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11 common relationship mistakes

Last updated on: June 28, 2011 16:10 IST

Photographs: Rediff Archives Shilpa Shet

Priya (name changed) is finally getting married. Why do we say "finally" and who is Priya?

Priya is a young girl, working in Mumbai. Her special talent, she says, is falling for the wrong guy. "Ever since the time I was a teen I have fallen for guys who have mentally tortured me They would monitor everything I do and were physically abusive," she recalls.

Ask her why she got into such relationships and she says, "Well initially it was fun. Someone being so possessive about you and caring for you so much Then, after some time you realise that you just don't have a say in anything."

Now older and wiser, she agreed to look at the matches her parents suggested. "I couldn't trust myself," she remembers, "I was so hurt and so low that I decided that I should leave the task to someone who knows me and cares about me. And my parents have found the perfect guy for me."

That's how Priya ensured she did not repeat the mistakes she made in her previous relationships.

Experts analysing Priya's predicament say she exhibited something called a relationship pattern. A relationship pattern indicates the choices you make in a relationship. It's not just limited to the choice of a partner but also your behaviour and attitude towards a partner.

Dr Dayal Mirchandani, psychiatrist and relationship counsellor, says, "I get such cases all the time."

"Such cases" are cases where people make incorrect choices in a relationship. They end the relationship and then again repeat the same mistakes.

So, how do we ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes we made in a relationship that has now ended?

Dr Mirchandani says, "First, we have to determine whether there is a pattern. Often these things are psychological."

A lot of factors affect this psychology your parents' relationship with each other, your initial exposure to relationships, an emotional upheaval that could not be managed, and so on.

However, there are some bloomers that are typically you. Here's a list, check which of these is your nemesis:

1. Suspicion

Do you constantly want to know where you partner is, what he/she is doing? Do you want to know which friends he went with?

Do you have that niggling doubt that may be he is lying to you or worse still, cheating on you?

Beware of suspicion. This habit has drowned many a romantic sail.

To overcome suspicion, do the following:

Meditate; this will calm your nerves

The minute a suspicious thought creeps into your mind, think of the fun times you've had with your partner and how positive you are about him or her.

Talk to your friend and assert how much you care about your partner.

Look into the mirror and say aloud three good things about your partner.

If none of these helps, you may need professional help.

2. Nag

Are you in the habit of saying the same thing over and over again? Do you badger your partner about things? Are you in the habit of telling your partner what to do and what not to do?

Well, that, in short, is what nagging is all about. This can be very irritating for your partner and eventually can lead to severe problems.

Here's how you can deal with it:

If you want your partner to help you with something, tell her once.

If you think she hasn't responded positively, ask her again. If she still doesn't do it, forget it. Get someone else to help out.

3. Space

Do you need your partner around all the time? Do you want to do everything together as a couple?

Have you ever asked if your partner wants the same? Do you fret and fume when your partner goes out with his friends?

If you've answered yes to all these, you probably have space-issues. You could be smothering your partner with your love. Very soon, your relationship might die a silent death.

Here's how you avoid this trap:

Doing things as a couple is good. However, both of you should be enthusiastic about that activity. If one partner is reluctant, don't push him/her. Accept it and see if you can get hold of a friend for the activity.

Get a life of your own. Reconnect with all your old friends and plan outings.

Rekindle your hobbies. If you are doing what you love doing, you are less likely to want your partner with you all the time.

4. Jealousy

Do you get angry when your partner compliments someone from the opposite sex or even looks at them? Do you not like your partner's friends of the opposite sex?

Well, this is simple, isn't it? You are obviously bitten by the jealousy bug.

There are many ways you can get over this:

Repeat every night as you go to bed and every morning -- I trust and love my partner because... (add your reasons here). This is one of the most powerful ways of getting over a jealous temperament.

In your notebook or diary, write this in bold -- "I trust my partner completely."

Talk it out with your partner. See what he/ she has to say about it. For all you know, a good laugh over this might just cure you.

Strengthen your relationship by positive thoughts and acts like leaving love notes for your partner where she least expects it.

If none of these help, get help.

5. Eager to please

Your partner has invited some friends over to his place and you have a presentation next morning. Do you go out of your way to cook, clean, scrub etc to make your partner happy?

Do you leave everything at hand when you realise your partner is sulking? Do you let go of your part of an argument just to keep your partner happy?

If you've said yes to all of these, well, you are too eager to please your partner. Such traits eventually affect your self esteem and may cause a split.

Here's how you avoid getting into this one:

Get your priorities clear in life. Your first priority is yourself. If you love yourself everyone around you also loves you.

Do things that you like doing. If you don't know what you like, well then, identify it first.

Write down what you like in life, what you love to do. And let no one come between that. It's okay to sacrifice once in a while, but not always.

Finally, get a life of your own.

