We have to admit that some of the of the ways we approach situations in life, like our relationships, come in part from our parents. We all grow up witnessing our parents’ interactions with each other, for better and worse, and a lot of that sticks with us all the way into adulthood. When we’re picking up good habits, it’s not such a bad thing. But unlearning bad relationship habits we learned from our parents and families is way harder. However, it’s not impossible, so don’t despair. You don’t have to end up like your parents (if you don’t want to).
But it’s probably not going to be easy, so don’t expect to unlearn all the bad relationship habits you might have overnight.
Just identifying your problem relationship habits is tough work, and you probably won’t even notice them until you’ve had the same issues with different partners. Or the same issues with the same partner, over and over again, which means you’ve had your fair share of heartache, either way. Identifying your bad relationship habits and working to unlearn them won’t save you from that, but doing those things will help you be a more empathetic and self-aware partner. And who doesn’t want a little more of that in their lives? Here are a few ways to break some of the patterns you keep falling into.
1Practice asking for what you want.
Some of us picked up some really bad techniques when it comes to getting what we want from partners. If you find yourself grumbling to yourself about your partner not noticing things that make you upset, stop and try to remember if you’ve actually *asked* them for things. You can’t expect your partner to be a mind reader or to pass tests that they’re not even aware are happening. Whether it’s needing them to make more time for date night, pick up more chores around your shared home, or just make the relationship social media official in the first place, start asking for what you want. Not only will it result in less resentment, everyone will know what the boundaries are.
2Remember that your partner has needs, too.
Sometimes we can get really wrapped up in our own needs that our partner’s beefs with us come as a surprise. Instead of getting defensive when your partner asks for something or is upset with you, ask them what they would like you to do. Maybe it’s to just listen instead of give advice when they complain about work. You don’t have to do whatever your partner says, but knowing what they’re expecting from you is the only way you can decide if the relationship can last.
3Don’t make your partner the world you orbit around.
Isolating a partner can be the first sign of an emotionally or physically abusive relationship. But even in healthy relationships, we can get caught up with romance and forget our friends and family. Checking in with the parts of your life outside of your relationship is the best way to gauge how things are going in your relationship. Getting too wrapped up in your partner and forgetting what you want will end up hurting you in the long run.
4Try and manage jealousy before it gets bad.
If you’re a particularly jealous person or know that you’re not great at trusting partners, speak up! Instead of succumbing to snooping or speculating later on, be honest up front about what would make you feel more secure in your relationship. Having relationship-PTSD from old, cheating partners (or a cheating parent) is normal. But you definitely want to let your partner know so they aren’t totally surprised when you freak out if they don’t check in after a night out or something.
5And know your own weaknesses.
If you tend to step out of your monogamous relationships and cheat on partners, you can break the cycle. Try to go back and think about what was going on with you and your relationship when you cheated in the past. You might be able to spot triggers and get ahead of them before you get the itch.
6Learn how to accept apologies and give them.
You can’t stay mad forever. If you and your partner are going through something and they apologize, you have to start learning how to accept it. (If you want to, of course, you are never under an obligation to forgive someone if you think it’s gone too far.) Accepting apologies and admitting you’re wrong (again, if you really think you are) is a healthy habit. The best way to unlearn your bad relationship habits is to acknowledge them and talk about them with a partner. That way, you’ll both spot the danger zones way before you hit them and hopefully, find a way out of the rough spots together.