It was all sunshine and rainbows in the beginning — you and your partner got along famously, spent time together whenever possible, and even made your other coupled-up friends jealous of your chemistry. But somewhere along the line, things changed. While all relationships naturally change over time, you may start to blame and resent your partner for the new problems arising between the two of you. Does every conversation dissolve into fighting? Do you fail to ever come to an agreement? Instead of placing all the blame on your partner, it’s time to turn the finger right back around. Here are 10 signs you’re actually the one causing the drama in the relationship, plus some advice on what you can do to fix it.
1. You have nothing good to say about your partner
We all complain to our friends about our partners, but if every word out of your mouth is something nasty about the one you supposedly love, you should take a look inward. While letting out steam is necessary in many cases, it should lead to a deeper understanding of the problem and, ultimately, a resolution. Being overly-critical will only lead to resentment for both of you. Remember, you started dating your partner for a reason. There was something in them, whether it was their charming nature or outlook on life, that made you want to spend time with them. Try to get back to that instead of focusing on the negative. The Huffington Post recommends paying your partner a compliment and thanking them for the smaller things they do every day to make them feel more appreciated.
2. You bring up past events when you argue
No one wants to be reminded of their wrongdoings over and over again, so take notice if this is your go-to tactic for winning an argument. Your disagreements should be about exactly what’s happening in the moment and less about the fight you and your partner had two years ago. Keep your conversations relevant so you can find a good way to move forward. On Ask the Psychologist, Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D, writes any time an argument with your partner lasts longer than 10 minutes, the past is bound to crop up. When these emotional memories start integrating into the current discussion, the topic that was up for debate to begin with becomes completely lost, and emotions are likely to boil over. To avoid straying too far from the point, always make it a rule to avoid speaking of the past.
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3. It’s your way all the time
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again — relationships are all about compromise. While it’s important to have your own hopes and dreams to share with your partner, your future goals should somewhat intersect. If you find you’re the one calling the shots and you’re expecting your partner to go along with your plans with no push-back, then you could be hurting your relationship. If you’re unsure of how to have both your needs and your partner’s needs met, Oprah.com recommends asking yourself this question: Am I asking my partner to change something about themselves that makes them unique? If the answer is yes, it’s time for some self-reflection.
4. Your expectations are outrageous
You probably expect your partner to be your No. 1 fan, the person who’s always there for you. It’s fine to treat your partner with the same respect as you would a best friend, but keep in mind your partner cannot fulfill every need and desire. Dr. James McNulty, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, told The Independent, “People need to have some idea of what they can get from a marriage before they get it.” If you’re serious about your partner, understand what you can realistically expect out of your relationship. If you demand too much from your partner, you’ll be left disappointed and your partner will feel like they’ve underachieved.
5. Your partners have all had the same complaints about you
You may notice patterns in your relationships — maybe you find yourself complaining about how all of your partners have treated you unfairly or how they all have the same annoying habits. While patterns are evident in your ex-partners, your exes may all have the same complaints about you, too. Take some time to consider how your previous relationships ended. While excessive rumination can lead to unhealthy thoughts and depression, some research suggests this type of reflection can actually speed the emotional healing process after a breakup. You’re also a lot more likely to recognize mistakes you tend to repeat.
6. You can’t admit it when you’re wrong
We’ve all been there — you’re in the midst of a heated argument with your S.O. and you realize you’re dead wrong. The right thing to do in this situation is to gracefully step down from your throne and admit defeat. This doesn’t always happen, though, and that’s a problem. According to Psychology Today, it’s important to remember being wrong isn’t a character flaw. Being right is far less superior than being an improved version of yourself. During times of conflict with your partner, stop to ask yourself if you’re speaking from a genuinely good place, or if you’re just trying to win the argument.
7. You date people you want to change
You love everything about your partner — except maybe their family, career, clothing style, and choice of friends. If you find yourself picking apart your significant other and thinking how wonderful they’d be if only certain aspects about them were totally different, then you could soon destroy your relationship. You’re not going to love everything about your partner, and that’s OK. You’re bound to feel disappointed with your partner if you believe from the get-go they can be changed to fit your mold, as it’s really out of your control. Change occurs internally, and it will only happen if your partner wants it to.
8. You jump from one relationship to the next
If you’re already halfway into a new relationship when the last one just ended, you could be setting yourself up for failure. The Los Angeles Times says hopping from one relationship to the next could be a sign you’re looking for the “perfect” companion, or that you have self-esteem issues. Dr. Sheldon H. Kardener, a psychiatrist specializing in couples therapy, tells the publication some people do this as a way to prove they’re still desirable. This is unhealthy, however, and won’t lead to lasting love.
9. You stonewall when you’re angry
All couples argue — it’s how you and your partner deal with the argument that’s really important. If you’re able to keep your cool when tempers flare, then you’re probably able to come to a civil conclusion pretty quickly. However, if you’re the type to stonewall during any sign of conflict — that is, walking out in the middle of a discussion, refusing to discuss the topic at hand, or dismissing what your partner has to say — then you could be the reason your relationships seemingly go nowhere. Cooling down during an argument is one thing, but totally refusing to discuss important matters is quite another. According to GoodTherapy.org, stonewallers typically have problems with manipulation or control. Stonewalling is often used to regain power of a situation, which can make your partner feel helpless and frustrated. This behavior can spell disaster.
10. You talk to your friends about your relationship more than your partner
When we have complaints about our partner, we usually head toward our phone to text our friends about the situation. While dishing to your pals about your troubles over a beer can be cathartic, be careful with this. Lisa Brookes Kift, a psychotherapist, tells Psych Central repeatedly complaining to your friends about your partner is likely going to lead to a lot of negative feelings. You’ll also be shedding negative light on what your friends and family think of your partner, which can result in uncomfortable situations later on. Kift recommends taking note of how often you’re complaining to your friends, and what your frustrations are about. Think of your partner as a fly on the wall — if they overheard you, what would they think? You need to assess your needs, then address any areas that are lacking directly with your partner instead of explaining it to your friends.