Anyone who has been in a relationship has probably done this at one time or another – trying to change your partner thinking that this is the solution to all your problems. This is one of the four mistakes to avoid in your relationship that are guaranteed to lead to increased friction and conflict. Find out what the other three fatal mistakes are, and what you should be doing instead for a more fulfilling and healthy relationship.
4 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Relationship
Relationships can be complex and challenging, but they are also incredibly rewarding when nurtured and understood. Dr. David Hawkins, a clinical psychologist and director of the Marriage Recovery Center, shares valuable insights into the world of relationships.
In this article, we will delve into the four fatal mistakes to avoid in your relationship as outlined by Dr. Richard Schwartz, the founder of Internal Family Systems Therapy. These mistakes are common pitfalls in many relationships, and recognizing and avoiding them can be a pivotal step toward healthier and more fulfilling connections.
Fatal Mistake 1: Trying to Change Your Partner
One of the most common errors people make in relationships is attempting to change their partners. While it’s natural to want your partner to meet your needs and expectations, it’s important to remember that you can’t force anyone to change. Dr. Hawkins emphasizes that this is a mistake rooted in the belief that your partner can save, redeem, or heal you. Often, this perspective is unrealistic, as your partner has their own life, thoughts, and challenges.
It’s crucial to set boundaries and communicate your needs in a relationship, but trying to change your partner is counterproductive. This approach can push your partner further away and lead to resentment and frustration. Instead, focus on working on yourself and addressing your own needs, which we will explore further.
Fatal Mistake 2: Trying to Change Yourself to Change Your Partner
Another common misstep is changing yourself in an attempt to change your partner. This mistake occurs when individuals bend over backward, making accommodations and adaptations to try to make their partner change. Unfortunately, this rarely works because your partner’s change must come from within them.
Changing yourself to please your partner often leads to a loss of your own identity and can be detrimental to your self-esteem. In essence, it’s an exercise in futility, as changing yourself doesn’t guarantee your partner will change. Instead, Dr. Hawkins emphasizes that true change in a relationship begins with healing yourself.
What Works: Healing Yourself
To foster a healthy and flourishing relationship, Dr. Hawkins encourages individuals to focus on healing themselves. When you work on becoming a more centered and grounded person, this positive change can become contagious in your relationship. It’s not about trying to transform your partner or yourself but about addressing your inner wounds.
The more you invest in self-healing, the more likely you are to bring balance and emotional stability to your relationship. This approach creates an environment where both partners can grow and evolve together.
Fatal Mistake 3: Seeking the Perfect Partner
One of the most common relationship misconceptions is the belief in a perfect partner. People often believe that there is someone out there who will meet all their needs, be more sensitive, and be the ideal partner. Dr. Hawkins labels this “magical thinking,” where individuals leave a current relationship in search of someone who will fulfill all their desires.
However, the harsh truth is that there is no perfect person out there. Every individual has their strengths and weaknesses, and no one can meet all your needs. The pursuit of a perfect partner can lead to a series of broken relationships and disappointments.
Fatal Mistake 4: Abandoning Efforts to Improve the Relationship
When faced with relationship challenges, many individuals resort to self-destructive behaviors as a coping mechanism. They may turn to drugs, alcohol, excessive work, excessive eating, or other distractions to numb the pain or discomfort they feel. However, these behaviors only provide temporary relief and do not address the root issues in the relationship.
Rather than abandoning your efforts to improve the relationship, it’s essential to face the issues head-on and actively work towards resolving them. Finding healthier ways to cope with the challenges is crucial for the longevity and success of the relationship.
What to Do Instead: Be Self-Led
To avoid these fatal mistakes in your relationship, it’s vital to be self-led. Being self-led means having a strong sense of self, which doesn’t equate to being selfish. Instead, it means being in touch with your core self, where you are clear, compassionate, and not easily triggered. This state of being allows you to make better decisions, both in terms of staying or leaving a relationship.
Recognizing that you are your primary caretaker and your partner is your secondary protector is a crucial distinction. By becoming your primary source of self-care, you can release the unrealistic expectation that your partner will fix you. This shift enables a balanced and emotionally sober space for healthier decision-making.
In addition to being self-led, faith-based individuals can find support and healing through their belief systems, allowing them to mend their inner wounds in conjunction with divine guidance.
In conclusion, relationships can be intricate, but avoiding these four fatal mistakes can lead to healthier and more fulfilling connections. Instead of trying to change your partner or yourself, focus on healing and becoming a more centered and grounded individual. Release the notion of a perfect partner, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and stay committed to improving the relationship through healthy means.
By adopting a self-led approach and understanding that you are your primary caretaker, you can transform your relationships into sources of growth and fulfillment, regardless of their challenges. Remember, it is possible to navigate the complexities of relationships with grace and resilience.
Also read: How to Recover from Emotional Abuse Trauma
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.