6 Mistakes You Might Be Making In Your Relationship Right Now

In Your Relationship

Two things are happening here:

1. Your partner can’t accept your apology until they feel you see the offense from their perspective. They need to know that you understand all the reasons they are hurt before they can move on.

2. Their nervous system is still agitated, and it will take a minute, or much longer, depending on what happened, for this to work through their system. You need to give them time to allow this to happen.

After an apology, allow your partner to articulate what the incident meant to them. Repeat what they say back to them, in your own words, so they know that you really “get it.” Ask questions if something seems unclear. Don’t make excuses or try to put into context what was going on with you until they truly feel heard, and only then, if it seems crucial to do so. Most of the time, it’s better to listen, try to do better next time, and move on.

Also read 10 Psychological Signs Someone Truly Misses You

3. YOU GET MAD AT YOUR PARTNER FOR GETTING ANGRY WITH YOU.

This usually looks one of three ways:

1. Your partner is upset and tells you why, which hurts your feelings so much that they end up comforting you.

2. Your partner tells you they’re upset, and instead of dealing with the matter at hand, you pivot to complaining about how they expressed their feelings.

3. Your partner is upset, and you launch into something they did, which you insist is much worse, and that you’re the one who deserves the apology.

These are all very effective ways to derail any constructive or healing conversation.

I’m going to be blunt: If you’re doing this, you need to knock it off. This is corrosive behavior and not a way to operate in an adult relationship.

If your partner attacks you when they’re upset, gives you the silent treatment, or insists nothing is wrong when clearly something is amiss, that is very problematic and demands a separate conversation. But too often, I see this kind of deflection and blame-shifting even when the partner expressing the concern does so in an appropriate way.

Instead, try curiosity rather than defensiveness. It’s tough to hang in and keep listening instead of launching into defense mode, but that is precisely what mature relationships require us to do. Do your best to slow the conversation down, take several beats before you react, and make sure you understand what the problem is before sharing your response.

If you don’t get it, ask neutral questions until you can reflect your partner’s concern to show you understand. Then ask what you can do to repair the issue, and apologize. Bonus points if you ask, “Is there anything else I’m missing” before you end the conversation.

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6 Mistakes You Might Be Making In Your Relationship Right Now

4. YOU’D RATHER FIGHT THAN ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT

We over-communicate once we’re upset and under-communicate beforehand. It often seems we’d rather be disappointed and angry after an incident than be vulnerable and set expectations ahead of time.

This can be as simple as asking your partner to check in with you periodically at a social event you’re worried about, or as complicated as saying what you’d like your life to look like in five years.

Asking for what we need often feels nakedly vulnerable. We don’t want to look “needy” or insecure. Even if it reveals neediness or insecurity, Anger can feel empowering and energizing at the moment but erodes our relationships over time.

In a healthy relationship, your partner wants you to be happy. If that isn’t the case, you need to reevaluate whether you want to be with this person. I often hear, “But he should know what I want,” or, “I don’t want to have to tell her every single thing.”

This mindset leads to years of resentment and unhappiness that can easily be avoided through up-front, clear communication.

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Tonya Lester

Tonya Lester, LCSW, is a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, NY. She graduated from New York University with a Master's degree in Social Work. Her post-graduate training includes a fellowship at Psychoanalytic Theory at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Theory and Research (IPTAR) and supervised practice in Psychodynamic Therapy under Drs. C.E. Robins and John Broughton. She completed training in IFS with Dick Schwartz, Nancy Sowell, and Pam Krause. Her training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was with John Forsyth, Ph.D. She studied RLT with its creator, Terry Real. Additional writing and resources, such as journal prompt and values work, are available at www.tonyalester.com.View Author posts