Avoid common relationship traps to instead cultivate trust and understanding.
Don't buy into the myth of a fairy tale romance!
Have common interests with your partner.
Learn the five Cs to build a stable relationship and avoid common relationship traps.
Have you ever found yourself in a relationship with the wrong person? You get swept up in the first feelings of love and become blinded to any signs of trouble. Avoid common relationship traps and recognize potential red flags.
Those who are in love with the idea of a relationship because they want to appear nuanced set themselves up for failure, making it difficult to avoid common relationship traps. Real relationships take time and effort.
Relationship expert Dr. Richard Schwartz says relationships are a commitment and they require intentionality:
"You can wreck a relationship by being too focused away from it. You can also wreck a relationship by staring deeply into each other's eyes and having nothing else in your life."
Learn what makes relationships healthy and long-lasting, and how to avoid some of the most common relationship traps.
Common Signs You're in a Love Trap
If you're blinded by the idea of love, you won't even notice the signs you're in a love trap. There's nothing wrong with being in love, but don't seek love out of desperation or strife. Instead, seek to build a healthy relationship based on trust, commitment, and commonalities.
If you experience some of the following feelings, consider the possibility that they are red flags that signal a love trap.
You Feel Lonely
If you feel lonely in your relationship, it's because at least one aspect of your relationship isn't working out. For example, you feel a void in your relationship but don't know how to fill the void to feel happier. This happens when you and your partner lack an emotional connection.
Even couples who have been together for a long time forget how to communicate their feelings with one another.
Learn to be vulnerable and talk to your partner about what's bothering you. Doing so opens the lines of communication to share your feelings. If you talk to your partner about what's bothering you and they provide concrete examples to help but you still feel lonely, look internally to find out what's wrong.
The root of the issue may lie with you; don’t depend on your relationship to rescue you from your feelings.
You Don't Want To Stay
It’s possible that you don't want to stay in the relationship anymore because you lost feelings for your partner. Even if your partner treats you well, you don't feel attracted to them. Maybe your partner supported you when you were going through hardships, but now times are better and that passion just isn’t there.
Don't stay in a relationship out of obligation because you don't want to hurt their feelings. If the relationship feels boring or you're staying out of guilt, let it go. It's unfair to lead your partner into thinking everything is all right. You both deserve something better.
You Feel Controlled
Do you feel like everything you do results in your partner judging you or getting mad? Ask yourself why you feel like this. Does your partner criticize you for going out with friends instead of staying home with them? Do you sneak around and shop alone because you’re afraid of how they’ll react to your spending?
Even if they say they are looking out for your best interests, your partner shouldn't be controlling how you live your life.
Psychology Today's list of "20 Signs of a Controlling Partner" reveals the overt signs of controlling behavior. If your partner teases or ridicules you for simple things to make you feel bad, you're in a controlling relationship.
If you have to prove your self-worth to your partner, they're not worthy of your love and time.
You Feel Angry
You feel angry about everything and can't figure out why. Your relationship is at a point where things which never used to bother you are now driving you crazy.
Don’t give into your anger. Don't belittle, name-call, or curse at your partner because things aren't going your way in the relationship. When you treat your partner badly like this, they walk on eggshells and don't know how to talk to you.
Instead of arguing and yelling, talk to your partner about how your needs and expectations aren't met. If you feel angry, dig deeper into your psyche to see why you feel this way. If there's something else in your life not going the way you want it to be, find out what the problem is and resolve it so you're not taking your anger out on your partner.
If that “something else” is your relationship, don’t fall into the trap of staying because you hope it will magically get better.
Don't Use a Baby as a Weapon To Trap Your Partner
Don't have a baby to keep your partner invested in the relationship. Just don’t.
Unfortunately, many people fall into the "baby trap" when they think that getting pregnant will revive an already dead relationship. Don't put an agenda on an innocent child to try to save a relationship. Treat a baby with love and care instead of using them as a weapon to control your relationship troubles.
Having a Baby Won't Solve Your Problems
Having a baby won't solve your relationship problems.
Once a baby is in the picture, you and your partner share the responsibilities of taking care of the baby. By necessity, you spend less time with your partner because you're both taking care of the baby.
Less time with each other means less communication. For an already strained relationship, this only makes things worse.
Don't Assume Your Partner Stayed for You
If the pregnancy was intentional but not consensual, you'll never know if they stayed for you or the baby. Doubt isn’t a feeling that fosters love and trust.
