Not-so-fun fun fact: About 42% of marriages in the US end in divorce.
Leading a happy relationship with a future isn’t easy. Sometimes, it’s because you two aren’t compatible. Other times, you could’ve made it, but you slacked off.
It’s normal. It happens. Relationships take effort.
If you don’t put it in, they don’t last – or even worse, you get stuck in an unhappy, sexless marriage that makes both of you miserable. You either fight continuously or live separate lives, being together on paper, but not in mind, body, and soul. It has happened to me, as well.
Once I started watching men around me and reflected on my past, I realized we all have the same tendencies and fall into the same traps.
Here are the most common ones you need to avoid so you can have a loving relationship that’s a source of support, energy, and happiness.
#1: Misunderstanding What Conflict Is All About
Even the best relationship brings tough times.
Before my grandparents died, they had been married for over 50 years – and had plenty of disagreements. Plant another tree in the already full garden? Have home-cooked spaghetti for lunch every day? Go on an expensive vacation? Small issues can quickly become big problems, but a simple approach helped them get through and strengthen the relationship in the process.
“It’s not you versus the other, but you two against the problem.”
I know what it’s like when your partner triggers you – nobody can push your buttons as well as someone you love.
But conflict isn’t about who is right. It’s not about you as a person. It’s also not about the damn spaghetti. It’s about getting through it together.
When you disagree, it’s an opportunity to grow stronger together.
This doesn’t mean you should neglect your needs or try to make your partner happy all the time.
It means you two have the same problem – and you need to compromise.
That’s why in every disagreement, you should follow these guidelines:
- Don’t make it personal. We all have perks and quirks. That’s okay. Don’t try to change your partner but find a way to improve together.
- Stop using the terms “right” and “wrong.” It’s not about whether you have better opinions or can convince your partner to do something. “Winning” an argument often means losing in the relationship.
- Always ask, “What is our problem and what are our needs?” This frame alone will help you create more understanding and pave the path to a solution.
Conflict is nothing but a test. Relationships will challenge you to the brink of your abilities and beyond. Combine your forces and you’ll make it through.
That’s how you build a strong relationship.
#2: Giving Up The Courting Process
Most men view relationships the wrong way.
During the courting process, they have to put in work. Ask for a date, plan dates, and be funny. When they get into a relationship, it feels like the effort has paid off – and they can finally lean back and enjoy.
But in reality, it just started.
The moment you stop courting your partner is the moment your relationship starts going downhill. This doesn’t mean you have to do all the work forever – it’s a two-way street. But if you slack off, they will as well.
When one of my exes was living with me, we had a lot of arguments. Instead of planning amazing dates, I wanted to watch Netflix with her because it caused less headaches and drama. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long.
If you stop courting, it shows you don’t put in effort anymore so they don’t have to, either.
- Plan surprise dates. Few things will get your partner more excited than a “pick you up at 7 pm, wear something fancy” text.
- Tease and flirt. It keeps attraction and sexual tension high.
- Put in effort and make time. Life is busy, but you decide about your priorities.
Take the lead. If you feel like your partner doesn’t reciprocate the effort, talk about it.
#3: Settling In And Letting Yourself Go
It’s up to you if you age like fine wine – or like shriveling grapes.
It’s possible to stay wildly attractive as you grow older. My dad is in his 50s now – he’s still in great shape, has hobbies, passions, a good circle of friends, and works on himself. Women of almost all ages turn their heads.
Yet, I see many guys in their 30s with beer bellies, no hobbies outside of work, and about as much ambition as a dead goat. One of my friends gained over 50lbs after he started a relationship – and even more once they married.
They stopped caring and bought a VIP ticket to the city of Letyourselfgo.
It’s disrespectful to yourself and your partner. You shape their public image when you’re out with them as much as how they carry and present themselves. It is disrespectful to live an unhealthy lifestyle that will bring avoidable health problems into your home. It is respectful to stay on top of your health.
- Exercise and eat a healthy diet. You’d be surprised how long you can stay in shape – there are spry 60-year-old guys who are strong, capable, and full of energy.
- Keep your passions and hobbies. Have your own life – it keeps your mind sharp, creates a social circle, and gives you plenty to talk about. All attractive qualities in a long term relationship.
- Stay driven and follow a purpose. It energizes you, which will spill into other areas of your life.
Relationships aren’t achievements. You can’t unlock them once then reap the benefits forever. You have to pay the rent.
Keep yourself in shape, both physically and mentally.
#4: Losing Your Sense Of Self And Becoming Dependent On The Relationship
A relationship between two people is greater than the sum of its parts – but only under one condition.
You can’t lose yourself in the relationship.
My former best friend fell into this trap more times than I can count. With every girlfriend, he ditched his hobbies, passions, and friends to spend time only with her. This led to a bunch of issues.
First, he became dependent on the relationship. If things were going well, he was happy. If they weren’t, his whole life was impacted. This wasn’t healthy because he tied his emotional state to someone else’s behaviors.
Second, it burned both of them out. What seemed like fun in the beginning soon became a chore. Their couple time lost its specialness.
When they broke up, he was left with a huge, gaping hole – no friends, no hobbies, no sense of his own self, no nothing.
Do not make the same mistake.
However, it’s a fine balance. Neglecting your partner and the relationship in favor of yourself isn’t the Holy Grail, either. You just fall off the other side of the cliff.
So what can you do instead?
- Be present when you spend time together. Don’t be there physically but not mentally. Get done what you have to, but then give your undivided attention. One hour of presence is worth more than three hours of being somewhere else with your thoughts.
- Realize that you can’t pour from an empty cup. To show up for the relationship, you have to show up for yourself first. Do not neglect your own life or needs.
- Prioritize the relationship, not your partner. If you’re making a decision, ask yourself what’s best for your connection.
Never forget that you are your number one priority – only then can you show up from a position of power for others.
Avoid These Traps To Have A Happy And Supportive Relationship
A good relationship is smooth sailing most of the time.
However, you have to build a sturdy ship to navigate the seas when the ocean gets rough. This starts with yourself. You’re the one who steers the ship and inspires your partner to want to be by your side.
This doesn’t mean you have to do all the work by yourself – but if you slack off, the ship sinks.
To avoid that, stay clear of these common traps men often fall into:
- Misunderstanding conflict. It’s not about being right or wrong, but about solving a problem together.
- Giving up the courting process. A relationship isn’t an “end goal” you can reach and then forget about – you need to keep it alive by putting in effort.
- Settling in and letting yourself go. Show both of you some respect – being in a relationship isn’t an excuse to not work on yourself anymore.
- Losing your sense of self. It strains your connection because you become dependent on it – you’ll be in a terrible position when things get rocky.
Build a sturdy relationship and you’ll make it through life’s roughest storms together.