By Laura Schwecherl
Romance isn’t just about a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. A satisfying relationship can also make people feel happy and healthy. But, keep in mind that successful relationships aren't just about rainbows and butterflies — a healthy partnership requires communication, respect, and plenty of good habits from both people. So, when dating that special someone, avoid stalking their ex on Facebook, keeping feelings bottled up, and splitting the double cheeseburger every night. These (and 12 other) bad habits could make a great relationship take a turn for the worse.
Save the Spark — Your Action Plan
1. Trying to improve him/her. News flash: There’s no such thing as a perfect person, so don’t expect unrealistic changes. Reminding him or her to make the bed is one thing, but trying to radically change shyness or anxiety is another — and could be ignoring the underlying causes for those issues in the first place.
2. Finding faults with the fam. The ’rents may be harder to handle than your significant other. But, even if there’s some clashing of heads, don’t focus on the family’s faults. Getting criticism from family members can make people feel depressed and hostile — which means some tense holiday dinners. Besides, the situation can’t be worse than what Gaylord went through.
3. Engaging in constant PDA. Getting it on in public can not only make bystanders uncomfortable, it may also compensate for a lack of real communication. Stick to hand-holding and quick kisses, and save the rest for the bedroom (or the cell phone?).
4. Fighting in public. As if PDA weren’t bad enough. Arguing in public can embarrass the couple and make everyone around you feel awkward, too. Talk it out in private, please.
5. Avoiding fighting. Love isn’t all good, all the time. Disagreements are bound to happen, and arguments can be a healthy part of a relationship. Never having conflict may make compromise impossible. Just don’t make fighting an all-day affair.
6. Not talking it out. If something is wrong, the other person probably can’t read your mind. When a problem comes up, speak up at the right time. One study suggests young couples are less stressed when they talk out their issues than when they keep their feelings bottled up. And don’t forget to say, “I love you.” Expressing emotions — positive and negative — can benefit that bond.
7. Timing discussions badly. Conversations about important issues, like relationship expectations and financial blunders, all have their time and place. Don’t bring up serious topics when someone’s stressed, like at the end of the workday or right before hosting a party. Set up a time to talk when both people are relaxed.
8. Keeping score. Sure, relationships should be about give and take, but don’t keep track of every little detail (For example: I paid for the last six dinners, and you only paid for five!). It can cause unnecessary tension.
9. Spying. When two people want to make it work, trust is key. Have confidence in your mate and respect their privacy: Don’t snoop through texts, emails, or bedroom drawers. (Definitely don’t use this!)
10. Allowing jealousy to take over. Doubting your partner may be a symptom of a larger problem: relationship insecurity. And, women who feel insecure in their relationships may be at greater risk for health issues like a weakened immune system. Some advice for reducing envy, at least temporarily? Stay off Facebook and other social networking sites.
11. Constantly comparing. Forget the ex and stop comparing a current partner with a person from the past. This could lead to unrealistic expectations.
12. Doing everything together. Everyone needs some alone time (yep, even hopelessly devoted couples). Solitude may even enhance relationships, making time together more valuable.
13. Not being honest with yourself. Don’t just be honest with a companion. Stay real about what you need in order to stay satisfied. Is a long-distance relationship really worth the work? Is it okay that they’re working all the time?
14. Forgetting why you’re in it. Remember to ask yourself why you two are dating, and what you want out of it. Does a partner want to put a ring on it while you want to remain casual? Being with someone for the wrong reasons is one slippery slope!
15. Taking him or her for granted. Always remember why you love that special someone. Showing gratitude and paying attention to that good person by your side will only make the relationship stronger.