Navigating relationships can sometimes seem like walking through a battlefield.  You try to make it through safely, but often run the risk of stepping on a landmine that could cause significant damage – to both yourself and your partner. So, consider the following possible relationship mistakes and some thoughts on how to avoid them.

1. Never Rely on Your Partner to “Complete” You

The number one mistake people make in relationships is losing their identity.  Without two separate “I’s,” there can be no “we.” A strong, well-developed identity in both parties is a key component to a secure relationship.

2. Don’t Discuss Your “Skeletons” Too Soon

The first few months of relationships are crucial; this is the time you are establishing a firm foundation for the partnership to thrive. You don’t want to make the mistake of prematurely revealing deeply personal information.  That level of intimacy should be saved for when the “we” is more securely rooted.

3. Don’t Focus Too Heavily on the Negatives

Not everything your partner says or does will sit well with you. The key to maintaining a happy, healthy relationship is not harping on those shortcomings. See your partner as a whole person, recognizing the things you find endearing, as well as the things you see as negative.

4. Never Assume the Worst

Moments will arise when your judgment about your partner will be put to the test. Don’t be too quick to jump to conclusions. Like you, your partner is imperfect and deserves the benefit of the doubt.

5. Don’t Rain on Your Partner’s Parade

It is impossible for your “I” and your partner’s “I” to be perfectly compatible all the time. You may not like some of the differences in attitudes and interests that exist between you and your partner. Keep in mind, however, that a stable partnership is based on each person’s ability to be supportive of those differences, even when it takes them out of their comfort zone.

6. Remember to Communicate

Silence is not always safe. Don’t assume you and your partner see things in the same way, or that your partner can read your mind. Take ownership of what is yours and communicate it honestly and directly. Where differences exist, use good conflict resolution skills to resolve them.

7. Don’t Allow Your Past to Dictate Your Future

History has a way of repeating itself unless one mindfully makes changes.  Take an honest look at your previous relationship mistakes so that you can avoid repeating them. This means confronting your fears and dependencies, and not looking to your partner to take responsibility for what is yours.

Keep in mind that building a strong “we” is a work in progress that is rich with discoveries and always filled with challenges. Following the above roadmap will help you to avoid some of the bumps in the road and disarm the behaviors that can undermine your relationship.

Author of the recently released book, “Who Am I Without My Partner? Post-Divorce Healing and Rediscovering Your SELF,” Deborah Hecker, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist with over 35 years of private practice experience. She received her Master’s Degree from Columbia University and her Ph.D. from The Union Institute. In addition, she is certified as a psychoanalyst and has extensive training in the following areas: addiction counseling, grief counseling, collaborative practice and mediation. For more information, please visit
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