There’s nothing as exciting, as amazing, as your first relationship. Except maybe your second relationship. Or your third relationship. In other words, you’re going to do this a few times until you find your perfect match, so you might as well address the most common relationship mistakes right from your very first one, especially if you…
Think Your First Relationship Is the Only Relationship You Will Ever Have
Have you ever seen a couple and thought, "How did those two wind up together?" or "What does she/her see in him/her?" or "Why am I wandering around town, secretly following and judging couples I don’t even know?" Well, sometimes people are so afraid of being alone that they will grab on to the first person who asks them out—or simply asks them for directions—with a white-knuckled grip and never, ever let go. Unfortunately, this prevents you from ever being able to find the person who might be right for you. Or find that it’s perfectly okay to be on your own. Or find that you were so focused on finding absolutely anyone to be with that you’ve been calling your partner by the wrong name for six years, and they haven’t corrected you because they’re afraid then you might leave them.
Expect the Other Person to Be a Mind Reader
It’s not uncommon to think, "If they really loved me they would know what I need without me having to tell them, especially if I stare right at them and make ‘woo-ooo-ooo’ noises as I use my hands to push my brainwaves towards them." But relationships can only survive on communication. That’s because the less you say to each other means the less you really get to know each other and so the more you have to wonder what the other person is thinking. Which would seem to be the perfect full circle back to your partner becoming a mind reader. Until you realize what he or she is thinking isn’t, "They need a backrub after a long, hard day" but rather "They’re angry at me, they’re clearly going to leave me, and now they’re staring at me going ‘woo-ooo-ooo’ because that’s some sort of death curse so I better flee this lunatic right now."
Try to Be Perfect for the Other Person
The very first time you’re in a relationship you may start to have some self-doubts like "Is he/she happy with me?" Or "Is he/she getting bored with me already?" Or "Maybe if I didn’t date a hermaphrodite I wouldn’t have to keep referring to them as he/she." And so you try to be the perfect partner so they will like you more and not tire of you. The problem is, trying to be "the perfect partner" usually means "doing everything the other person wants so they never have any reason to be upset with you." And that means your whole life starts to revolve entirely around someone else’s needs at the expense of your own hopes and goals. And THAT means you’re no longer someone’s partner, you’re his or her personal assistant. So best to be considerate of the other person’s feelings, make sure they are always considerate of yours, and if they ever ask you to change who you are inside just say "He/She can go drop dead!" mostly because that will confuse the hell out of them.
Do EVERYTHING Together
When you start a relationship—especially a first relationship—you want to spend as much time with the other person as possible. You want to see them every day. You want to do everything with them. You want to be so close so often that people start calling you by one of those combo names like "Brangelina" or "Homarge." But you mustn’t forget the age-old, homespun sayings "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" and "Just give me thirty damn seconds to go pee by myself and besides, everyone in the restaurant is watching you follow me into the restroom." That’s because way too much of a good thing can cause one to lose desire for it, people need time and space to collect their thoughts and do their own thing so they can be a happier, better partner, and most combo names sound so awful that a relationship might end just so neither of you has to hear something like, "Hey look! Here comes Mortina!"
Communicate Only Through Arguments
Here’s the thing—arguing can actually help relationships. I don’t mean the type of full-volume, all-out-lunacy arguing like "YOU CALL THAT AN AMPERSAND!!! THAT’S NOTHING BUT A SLOPPY 8!!!" I mean healthy arguments in which you openly discuss what is bothering you without raising your voice (since the louder you get the less you communicate), without blaming, and with the hope of finding a solution, not just proving yourself completely right and the other person completely wrong. However, if everything becomes a cause for arguing then that means the two of you have simply drawn battle lines, have started taking everything as a character slight or personal offense, and have realized you’re no longer being invited to dinner parties because no one wants to deal with the couple that screams over who can make the best damn swan with the host’s cloth napkins.
Feel like You’re a Failure at Relationships Because It Didn’t Work Out
When a relationship ends it isn’t because you’re not good at this or it was all your fault. Some people—some perfectly nice people—just aren’t meant to be together. In fact, the worst thing you can do is try to prolong something that clearly was not meant to be. So when a relationship ends (and all of them will until you find the one that doesn’t, and have faith that you will indeed find the one that works), try to glean some important lessons from the experience, give yourself some time to collect your thoughts rather than immediately date someone else, and don’t text your ex after 1 am, a few drinks, or while sitting in an idling car outside their house.
What mistakes did you make in your first relationship? Let us know in the comments!