Your partner should love you whether you two have a baby together or not. In truth, neither you nor your partner feels secure and happy when you have to second-guess why you two are in a relationship.
A Baby Won't Prevent Your Partner From Cheating
If your partner is dating you and another person, who's to say they'll stay with you because of a baby?
If your partner has a history of cheating, they won’t stop cheating once the new baby arrives. You're left to co-parent the baby alone when they leave. Even worse, the baby won’t have your partner’s full attention.
It's Hard To Raise a Baby
Your baby is dependent on you. You deal with changing diapers, having a disrupted sleep schedule, and feeding your newborn around the clock.
The responsibility of taking care of a baby is going to make everything more stressful if you and your partner are fighting, and the relationship is already rocky.
As the baby grows up, you and your partner need to collaborate maturely on how to raise them. You need to discuss schools, religions, and disciplinary matters. A child is a lifelong commitment, not a temporary assignment.
Don't Rush Into a Relationship After a Breakup
Don't get trapped in the idea you need to be in a relationship all the time, especially after you go through a breakup.
You fall into the trap of chasing love instead of learning to love yourself when you do this. Read below to understand why it’s a bad idea to jump into a new relationship when you’re fresh out of a breakup.
Learn Why the Relationship Didn't Work Out
Take some time on your own to reflect on the reasons the relationship didn't work out between you and your partner. If you and your ex didn't share the same interests, it's hard to build a relationship with no commonalities. Or maybe that first-date chemistry was unsustainable. Regardless of the reason, it’s important to take time to identify what went wrong.
Examining the relationship’s faults doesn’t mean you need to beat yourself up over what happened. Learn what caused the relationship to fail so you don’t fall into the same traps in your next one.
Give Yourself Time To Grieve
It's okay to take time for yourself to understand why you feel hurt and sad. Allow yourself time for this important process.
Sit with your thoughts and write your feelings in a journal about the breakup. Take time to read what you wrote to process the hurt. Another way to deal with grief is to talk to a trusted family member or friend about the relationship. If you don't have friends or family close by, talk to a licensed therapist or relationship coach.
As silly as it seems, you need to date yourself. Take yourself out to your favorite restaurant, pamper yourself with a massage, or go shopping at your favorite store. When you treat yourself to nice things, you understand what it means to make yourself feel good and are better able to ask this of your next partner.
Pampering yourself includes taking care of your physical health. Run in the park, take a Zumba class, or meditate. Focus on your health so you won’t fall into the trap of partnering with someone who doesn’t prioritize the same thing.
Cut Off Contact With Your Ex
Don't make contact with your ex because you won't heal; this just prolongs the hurt. Instead of talking to your ex, block their cell number. Unfollow them on social media, and don’t look up their profile pages to see what they're doing. Ignore them and instead, focus that attention on yourself.
Rather than worrying about what your ex is up to, fill your day with things you enjoy doing. Find hobbies you're interested in whether it's a painting class, a cooking club, or going out to new bars and clubs.
Once you find what you like, you feel happier and you're guaranteed to meet new acquaintances and friends. This strengthens you and keeps you from going back to someone who doesn’t make you happy.
Help Others Who Are in Need
Instead of wallowing in your pain, help others who are in need. When you help others who need assistance, you realize your problems aren't so bad. You get a boost of confidence and self-esteem because you feel accomplished. When you volunteer, you're helping people within your community to live more fulfilling lives.
When you give to others in a healthy way, you won't feel depressed and lonely. You're spending time and working with others who believe in similar causes and goals.
Many local non-profit organizations need your help. Some of these organizations even need help you can give from home.
Don't Buy Into the Myth of a Fairytale Relationship
Believing that your relationship should look like a fairytale is another common trap. You don't need to be with someone because they're rich and attractive to have a happy relationship. Healthy relationships aren’t perfect relationships.
Some Conflict Is Okay
While constant fighting isn’t good, some conflict is okay. When you don't speak up to your partner to avoid conflict, you create a wedge between the two of you. Not explaining why certain things bother you isn't right for your relationship. Your partner can't read your mind, and won't understand why you're upset if you don't tell them why.
In truth, communicating why you're angry and resolving the problem is a better option in the long run. Learn about each other’s communication styles.
Work through conflict and come to a compromise when you disagree.
