Relationship advice is everywhere. Whether it's a blog post or an article telling us how to navigate our way through those partner-related problems and pitfalls, or the well-meaning advice of friends and family, it seems like everyone has an opinion on what's best for our love lives.
And despite good intentions, some ideas are actually counter-productive, and can be damaging to your relationship. So here they are, the top 7 relationship tips that can do more harm than good:
1. A good relationship should be effortless.
It's often said that if you're in the right relationship, it should just flow, but if it feels like hard work, it's a sure sign that you need to end things. Yet most relationships throw up all kinds of challenges in order to help us grow. If we just give up at the first sign of trouble, we're avoiding a real opportunity to work through our issues and evolve.
2. You should just "know" how to make your relationship work.
We can often feel like it's down to us to figure out our relationships, without much guidance or support. That's because we're not being taught the skills for healthy relationships — and we often hold our own relationship up to those impossible ideals presented in the media, in movies and in magazines. So it's no surprise that so many relationships hit the rocks, and so many marriages end prematurely.
Sometimes we need a little help – and that's where books, counseling, workshops, and even relationship courses can be valuable. Seek help if you're struggling; you don't need to go it alone!
3. Arguments are unhealthy.
While some couples may get along perfectly and rarely exchange a cross word, the reality is that for most of us, disagreements are a normal part of any relationship. What matters is how you communicate your differences, and the methods you use to negotiate and resolve those disagreements.
Learn how to structure your communication so that you can work towards a mutually satisfactory conclusion, without pointing the finger of blame or belittling your loved one. Listen to understand, not just to reply — and most importantly, embrace differences as a normal part of a relationship's natural ebb and flow.
4. You shouldn't have to change for your partner.
Relationships require flexibility — and while you shouldn't have to change your entire personality to suit your partner's expectations, compromise is an essential part of any successful union.
Whether you're negotiating who pays what share of the bills, or just deciding what to have for dinner, your best methods for resolving differences are communication, patience and empathy.
5. Your partner should intuitively know what you want.
We've all seen those relationships in which each partner seems to instinctively know what the other wants, needs and even thinks ... but in reality, they've probably worked hard to get to that point.
Many couples don't actually know how to ask for what they want. Instead they fall into the common trap of focusing more on what they don't want. Practice sharing your innermost wishes and desires on a regular basis, so your partner can learn to read you more easily. Then you'll be well on the way to cultivating that "telepathic" understanding of your partner's unique drivers and motivations, so you can offer more of what really makes them happy, without them feeling misunderstood.
6. If you love someone, you'll always want to be around them.
Relationship co-dependency is everywhere, and it comes from an often-mistaken belief that we need to spend every waking hour with our partners, otherwise we'll grow apart. Yet space in a relationship can actually bring you closer, keeping it fresh and exciting.
Develop your own interests outside a relationship, and come together to share those new experiences. Without a doubt, being close and spending time together is important, but relationships also need room to grow strong and bloom.
7. Romantic moments should just happen naturally.
This may be true in the movies, but in real life, romantic moments often take a little planning. Spontaneity is all well and good, but life often gets in the way, and over time we can forget to make time for each other as we used to.
Try setting aside one night per week to spend some quality time together, and look around for ideas to help you share more intimate moments, more regularly.
Don't wait for romance to just happen. Passion and intimacy can only remain alive if you both work at consciously creating them in your lives.