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Love Mistakes

Avoid the five most common love traps smart couples fall into.

4:38PM, Jul 29

#1: Setting up house too quickly

Love lessons: It’s extremely common for couples to become very besotted, very quickly. The problem is, for the first three to 18 months of most relationships, people have their loved-up glasses on and can’t make practical, sensible decisions. They think moving in together after two weeks is a brilliant idea, as is buying a house full of yellow IKEA furniture!

“When we first meet, we are influenced by our need to hold onto that someone special,” says relationship psychologist Colleen Gray. “We don’t make time for the important conversations about what each other really want.” So what can you do? Make a different commitment, like exchanging promise rings or holidaying together to test the waters first.

Also map out your ideas for the future to make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to things like family, career, travel and money. It may sound scary, but it’s better to know now than later. 

#2: Making comparisons

Love lessons: There’s an old saying that, when we meet someone, we meet the people and experiences who have come before them. Dealing with exes, friends and family is just reality and we all need to be strong enough to handle that. “Everyone’s relationship is different and making comparisons is pointless,” says Gray.
“The binding glue of any relationship is friendship, interest, affection and enjoyment,” she adds. “You really have to focus on these four things and on the other person if you’re going to make your union work.” As they say, if the grass is always greener on other side of fence, water your own lawn!

#3: Spending 24/7 in each other’s pockets

Love lessons: Spending every minute of every day with someone is like indulging in good chocolate, fine wine and rich food – there’s only so much you can have at one time. After a while your appetite changes and you want to taste something different. “Human beings need space to think, take time out, do what they like doing, and recharge their batteries away from other’s expectations and demands,” says Gray. “Couples who work together in business usually say they just simply tire of the same conversations and have no respite from each other’s irritations.”

It’s flattering when someone wants to be with you all the time but giving your sole attention to anything isn’t healthy, so ensure you schedule time-out to get in touch with yourself and the rest of your life.

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#4: Seeing everything from one side

Love lessons: There’s a famous line in the flick Dumb and Dumber where Jeff Daniels’ character says “I called her up, she gave me a bunch of crap about me not listening to her, or something, I don't know, I wasn't really paying attention.” Can’t we all relate to that? “Not listening to each other is a huge problem for many couples,” explains Gray. “They’re so busy defending their point of view and trying to make the other person agree with them that they forget to resolve the issue at hand.” Writing your thoughts down in a letter to your partner, talking through problems when you’re not angry and staying good humoured is key to having an equal relationship (and a full set of china!).

Don’t make mountains out of small issues; it takes a confident person to accept other people’s opinions, even when they don’t match their own, so work on being strong and self-assured.

#5: Forgetting to live in the moment

Love lessons: It’s not surprising that in a world where it can take you three hours to drive to work, the pressure cooker on our lives is well and truly smokin’! Time is a precious gift, which is why we should give it to those we love the most. “If you ask a couple who are feeling the strain what’s missing from their relationship, they will say time together, talking to each other, doing the things they enjoy doing and having kid-free time,” says Gray. “Most people sacrifice ‘couple time’ first when they should be doing the exact opposite.”

Her tip? Try to see your partner as your first saw them – remember how they looked, felt, smelt – it will re-ignite your passion for them. We all commit relationship mistakes, the trick to a love-filled life is putting the time into overcoming them.

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