A Relationship Isn’t a Fix-All
Don’t treat your relationship like a getaway car. A relationship won't distract you from the real problems in your life. Getting into a new relationship when you're struggling to pay bills, getting to a healthy weight, and fighting with your family won't magically make everything better.
Get to the root of the problems in your life before settling into a relationship. You need to be happy and whole before sharing a life with your partner.
You need to figure out how to solve your problems instead of bringing drama to a fresh relationship.
There's No Such Thing as the Perfect Partner
No one is perfect. Looking for the perfect person sets the relationship up to fail, and you end up hurt when your partner inevitably reveals their flaws.
Give your partner the benefit of the doubt if they're loving and understanding. Likewise, help them if they're struggling. You both bring valuable life experience to the relationship, so use it to lift each other up.
Have Common Interests With Your Partner
Find common interests to share with your partner to create a strong bond.
If you have a partner who enjoys the same hobbies as you, you'll feel happier and connected to them. Likewise, find someone you enjoy sharing your favorite activities with while building a strong foundation for the future. You both grow in the relationship as you learn from one another, even if you have some differences.
Here's why it's important to have common interests:
You Develop Healthy Routines
Develop healthy routines to enrich your lives. Make time to go to the gym every morning at a specific time if you and your partner are both fitness buffs. You'll both improve your physical fitness levels while maintaining a schedule.
Meal prep and make healthy foods together. When you eat nutritious foods to support your body functions, you feel better. Another healthy routine is to set a sleep schedule by going to bed with your partner at the same time every night. You feel rested when you wake up and ready to take on the day.
You Create a Support System
Build trust as you and your partner bond over common interests. When you're both doing the same activities with each other, you learn to communicate and problem-solve.
Communication and problem-solving are the building blocks needed for a healthy and resilient relationship. Once these components are established, you naturally turn to each other in times of support, creating trust.
You Learn Each Other's Differences
While it’s great to have the same interests and hobbies, having different interests in your relationship isn't always a bad thing.
If your partner is picky about food but you love exotic cuisines, go to your favorite restaurant and introduce them to new foods. Go to a canvas and wine sitting to make an art project, even if your partner struggles with art. They'll learn to relax and go at their own pace as they create something artistic.
Don’t forget to reciprocate and try out some of the things your partner loves.
Learn the Five Cs in a Relationship
Relationship experts believe in the five Cs: communication, compatibility, compromise, chemistry, and commitment. Read "The 5 C's of Every Healthy Relationship" to gain insight into cultivating a better relationship.
Here's how to instill each of these elements to have a happy and healthy relationship:
You need to communicate daily with your partner. Express to them your need for affection and affirmation each day.
Ask about how your partner's day went at work, and provide empathy if they're going through a rough time. Reciprocate feelings and emotions by talking about what is bothering you. As the relationship develops, you’ll need these communication skills to talk about your hopes for the future.
Compatibility goes with sharing the same interests, lifestyles, and beliefs. If you and your partner share the same ideals, you're compatible with one another.
You're both educated professionals who want careers in the medical field. You both practice Christianity and go to church regularly. You both want to move to the country because city life is too rushed. Discuss where you see your future going and set those plans into action.
A compromise is when two people give up a little of what they want so that they both get what they need.
Therefore, you need to meet your partner halfway when conflicts arise. Don't feel bad if you and your partner experience conflict because even the most compatible couples have arguments. If there's something specific you both fight about constantly, you both need to get to the root of the problem. Seek professional relationship counseling and be aware of what you can let go of to find compromise.
Attraction to your partner is key to having a good relationship. Without any physical or emotional chemistry, it’s hard to feel romantic love.
Communicate with your partner when your sexual needs and desires aren't met because good sex keeps a relationship fresh. You need to make time for one another to understand what both of your likes and dislikes are in the bedroom.
Commit to your partner by being there for them in times of need, even when those times are tough or inconvenient.
Every relationship goes through its ups and downs, but how you react to these challenges is key to having a strong relationship. Since relationships are hard work and require both parties to love and trust one another, you both work through life's problems one day at a time.
Build a Harmonious Relationship
Avoid common relationship traps which lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction in your love life. Your relationship will suffer if you feel desperate and lonely because you don’t take the time to learn why you feel and react the way you do.
Above all, remember that you don't need to be in a relationship to be happy or to prove your worth to society. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Cultivate strong self-esteem and love yourself before loving another person, and you’ll sidestep the most common relationship traps.