1. Casually thrown hurtful words
Words are like bullets. Once you pull the trigger, you can’t take them back. You can express remorse or say you are sorry, but that is not the same.
We all make mistakes. We say hurtful things to the ones we love the most. But if this is a normal habit — like taking care of the laundry — it is a red signal.
You have to weigh your words carefully. Think before saying something out loud. You may say something that can hurt another person forever.
I know this personally because my mom still remembers some hurtful words my dad said to her like many years ago.
“Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some words that don’t mean to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.” — Rachel Wolchin
2. Not willing to be vulnerable
The first 6 months of my relationship with my boyfriend was not a real one. I say, not real, because you cannot love another without knowing the real person.
I never showed him who I really was. I kept me zipped up. Well hidden. He kept asking me to open up. The person who interacted with him was not me. I was pretending to be someone I was not.
One day, I couldn’t keep me in.
I wanted to open up. Being vulnerable scared me more than anything else at that point. But there is no love without being vulnerable.
I put my head in my hands and cried. There she was. The real me. He saw me. He heard me. He understood the fact that I was scared to love and trust again.
“The origin of the word “courage” comes from the word “cour”, which means heart, and it means to completely share your story with your whole heart.” Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability
3. Inability to be responsible
Look, saying you love someone is good. It is even great to hear it every day. But there is something more that shows your love in action.
Take responsibility. For your emotions. Be accountable. Follow through what you say you are going to do. If I don’t do what I say I will do, I am not being responsible in my relationship.
It is unbelievably easy to make excuses and to blame others. If it isn’t your fault then you couldn’t change it, meaning that you are a victim of the world around you and you will not have to put in any work.
A lack of responsibility causes you to become depressed with every single negative event. Nothing is in your control, meaning every time something bad happens you are helpless and will just sit in the corner and cry.
Take responsibility for the way you feel, the kind of relationship you have and where you want to take it. It is better to believe everything is in your power than to believe nothing is.
4. Lack of self-awareness
We blame our partner for the way we are feeling. Because we don’t take a minute to ask why we are feeling this way or that way. We blame everything outside of us for the way we are feeling.
This keeps us safe. This keeps us in a buffer. As long as there is this buffer, we are not going to confront ourselves.
The way you interpret things and the way they actually are often not the same. And to understand that, you need to be self-aware. Even though it is not easy, it is necessary.
I like the words of Anais Nin,
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
I would also like to add another insightful quote,
“Before I ask you to sit with me, I must be able to sit with myself. Before I ask you to accept my pain, I have to accept my pain myself. Before I ask you to love me, I have to be madly in love with myself.” –C. Thoth
If you don’t, you are going to be a burden on the ones you love the most.
5. Lack of clear communication
Couples who have not learned the value of communicating clearly cannot possibly be happy. I don’t want to wonder what he feels about our next weekend getaway. I don’t want to worry about how he feels about the food my mom sent for us.
Irony, cutting remarks and being passive-aggressive are not sexy. They are not even cool. I have nothing against sarcasm but it is not intelligence.
Instead of expending energy trying to figure out what he thinks and feels, I would prefer that I talk to him. I prefer clear communication.
6. Being possessive
“If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love.” — Hanh Nhat Thich
Everything you love is free.
If someone loves me like a possession, I would long for my freedom. This longing would be so powerful that it would overpower any love that is left.
Loving someone by trying to hold that person tightly to your chest would accomplish the opposite of what love is supposed to be.
All these would accomplish the same result. You would wilt, languish, and be severed from all the things that make you feel alive.
“The best relationships of any kind — romantic or otherwise — are the ones that encourage us, expand us, inspire us, rather than the ones that shrink, contain, diminish, entrap or shackle us.” — Dushka Zapata
7. Keeping secrets
That does not mean I want or need to know everything. But some things should not be kept from your partner.
My close friend lost her mind when she found out her fiancé was keeping a big secret. Like the fact that he is planning to go to the United States for his Masters.
Keeping something as important as that one is not cool. She is not going to be able to trust him again. I have never understood the attraction in mysteries in men. I like open books. I think mystery and obscurity are overrated. I am open about my own life. The times I have kept things from him are also the times I have made catastrophic mistakes.
8. No boundaries and lack of respect for your boundaries
I want to be with you all the time twenty-four hours a day. I know I just met you but I want to spend every minute with you.
That is not healthy. In your relationships, the arrow that points straight to poor boundaries is you feel something and expect your feelings to impact the actions of another person.
I am sorry to say this. But you cannot dictate the actions of another person even if your intention is all wrapped up in love.
Poor boundaries aren’t evil. Most of the time they don’t imply ill intent. They imply a disconnect with yourself.
You are responsible for you.
The other person — even if you love him the most — is responsible for himself.
Anything that breaches this very basic frontier between where you are and others begin is a display of poor boundaries.
9. Not putting in the work
When you love someone…
You’re not supposed to leave your love on its own. You’re supposed to show your love with your actions. You’re not supposed to be passive.
“He knows I love him” should not be your defense. You’re supposed to see your love in the same way you thrive to achieve any kind of goal in your life. You’re supposed to connect, communicate, be there, go the extra mile, defend the one you love at any cost, be disappointed at the one you love, engage in real conversations.
You’re not supposed to just believe in the sunshine.
What about the dark days? What about when you disagree with the one you love — on important things? Anybody who says “love” is just full of sunshine is wrong. You do not always agree with yourself. So, it is natural to disagree with somebody else that is not you — even if that person is the one you love.
What is important is what you do about your disagreement. If you tell me that you close the door and turn your back on your disagreement, I will not believe you when you tell me that you love.
Get up from the couch and ask the one you love for an explanation and listen with an open heart.
You’re meant to put in the work.
Even for love. Especially for love. You’re supposed to see “love” as a plant you’ve planted in your garden. You see to its development. You take care of it. You cherish it. When you see a weed, you take out the weed with your own hands. You do that because you know it has only one purpose and one purpose only –to destroy your precious plant from the foundation.
Your love is like that plant.
If it is left alone, it will be attacked from different directions: you become strangers, you take the one you love for granted, you lose the one you love (I’m not talking about death here), you watch TV together but you’re not really together, you become silent or passive-aggressive rather than talking clearly and directly, you will let the outside world (that could be your mother-in-law or a frenemy) destroy your relationship.
Love is not supposed to wait for you every morning and say to you: “Hello, I’m here”. You’re supposed to show your love through your actions. Again and again. Every single day.
In the beautiful words of Kris Gage,
“Love is a choice, not an emotion. Love is an action, not a feeling. Love is deliberate, not passive. Love is not something that happens “to you”. Love is something you do.”