“I don’t know what went wrong. Our relationship was headed in a positive direction and then—wham!—it all fell apart.” Sound familiar? In the quest to find the love, lots of people have experienced something just like that. However, most of the triggers that cause a budding relationship to detonate are not all that mysterious.
Here are five of the most common:
1. Too physical, too fast
It takes time to form the healthy emotional circuits needed to sustain a lasting relationship. Trust and the willingness to commit can’t be rushed. But surging sexual energy can short out a potential partnership, if it is switched on too early. Becoming physically intimate can open up a large number of issues that put pressure on a fledgling relationship — and destroy it before it has a fighting chance.
2. Unchecked emotional baggage
As often as we describe a new relationship as a “fresh start,” that usually not entirely true. All of us carry wounds we’ve received in life—as children, in previous relationships, or in the trenches of modern society. Making room for a new partner may cause you to trip over things you’d forgotten were there. And, of course, he or she certainly has hidden hurts, too. The issue is not the wounds we carry or the scars we bear, since everyone has some of those. The issue is the willingness to examine and work through emotional difficulties. To succeed in a new love relationship, both partners must be willing to sift through the baggage and do the work required to get over a painful past.
3. Dishonesty and deception
Lies destroy a crucial component of any relationship: trust. Once you catch a whiff of duplicity in the air, look out! Sure, it could be an isolated incident or a half-truth that might be forgiven and forgotten, but often it’s a sign of trouble. A person’s need to lie is a telling clue about his character and emotional health. It may indicate serious insecurity, lack of integrity, or flimsy moral standards. And if dishonesty shows up while dating, it’s likely to only get worse during marriage. Here’s a sobering fact of life: If your partner is willing to lie to you once, he or she is likely to do it again.
4. Emotional cling wrap
Few relationships are able to survive extreme jealousy, possessiveness, overdependence, or manipulative and controlling behavior. Such actions and attitudes are a sure sign that one or both people lack a solid emotional foundation. Placing excessive demands on your partner’s time and attention may seem like a normal expression of romantic love. In reality, it is a destructive form of domination. Freedom to be yourself—without someone else constantly telling you what you should or should not do—is critical if your relationship is going to thrive and flourish.
5. Fairy tale fantasies
Unrealistic expectations serve as treacherous sinkholes on the road to lasting love. When a woman describes her man as “my perfect Prince Charming” and a man thinks she is “a goddess who can do no wrong,” they are destined to fall back down to earth with a nasty crash. There’s nothing wrong with believing the best about each other, admiring your partner’s positive qualities, and nurturing dreams of a bright future together. But in a healthy dating relationship, the individuals acknowledge that nobody is perfect and there will surely be problems to address. Every relationship will require hard work and perseverance.