yourself and your partner.”
This might include focusing on solo hobbies, spending some time alone, or even going to therapy. “If you both are happy and healthy as individuals,” he says, “it will strengthen your relationship with each other.”
4. Failing To Resolve Small Conflicts
If the notice that the small problem keeps cropping up, find time to talk about them ASAP. Because usually, this means something more is going on, which may have the potential to tear you apart.
“Fighting is inevitable in any relationship,” Bennett says. “But many couples never deal with the issues behind the fighting. This can lead to papering over real problems that can emerge later. And, at that point, they can threaten the future of the relationship.”
5. Letting Little Irritations Fester
Similarly, if you’ve been irritated lately, don’t make the mistake of keeping it to yourself. After all, “if your partner is bothering you and they don’t know, they cannot fix the situation,” Jeannie Assimos, chief of advice at eharmony, tells Bustle. And when they can’t fix the situation, your resentment will build.
So go ahead and speak up. “Open communication is key to any relationship because of exactly this idea,” Assimos says. “If you do not openly discuss your issues with each other, they will turn into problems.”
6. Taking Each Other For Granted
When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s common for partner’s to take each other for granted. But this is a habit you’ll want to avoid if you’d like things to continue in a healthy direction.
“Relationships are about a certain comfort level but recognition is always important,” Justin Lavelle, relationship expert and chief communications officer for BeenVerified, tells Bustle. “Be sure to tell [your partner] how important they are and recognize the things they do for you.”
7. Trying To Keep The Peace At All Costs
While it might seem like a good idea to avoid arguing, this can actually lead to pent up anger, misunderstandings, and even a lack of trust — all of which can undermine your relationship.
“Not arguing seems like a good idea on the surface but it destroys the intimate bond between the two of you,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle.
It may be nerve-racking to disagree or argue, but you can totally do so in a healthy way where you both stay calm, air your grievances, and find solutions to your problems together.
8. Never Talking About Money
While it can be uncomfortable, “if the topic [of money] isn’t discussed openly, then you risk one of the partners being in the dark about the couple’s finances,” Lavelle says. So don’t keep making this mistake, especially since arguments about money are one of the top reasons why couples break up.
You’ll want to make a point of talking about finances on a regular basis, as this will “establish a pattern of equal partnership,” Lavelle says, so you can sort out problems and stay on the same page.
9. Making Decisions Without Talking First
While you don’t have to talk about everything, being in a relationship means keeping each other in the loop, and considering what you both want. “You both need to be on the same page so you can make any needed adjustments,” spiritual counselor and relationship expert Davida Rappaport, tells Bustle. So when it comes to making plans, try not to keep leaving each other in the dark.
10. Ignoring Each Other’s Needs
“Healthy communication around needs is vital for a relationship to thrive,” licensed clinical psychologist George A. Ball, PsyD, LP, tells Bustle. And yet, it’s so easy to accidentally ignore each other’s needs, or cross each other’s boundaries. By talking about it, though, you can prevent this mistake from creating unfixable problems in your relationship.
11. Betraying Each Other’s Trust
If you betray each other’s trust, the best thing to do is apologize, and then work on building it right back up again. But if you keep making the same mistake, it will be more and more difficult to recover.
As Dr. Klapow says, “Anything that calls into question trust or trustworthiness can erode the foundation of a relationship,” so you’ll want to avoid undermining it, whenever possible.
Of course, relationships are tough, and you won’t always be able to avoid making mistakes. But you can work together as a couple to keep them from turning into habits, so they don’t sabotage your connection or tear you apart.