Mike Bundrant is co-founder of the iNLP Center, which offers training in Neuro-Linguistic Programming.
There’s nothing like the overwhelming attraction of a new romantic interest, is there?
Hormones take over and you’re swooped into a dream world filled with pleasure and hope. The stars are aligned, calling you to dare human nature and take the plunge into a lifelong commitment.
When you wake up a few months later, will you be happy with your choice? Chances are good that if you make the following mistakes, you’ll wake up into a new reality that punches you in the gut.
Romantic relationships are like fire. They can warm your world or they can burn it down.
When playing with fire, be sure to avoid the following:
1. Overlooking behavioral red flags, large and small.
This may be the most important principle when it comes to forming new relationships. Countless divorced and broken-hearted people tell themselves, “I should have known better….I did know better, but I did it anyway.
Don’t do it. If you’ve noticed red flags; a flash of anger at something small, a dismissive tendency, a lie, an irresponsible streak; the thing to do is confront it early on. Don’t pretend it’s not happening. Ask your partner what’s going on. Don’t take excuses. Give him or her a chance to explain and don’t accept lame explanations.
Small red flags are infamous for turning into giant failure banners over time. If you have a habit of ignoring red flags, you are just looking for trouble.
2. Commitment based on emotion only.
No romantic relationship is complete without passion. Feeling the deep joy of your beloved is the fuel that keeps things going. On its own, however, it is not enough. Running on emotion only is like driving a car without a steering wheel. You’ve got the engine revved up, but no way of getting where you want to go.
So much more goes into relationship compatibility! According to Jake and Hannah Eagle’s Dating, Relating and Mating online program, you need four primary areas of compatibility: Chemistry, mutual values, mutual dreams and compatible communication styles. If one area is significantly out of alignment, your relationship may be in serious trouble.
Jake and Hannah have counseled couples over the last 25 years. I used their protocol when choosing my mate and I can tell you, it’s the best relationship compatibility test there is. Make your commitment last by taking you and your partner through this program.
3. Aligning with someone who has a very different communication style.
• She’s a busy body. He’s a couch potato.
• He likes to get things out in the open and confront problems. She tends to bury her feelings and avoid conflict.
• He’s an extreme extrovert. She’s an extreme introvert.
• She speaks her thoughts as they happen. He broods on things and only discusses them once he has come to conclusions.
• He makes decisions quickly. She makes decisions slowly.
Communication styles are present throughout every interaction, every single day. Differences are fine. However, can you adapt to your partner’s style? Can you accommodate without going nuts?
Don’t think that you’ll learn to deal with it in time, no problem. Learn to deal with it before making the commitment, or don’t commit.
4. Aligning with someone who has different values.
• He’s motivated by money and success. She’s motivated by learning and spirituality.
• He values security and safety. She values adventure and freedom.
• He’s an atheist. She’s a Christian.
• She prizes her health and nutrition. He loves beer and pizza.
• He’s a lifelong learner. She’s a partier.
• He loves to travel. She’s a home body.
We make decisions based on our values. Because couples need to make decisions together and often, conflicting values lead to conflicted relationships. Conflicted relationships are stressful.
Don’t think that you are going to change your partner’s values. It’s very rare that this happens according to plan. Find someone who shares your values.
5. Overlooking chemistry.
You’d think that this basic biological response would be an obvious deal-breaker when it’s not present. However, plenty of people overlook a lack of physical attraction in favor of securing a relationship.
The chemistry will come in time.
No, it won’t. So, don’t count on it.
Chemistry is discovered early and easily. Just hug, hold hands, kiss, or even smell each other. You won’t need to think about it. You’ll feel the chemistry, or not. No chemistry, no romance. In this case, you’ll have a steering wheel, but no fuel in your engine.
So you want to be together but you’re broke. My advice: get the money figured out securely, then move your relationship to the next level. After all, without money, you cannot build a life together. Worse, you don’t have any evidence of financial
viability or responsibility in your relationship.
If your partner is the financial risk; in other words if your partner can’t keep a job or make money, then don’t count on that changing as you move ahead. Someti
mes relationships begin with the understanding that only one will make the money.
If you’ll be depending on your partner’s contribution, then see the evidence that it will be consistent before making a commitment. Otherwise, you’re rolling the dice and you shouldn’t base your financial future on luck.
7. Disregarding your nagging doubts.
How many people struggle with nagging doubts even as they walk down the aisle? More than you’d imagine.
Manchester News reports that nearly half of divorcees believed their relationship was doomed right up to the wedding day. Instead of enjoying the big day, 45% of people surveyed by Slater and Gordon struggled through it with a worried mind.
The cure for nagging doubts is to express them to your partner and work through the issues. If you can’t work through them, then you’ll save yourself years of pain by enduring the more immediate separation.
8. Ignoring the need for boundaries.
Establish your boundaries up front. You’re an individual. You need time alone. You may have hobbies that differ from your partner’s likings. You have friends, a family and personal interests. When you blend your life with another, you’ll be part of something greater. Yet, you maintain your individuality. This needs to be respected.
If you don’t establish this up front, it only gets harder to do so as time passes. You don’t need to do everything together. You don’t need to enjoy the same things all the time. It’s OK to be separate some of the time. When you need your time, take it. Make sure your partner is strong enough to handle that. Otherwise, you’re looking at a lifetime of resentment when you sacrifice your personal wants over and over.
9. Excusing poor treatment of others.
Don’t overlook reality when your partner is mistreats others. One client of mine married a bully. In her naivete, she thought that if was fine if her fiance was mean or rude to others. After all, she wanted to be with someone strong who would protect her.
She was shocked, after the marriage, when he turned his bullying on her. She was now his primary target. For years she walked on eggshells, fearing verbal abuse at the slightest misstep. Finally, she left him in an ugly divorce.
Ask yourself if you’d want to be on the receiving end of your partner’s behavior. You will be one day, rest assured.
10. Justifying someone’s past in hope for a better future.
Everyone has a track record. Do you know your partner’s history? You should. Interestingly, most people share their personal histories too early in the relationship, often on the first date. Instead of laying the foundation for a friendship (which should come first), they dive into the deep stuff.
At any rate, your partner’s past will contribute in a meaningful way to his or her future. If that future involves you, then you want to know how much they’ve had to overcome. And if they have truly overcome it. Financial struggles, addiction, relationship issues (abandonment, betrayal, abuse), legal issues – all these affect the present.
Don’t write off the history in favor of a fantasy future. Reality will strike soon!
In short, don’t sabotage yourself!
Self-sabotage is probably the most overlooked aspect of forming relationships. When you overlook red flags, remain silent and move ahead in spite of your doubts, you’re setting yourself up for pain. And this is the nature of self-sabotage. We keep returning over and over to the familiar pain of rejection, being controlled and deprived.
If self-sabotage might be an issue for you, then begin to learn about it by watching this free and enlightening video.
You can learn more about the Dating, Relating and Mating program here. Much of this article is based on insights gained from this program.
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