Having coached many women over the years, offered a shoulder for many a heartbroken friend and have been in several relationships myself, I’ve come to realise how so many of us stay in relationships that are just subpar and how a number of couples are just not a good fit for each other.
Also, many people do not like to admit this or realise this, but lots of people just don’t make great partners and are not motivated to be better people for their partners and relationships.
You’ve got to have good character and a good set of values before embarking on any relationship. But lots of people, particularly in our society these days just simply don’t feel motivated to work on themselves. So put two people together with all their warts and flaws and it can make for a relatively unpleasant dynamic.
People also get into and stay in relationships for all sorts of reasons other than just falling in love with a good person. Biological clock, lower taxes, loneliness, cause-my-parents/society-said-so, cause-everyone-else-and-me-is-taken, codependency and any number other reasons than just wanting to spend forever growing with a good partner.
Lots of people use their relationship as a replacement for or compensation for other feelings – of lack/insecurity, loneliness/company, feeling accepted and belonged, not feeling empty; revolving the
Another point is, many of us have no clue what a good relationship looks like. We were never taught that in school or anywhere. We may have had poor relationship models growing up who modelled the wrong sort of behaviours to us.
In a nutshell, there are so many barriers to a healthy relationship! Which is why relationships can be hard to maintain, not impossible but hard. And it takes effort on both sides.
Here is a list of the key qualities to pay attention to when considering someone for a serious relationship.
Also, alot of my examples will be from the perspective of a woman dating a man because that’s the majority of my client makeup.
#1 Superficial communication
Having spoken to/coached many people about their relationship issues, it always surprises me how
- Many of us can miss out what a person is actually telling you about themselves/their inner thoughts and
- How superficial alot of conversations between couples are.
Really hear what they are telling you
For example, I’ve come across so many people whose dates have told them stuff like – “I’m not a good person/guy”, “I have no money.”, “My dates always end up ghosting me”, “I’m confused about my sexuality”, “I don’t know what to do with my life”, “I don’t want kids or marriage”, “I don’t want a relationship now”….
They hear all these and their spidey senses go – ooh red/amber flags! Misaligned values! Abort! Yet, they still go ahead against their better judgment to have a relationship with someone who isn’t compatible.
If you are thinking people will change, yes they can and do. Usually only if they themselves are willing to. Humans find it hard to change in general.
Also harsh truth: you cannot make someone change or change them. You are not some special snowflake.
Not asking for more or being curious about what your partner is saying
Many people also do not have in-depth conversations where they actively listen and ask one another questions. Like if your date/partner/spouse expresses dislike or disinterest in something, dig deeper, explore why, talk about it. Ask questions, listen attentively.
Countless people just accept whatever is said at face value and stop there. It’s not possible to know someone well enough if you are not going to be curious and dig deeper.
Many people also have a fear of asking their own partner questions because of the fear of what they might hear. You will see this on various online forums sometimes, “Why is my partner doing this…”. Well, a bunch of strangers wouldn’t have the answer!
A fear of communicating usually points to an underlying issue
If you are avoiding talking to your partner or you have underlying fear when communicating with them, there is something not quite right there, and this needs further examining. You may be picking up on your partner’s dislike or inability to communicate (a sign of emotional unavailability and poor emotional expression) or your gut may be picking up on something that you do not want to hear about.
Get honest about it with yourself.
Communication patterns get set up early in the relationship/on dates. If a person is unable to even discuss things openly with you for whatever reason, the relationship is going to run into serious trouble later on.
Which plays into point #2 below.
#2 Not being honest to yourself and to your partner
Having dated quite alot in between relationships and hearing others’ experiences, I’m just quite sad and appalled at the level of dishonesty present in many relationships, even long-term ones.
Giving off false impressions..
People are so hell-bent on giving off a certain impression on dates, which runs completely contrary to being authentic and being yourself.
Why would you want to be with someone who likes you for a false impression you are putting on instead of liking you for the real you?
Very quickly, the mask/impression is going to fall off, and the real you is going to emerge, then what? Most of us are unable to keep up a lie/false pretenses for too long.
Online dating just makes everything 1000x worse because it’s far easier to pretend to be somebody else online and you are unable to truly verify the identity of the people you swipe right on.
Acting like everything is okay
And then there’s the acting like you are into your partner when you are not, acting like you are okay with the person you are with when you are not, acting like you can live with this person forever when you are on-the-fence about them.
If people actually were honest about themselves to themselves and to the people we are dating, there will be alot more happy people amongst us – both singles and coupled up.
There will also be a lot less cheating. When we are not honest with ourselves about the reasons we enter relationships or how we truly feel about our partners, things like trust, respect, integrity can fall apart very easily.
Following what everyone does and being dishonest to yourself at the same time
Entering relationships just to be in one, to fit some conventional “mould” that society tells you should or just to ward off loneliness is not a path to long-term happiness, just remember that.
Be honest about what you want first. Then when you are able to find a partner that aligns with your values, can you then start discerning and being honest about whether they are a good fit for you or not.
Also, ghosting is incredibly awful but there is no need to be nice and just go out with someone because you “feel bad”. If it’s not working out, just let them know gently and move on from the experience.
- Are you in a relationship where you feel you are left wondering whether your partner likes you or not?
- Are you confused at his/her behaviour – they are affectionate one day and very cold the next?
- Or you left constantly having to “chase after” your partner to find out what they are thinking or feeling?
Consistency is a sign of security, emotional/psychological safety and availability.
A partner who truly cares about your feelings and the relationship you have, will want to ensure that you are feeling these things most of the time in a relationship with them.
They won’t want to leave you in the dark, all lost and confused wondering where you stand with them. A person who wants you in their life will let you know, why? They don’t want to lose you.
A consistent person is also honest and communicative, qualities that you want to look out for. Inconsistent people are at the least not great at expressing themselves/fearful of how they come across (can be overcome with a bit of work) and at worst are not emotionally available and don’t make great partners.
Which is why whenever I see questions like – does he like me, is he shy, why is he interested one day/not the next …the answers are usually pretty straightforward
- They are not as interested as you think they are
- The both of you aren’t communicating your feelings well (not a good sign if this persists) or can’t communicate your feelings because you haven’t formed a relationship yet
- They aren’t emotionally available – red flag
- They just like the attention and want nothing more (don’t waste your time and get your feelings hurt with these types)
- They like playing games (aka manipulative) and get off on your reactions. the more sinister version of #4 – yes I’ve met such people, they do exist and it’s a MAJOR red flag, stay away.
Consistency is important to building and deepening intimacy. You need someone that you just know will be there for you – emotionally, psychologically, physically. Someone who also assures you that they are there for you through their actions and words. A good person who cares for you will want you to feel safe and secure when you are with them; not blow hot and cold and can’t decide how they want to act.
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