5 Things We Should Stop Doing in Relationships
Healthy relationships are major components of healthy lives. Some psychological scientists dedicate their entire careers towards understanding what makes a relationship good and what things people should avoid. Here are five scientifically backed tips for things we should avoid in our relationships.
1- Stop keeping score – It’s easy to get hung-up on keeping score, but according to research by psychologists van Oyen Witvliet, Ludwig, and Vander Laan (2001) that’s unhealthy for you and your relationship. We all do it from time to time, start counting the number of times a partner does a pet peeve. There comes a point in every relationship where it’s important to let go of counting the give-and-take. Take the long view on the relationship. If it looks like things will even out in the long run, then let the little stuff go.
2- Stop worrying about “should” – Research shows that we all grow up with different expectations about relationships (Cavanagh, 2007). From fairy-tale romance stories to the families who modeled relationships around us, there is no one-size-fits-all. Do your best to let go of outside opinions and communicate all expectations (especially the ones that seem obvious to you) about the relationship. Focus on what works for you and your relationship.
3- Stop trying to fix everything – sometimes your partner just needs someone to listen to them. Unless they actually say the words “I need advice,” they’re probably just trying to share themselves with you. When a person shares their feelings, they are trusting you to listen to them, and as researchers Sprecher and Hendrick (2004) discuss in their work, that sort of self-disclosure is vital to good outcomes in relationships.
4- Stop waiting – Relationship feeling flat? Stop waiting for your partner to be the one to initiate. Things either of you do for the relationship benefit both of you, so stop waiting for your partner to sweep you off your feet. Give your relationship maintenance the same way you take care of other parts of your life (Harvey & Wenzel, 2001).
5- Stop being distracted – Sometimes your partner must be the most important thing happening in the room. Don’t let your schedule get overwhelming or get distracted by your thoughts when you’re together. Psychologists Barnes, et al. (2007) will tell you, sometimes just being together in the same room isn’t enough, and you need to focus your whole mind on the present.