Judging from the popularity of Tinder, Bumble and many other dating sites, it’s easy to see that the desire to couple up remains strong anywhere in the world.
With just one swipe, you could find a match and, if the sparks fly, jump into a new relationship. Easy, isn’t it?
But to make that relationship work and last the distance? That’s a different story.
For many of us, being in a relationship is tough. More so if you’ve got certain personality traits that really get in the way of teamwork and relationship stability.
In this article, I’ll share ten personality traits that make being in a relationship harder than it should be.
Let’s dive in!
I’ll start with one of the reasons why I myself found it hard to be in a relationship in the past. I was a huge overthinker, and it made my life harder than it should’ve been.
See, even when I had no reason to, I would analyze every text, every word my partner said. I would think about what his glances meant, or about the long pauses between the time I sent my messages to the time he replied back.
I don’t know why I did it, really. I only know that it made me emotionally exhausted. Unnecessarily so.
What’s even worse is that my tendency to overthink often clouded my judgment. I’d make decisions based on the imaginary scenarios I spun up in my head. I’d feel jealous when there was no need to be.
Eventually, that created other issues that would lead to a breakup.
If you have a tendency to overthink like me, I suggest taking a step back and giving yourself a moment to breathe and reset. Recognize overthinking for what it is – a form of self-sabotage.
It takes a lot of mindfulness to catch yourself in the act of overthinking, though. You need to watch yourself and consider if what you’re thinking is truly warranted and objective or if it’s just based on your fears.
2) Low self-esteem
Unfortunately, according to psychologists, overthinking is tied to low self-esteem.
At its core, low self-esteem means you don’t usually see yourself in a positive light, whether that’s in terms of your abilities, value, or place in the world.
Though it’s a widespread issue, it can really mess with various parts of our lives, relationships being one of them.
See, when you don’t love yourself, finding love with someone else becomes an uphill battle.
It can make you accept less than you deserve and question your partner’s motives constantly.
As a former overthinker, I’ve obviously been there. I’ve felt like I wasn’t good enough, which was why I had so many fears that led me to overthink.
Beyond that, I would accept whatever crumbs of affection came my way.
Did it do me any good to settle for all that? No, eventually, those relationships crumbled.
Because no matter how accommodating a partner you are, if you don’t really value yourself…the other person won’t see your value, either.
3) Emotional unavailability
The curious thing about having low self-esteem is that you tend to people-please, and yet, you’re emotionally unavailable. Pretty ironic, huh?
The problem here is, you’re afraid to show all of you – all your emotions and messiness – for fear of being rejected.
So, you might be outwardly agreeable, you might be the most caring partner ever, but you’ve got emotional walls all around you.
And you might think you’re fooling your partner, but you probably aren’t. An astute partner would feel that barrier, especially if they’re sincere in wanting to connect with you. In getting to know the real you.
Given enough time and you’re still unwilling to break those walls down, the other person might feel frustrated.
Real talk – a strong relationship is as much about emotional intimacy as it is about physical intimacy.
So, if you want your relationship to work, take that chance and be real. The right person will see all of you and love you just the same.
4) Fear of commitment
Speaking of fears brings me to another one – the fear of commitment.
It’s so pervasive that, at its most extreme, there’s actually a clinical term for it: gamophobia.
Fear of commitment has any one of the following at its root:
- Past painful breakups
- Attachment issues
- Fear of abandonment
- Fear of missing out
- Fear of being with the wrong person
Strangely, having this fear doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love your partner enough. You could be so into them, but you’re hesitant to explore a future with them.
If this is an issue you struggle with, it’s worth finding out what’s causing it. A good therapist might help you sift through all those fears and concerns and provide you with ways to overcome them.
On the flip side, being overly impulsive can be just as damaging.
Does this sound familiar to you? You meet someone, sparks fly, and before you know it, you’re planning your wedding on the second date.
Now, some couples are lucky enough to get it right on their “love at first sight” scene. But more often than not, relationship-wise, leaping before looking gets you nothing but a bruised heart.
Because you’re acting on a whim instead of taking your time and truly assessing compatibility. That’s important in making a relationship last.
So, if you’re prone to letting your intense feelings get the better of you, remember to pause and calm down. Give it a little time. Do your due diligence like a first-time dad testing out a family van.
What about too much due diligence? Is that a thing?
Yes! It’s called perfectionism.
Striving for the best is great in many aspects of life, but when it comes to relationships, perfectionism can do more harm than good.
It makes you nitpick every little thing your partner does. It makes you want them to be perfect.
I had one such partner – he had the highest expectations for me, and would constantly point out all the things I was doing “wrong”.
After a few months, I’d had enough. All the nitpicking had sucked the joy out of our relationship. Doused the passion I felt for him.
If you want a relationship to work, learn to accept flaws – both yours and your partner’s. It’s good to have high standards, but make sure they’re realistic. Otherwise, you’re in for a lot of disappointment.
Just as being perfectionist can ruin a relationship, so can too much competitiveness.
A little competition is healthy – for instance, my husband and I enjoy game nights where we go head-to-head in everything from board games to video games. It definitely spices up our relationship.
But too much competitiveness can create tension and turn an otherwise loving relationship into a war zone.
When does competitiveness become “too much”? When it creeps into aspects of your relationship where it doesn’t belong.
Such as who has the bigger paycheck, who does more chores, who’s the better parent…these are areas where you should be functioning as a team. As a cohesive, well-oiled unit.
For your relationship to succeed, cultivate a teamwork mentality. A win for your partner should feel like a win for you, too – and your relationship as well.
Which brings me to my next point…
8) Control issues
A strong team is made up of members who collaborate and appreciate each other’s perspectives.
So, if you’d rather be the one with all the say in your relationship, that could be a reason why being in a relationship is hard for you.
Because nobody wants to be with someone who controls every aspect of the relationship, from trivial matters like which movie to watch to the heavy stuff like where to live and which friends to keep.
It’s simply suffocating.
Learn to let go and share the load. Like I said earlier, relationships thrive when there’s a give-and-take spirit in it.
Give and take. That’s how relationship dynamics should be. Because that’s what life calls for.
In case you need a reminder, compromise is crucial to the success of a relationship. So, if you tend to dig your heels in, life would feel twice, maybe even thrice, as hard as it should be.
Because then you won’t be able to solve conflicts the healthy way. And you won’t make your partner feel respected. According to therapist Claudia de Llano in VeryWellMind:
“When we compromise, we validate our partner’s feelings, needs, desires, and aspirations. We are showing them that we respect them, their needs matter, and that their point of view is valuable – even though it’s different from our own.”
Trust me, flexibility boosts the health of your relationship. And ultimately, it feels so much better than getting your way all the time but pushing your partner away in the process.
10) Poor communication skills
Finally, have you taken a look at your communication style? Maybe it’s a simple matter of improving your communication skills to make being in a relationship easier.
It’s no secret that communication is a key aspect of healthy relationships. You might have the best intentions and the purest heart, but if you can’t get that across, you could end up being misunderstood.
Which then leads to unnecessary conflict.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some quick tips:
- Forget mind games. Say what you mean, mean what you say. You can’t go wrong with clarity and directness.
- Listen mindfully.
- Pay attention to non-verbal cues like tone, body language, and facial expressions.
- Pick the right time and place for difficult conversations.
- Be open and honest. It’s as simple as that.
Good communication, as well as making a relationship work in general, begins with self-awareness. After all, you can only change what you can identify.
Hopefully, this list can be your first step towards that.