6. Too independent

Do you suddenly take off without telling your partner where you are going? Do you not like being asked where you are and what you are doing (even if it is done nicely)? Are you afraid of sharing too much with your partner?

That makes you an independent person. Nothing wrong with that -- if it is not affecting your relationship.

If it is, here's what will help:

Slow down. Join a yoga or meditation class if need be.

Remind yourself constantly that you are a social being and that you love your partner very much.

Discuss this with your partner/friends and see if you can find some solutions.

7. Sulker

Do you tend to go around with a long face when you are upset? Do you think that no one cares about your problems?

Are you in the habit of going without speaking to your partner for days after a fight, despite attempts made by him/her to reconcile?

You probably love to sulk.

Don't like it and think it's affecting your relationship?

Here are some tips:

As soon as you feel yourself beginning to sulk, do something exactly opposite. If you have a sense of adventure, you can start dancing, singing, etc. Surprise your partner.

Everyone has a melting point. Melting point is when you acquiesce, when you given in. Find out what yours is. And discuss it with your partner during good times.

You may think you are letting down your fences, but you are actually strengthening a good relationship.

Every time a sulk is coming on, your partner can use your melting point to help you.

8. Insecure

Insecure is when you have answered yes to questions on suspicion, space and jealousy. Insecurity can make you feel all these things.

Here's what to do:

If you are good at speaking with yourself, find out what was the trigger point for your insecurity.

We are not born insecure. Hence, a trigger point will help you identify and then deal with your internal conflicts.

If that doesn't help, seek professional help.

9. Controlling/ dominating

Do you micro and macro-manage your partner's activities? Do you make the choice of what she/ he should wear, what he should eat and what is good for her?

You probably have not got into many relationships. If you have, you may have had problems. However, there are always solutions, if you want them.

Here's what you can do:

Listen and look at your partner. Is she responding? Is she happy? This may take a little bit of practice initially, but later it will be a habit.

Talk to your partner and discuss ways you can together respect and love each other.

10. The loser

Do you feel sad and lonely in a relationship? Do you often feel you get a raw deal? Do you do things that you don't want to do? Are you often forced into doing things?

You are probably feeling miserable even as you read this.

Don't worry, here's what you can do:

Stand in front of the mirror and say "I love myself because..." Do this every day in the morning and at night just before you head to bed.

Make a list of things that make you happy. Create an action plan for the first three items. Begin with these and then make your way down the list.

Talk to your friends about their goals and aspirations. You may learn so many things you didn't know before.

You may even look at some self-help workshops to boost your self esteem.

11. The abuser

Do you get super angry about silly mistakes made by your partner? Do you get physically abusive with your partner?

Are you in the habit of getting mad with anyone outside -- your co-workers or people on the road? Are you unhappy with the way your life is right now?

You may not even know that you are unhappy from within.

However, if you want to change, there are ways:

Ask yourself if what you are doing is right.

Talk to your partner and ask him/ her what s/he thinks.

If you both think it's wrong, talk to some close friend or family to understand what you can do about it.

Find out if your love can overcome all your internal conflicts and traits.

Finally, if nothing else works, take professional help.

Identify your improvement area and work on it

Most people will recover from their mistakes once they have identified them. Especially the young, says Dr Mirchandani. "There are many ways to ensure you do not make the same mistakes."

Here are some ways not to repeat those mistakes:

1. Talk to a close friend to first of all identify what the mistake is. Discuss and find out their perspective.

2. Reflect on the issue. Write down what you learnt from the relationship.

3. Listen to your gut instinct -- many times our instinct tells us what is right or wrong. Listen to that inner voice.

4. Write down every day the happy state that you want to be in.

Dr Mirchandani says that if none of these work and you still make the same mistakes, go for therapy. Get an appointment with a psychiatrist you trust.

Tarun Shah, a college student from Pune says, "I don't think we are so deep. It's okay if one relationship doesn't work out. We don't have to worry about that now. I am sure some day when they have to work, they will."

It is this conviction in the young that helps them recover from any patterns they may have set.

Says Reena Pandit, who is working in a call centre: "We all make some mistakes in our relationships. Some do not require special attention, while some, like abuse or violence, do. Ideally, if I have a thought I discuss it with my best friend and she keeps me grounded on that issue. I do the same for her."

For some, talking to their parents helps. "My parents are my best friends," says Shruti, "When I ended my relationship of four years, first of all I cried for, like, a month. Then, eventually, when I started getting back to normal, my mom talked to me and I couldn't hold anything back."

Shruti says her mom gave her valuable advice, which she heeds even today.

Dr Mirchandani agrees, "If it's not a pattern, you learn. You just reflect a bit and you learn. Even if it is a pattern, with therapy, you can break out of it."

Pattern or not, it is essential to reflect on a relationship that has ended. Remember this wise saying -- some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go that does so.