People don’t realize how complicated a real relationship can be. People often think that they fall in love with somebody or they’re infatuated with somebody and the relationship will take care of itself. It’s not uncommon for people to confuse infatuation and initial feelings of attraction as being enough to build a relationship. This is because feeling great when you are around somebody, being super attracted to them and enjoying an intense physical relationship is hardly the foundation a REAL relationship.
How do you take your relationship to the next level? And, before we get ahead of ourselves, how do we even know for sure whether or not a relationship has the potential to be lasting? And, when we find a good relationship that we feel has potential, how do we identify what problems prevent a relationship from growing?
The first thing to realize is that real relationships between two real people are a journey that doesn’t always go forward. In fact, the average relationship often loops around. It’s kind of misguided to think that your relationship will can get better, and just “hope for the best”…
Here are some of the common reasons why many relationships simply hit a plateau and fail to grow beyond that point. If you want to develop a truly meaningful relationship, you need to make sure that your relationship is growing. As you get older as you mature, your expectations change. Unfortunately, many people find themselves in relationships that they have simply outgrown. Here are some common factors to lookout for if you want your relationship to truly mature:
Clash of Expectations
Almost all relationships start out pretty much the same way: You feel great about your partner or your partner feels great about you. There is a special chemistry when you’re around each other. It seems that you are in a special emotional place when you’re in each other’s company. You often wish that those moments would never end. As beautiful as those special moments may be, the reality is that when people enter into a personal relationship, they have expectations. They may not be very vocal about it at first. They might not be even aware of it, but people have expectations.
That’s what we are. We are creatures of expectations. We don’t go into most situations without an expectation or a picture in our mind of how things should be. One of the most common reasons why relationships never passed a certain stage is because the set of expectations you bring to the table and the set of expectations your partner brings to the table only match up to a certain point. Once you reach this certain point, once you learn enough about each other, either you don’t want to move forward or you just want to retain what you have.
This could be a serious problem. You might just be sweeping major issues under the rug. If you want your relationship to truly grow and mature and go on to the next level, you have to be very clear as to what your expectations are of each other. Expectations are very powerful because if people don’t have their expectations met, they become disappointed. When they’re disappointed, they become frustrated. There’s a snowball effect and it can really result in your relationship turning into an invisible prison for both of you.
Closely related to the clash of assumptions described above is the problem of different assumptions. People go into relationships assuming certain things about the other person. They often assume certain things about the relationship. One of the most obvious and common assumptions people make is that the other person wants to be in a relationship with you. This is a pretty fair assumption to make. After all, why would somebody devote his or her personal time to be with you if they don’t want to be in a relationship?
Well, you would be surprised as to how unclear many people are regarding what they want from a relationship. Some people just want some sort of lights, informal, often physical or sexual relationship. Others are kind of in transition in their lives and they’re looking at the relationship really more as some sort of emotional shelter or some sort of psychological halfway house till they can get their act together. It’s very important to be very clear as to what your assumptions are and most importantly, communicate those assumptions to the person that you’re in a relationship with. Otherwise, just like with clashing expectations, you might feel yourself constantly frustrated. You might feel constantly disappointed. All these issues can bubble up to the surface and might even explode and jeopardize your relationship.
Different Love Languages
There are four different love languages. These are the ways people express their affection to that special person in their life. The four love languages are: Affirmation, gift giving, acts of service and physical touch. The problem with failing to understand each other’s love language can be fatal to your relationship. For example: If you are a person who expresses affection by verbalizing encouragement, you also expect your partner to verbalize his or her emotional encouragement in term. Alternatively, if you are a person who likes to give small gifts, you also expect small gifts.
The problem with love language mismatch is when you keep speaking your particular love language and you never really feel that your affection is being returned in the way you want it. The problem is that you fail to see that your partner is giving you affection and expressing it in the way he or she prefers. It is not uncommon for people who prefer physical love languages to hug their partner and expect to be hugged and touched back, but only gets verbal affirmations. These results in both partners feeling frustrated and feeling like their significant other doesn’t really appreciate them. All these partners need to do is really pay attention to how their partners expresses their affection and mirror those signs and tokens of appreciation.
Competing Personalities versus Cooperating Personalities
As the old saying goes, opposites attract. You might be a shy person, but you might find yourself physically and emotionally drowned to somebody who is very outgoing and confrontational. There’s no explaining why certain personalities get together. That’s part of the beauty and the magic of human attraction and love. The problem is once you get passed that stage when you’re fascinated with each other and you might see yourself in a situation where you’re actually competing against each other in your relationship. You might try to feel the same roles.
This is a serious problem because everybody is different. Everybody has their strong suits and everybody has their weaknesses. If your relationship focuses too much on both of you stepping in each other’s toes trying to do the same things and competing with other, this can really wear your relationship down. This can produce a lot of tension that can result in your relationship falling apart. The reality is that you’re not enemies. You’re on the same team. It takes a little bit of maturity and clear-headed thinking to focus on what you’re strong in and let your partner focus on the things that you’re weak in. It doesn’t mean that you’re losing control. It doesn’t mean that you’re irresponsible. It doesn’t mean that you’re weak. All it means is that you’re being smart about your relationship and trying to put together a relationship that works. Relationship that works is a strong relationship because your partner is strong when you’re weak and you’re strong when your partner is weak.
Failure to Let Go Of The Past
Another key problem that really retards relationships is when one of the partners or both partners have issues with either past relationships or family issues. It’s not uncommon for people to have issues in the past with family members that they can’t seem to let go of. Similarly, they might have a past boyfriend or girlfriend that hurt them so much that they basically judge all future relationships based on the lens of that particular person that hurt them so much. This is a very unfair situation. When you get into a new relationship, you should judge that person and interact to that person based on that person’s qualities, based on what that person brings to the table.
It’s really unfair for you to hold up a mirror to that person based on the image of somebody from the past. It’s not uncommon for people to fail to live up to past relationships. Moreover, it’s really unfair to expect that they would have the same weaknesses and same problems as the person that hurt you from the past. If you look at your relationships this way, you are doomed to repeat that past bad relationship way into the future. Why? Your future relationships turn into your past relationship.
Failure to Forgive
Closely related to the very common problem of failure to let go of the past is the emotional trap of unforgiveness. Many people who are unable to forgive past hurts and past relationships think that they’re being strong. They think that they’re in control of the situation when they hold a grudge against somebody from the past. The reality is that they are slaves of their past pain. Every time they think about this person or this past incident, the pain becomes fresh again. They become victimized again.
As a result, their present relationships and the people that love them suffer because they constantly relive these hurtful things from the past and can’t seem to move on. A key measurement of a relationship that is worth having and a relationship that is maturing is when you or your partner learn to forgive whatever elements from the past that truly hold you back from taking your current relationship to the next level.
If you want your relationship to grow and to live up to its fullest potential, you have to be on the lookout for the common problems listed above. The great news about these problems is that people have overcome them in the past, people are overcoming them now and people will overcome them in the future. Just because these elements are present in your relationship, doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is doomed. It’s a good idea however to recognize these factors so you can clearly communicate with your partner that you need to resolve these issues. Once you’re on the same page, you increase your chances of your relationship truly becoming fulfilling, rewarding and enriching.