The Relationship-Sabotaging Behavior You're Probably Holding On To
A relationship burns out when there is no more energy to give. Both of you need to have positive energy to make it work, but sometimes we get so depleted, we just can't do it anymore. When that occurs, most people's first instinct is to go into avoidance mode (leaving the relationship) in order to avoid triggering uncomfortable emotions, like the fear of not being loved, of being rejected, of not being enough.
Other people will fight those same emotions in a desperate attempt to save the relationship. You might wonder what makes it desperate. Can't it just be wanting to save the relationship? Well, it could. The difference is the motivation. When actions are driven by fear, your primary goal is to avoid pain rather than to face uncertainty or loneliness, even if it's for the greater good. You cannot act from fear and love at the same time. Fear is the opposite of love. And one of the best ways to avoid acting from a place of fear when turmoil arises is to be consistently caring for yourself and maintaining a distinct identity from your relationship.
Here are six strategies to minimize your chances of burning out or acting out of fear:
1. Love yourself.
Know that you are lovable and that you are enough. It's a simple concept, but all of us have some of the deep fears mentioned above, and there is something out there that can trigger those fears to take over. Remind yourself regularly of how great you are, and do things that make you feel capable and worthy.
2. Make those little things that make you happy part of your daily routine.
Smile at a stranger. Take a moment to remember a fantastic day with your partner. It doesn't really matter what the act is—just prioritize experiencing happiness on a daily basis. This replenishes your emotional capital, which makes you a better partner. That, in turn, makes your partner feel happier. Remember, a relationship is a system. If one cog in the machine jams, the whole system is likely to get thrown out of whack.
3. Remind yourself that your needs are just as important as your partner's needs.
Sleep, healthy food, exercise, and intellectual stimulation are all essential to your well-being. While your relationship is essential, too, it requires you to contribute energy to it. If you neglect your needs, you will inevitably use up all the energy you have. Safeguard your relationship by caring for yourself.
4. Don't push your family and friends away because you're stuck in the relationship bubble.
You have to keep other relationships active and enriched. It's crucial to your well-being, and the health of your relationship, to have a support system aside from your partner. What will you do when you're fighting if you have no one but that person to turn to for help and comfort? That's a great way to develop a codependent relationship, which isn't healthy for anyone.
5. Look for the positive.
When the "honeymoon" period of a relationship fades away, we tend to forget what we found so appealing in the other to start with. Reality sets in, and then we tend to start in on our partner. We have to make a conscious effort to remember what we found so endearing initially. Yes, those qualities are still there. We just have to work to remind ourselves of them.
6. Go on a date with your partner and follow this rule: Don't talk about the boring stuff.
It's so easy to go out and spend the whole time talking about your problems. Try to remember your first few dates. You didn't focus on the parts of your life that were bumming you out. You probably tried to focus on what was going right and enjoy the moment. Do that no matter how long you've been together, and it'll bring back those honeymoon phase feelings.
Want more insight into your relationship? Find out the five things couples who stay together do every day and the ways your sex life can show you what's wrong in your relationship.
Joelle now has over five years of experience with EFT and other energy psychology techniques. She gained her level 3 (advanced) accreditation with AAMET, and she is a certified life coach with the Robbins Madanes Institute for Strategic Intervention.