"Relationships are a piece of cake," said no one ever.
Let's face it: as much as we all adore a good love story, real relationships aren't quite like the beloved Disney fairy tales or any other dreamed-up Hollywood romance, for that matter. They're messy and complicated and require lots of hard work and patience. But you already knew that. And although mistakes will be made throughout any romantic journey — because hello, we are only human — there are a number of them that can be avoided when trying to achieve your own happily ever after.
1. Radiating a cold shoulder
Simply put: radiating a cold shoulder toward your SO does nothing but waste time and energy and create unnecessary frustration. Although relationships would be much easier if we were all mind readers, unfortunately that's not the case. Therefore, it is critical in any partnership to regularly voice concerns. By speaking up instead of staying silent or walking away, you and your partner will have a deeper understanding of each other's needs and will essentially prevent built-up anger and/or resentment.
2. Threatening the "B" word
When tensions flare and the claws of emotions come out, many of us have a tendency to say things we don't really mean. But threatening to break up during a heated argument will only do harm to your relationship. Once these words have been said, guards will immediately go back up and the trust you two share will inevitably start to crack. So whether or not you have to grit your teeth and count to five (or 10 . . . or 100), hold your tongue, because without a firm foundation of trust, no relationship will ever withstand the test of time.
3. Comparing your relationship with someone else's
There's no doubt Theodore Roosevelt was onto something when he stated, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Whether you're comparing for good or evil, using another relationship as a measuring stick for your own is a dangerous habit and should be avoided at all costs. Remember: looks can be deceiving.
4. Allowing laziness to overstay its welcome
Once the lovey-dovey "honeymoon phase" of a relationship starts to fade, affection is usually the first thing that gets thrown to the side. But there's nothing that will sink a relationship faster than becoming lazy with romance. See, we as human beings need touch and interaction. In fact, our loving feelings depend on it. So for the sake of love, don't let laziness overstay its welcome. Hug hello. Kiss goodbye. I promise even the smallest, most random gestures will make a difference.
5. Forgetting to carve out time for play
Life gets busy. I get it. But forgetting to carve out time for play is a slippery slope, as having fun together is one of the main ingredients in any happy relationship. That being said, play up the silliness and prioritize the belly laughs. It will be these precious memories and inside jokes that will anchor your bond when the going gets rough.
6. Taking your SO for granted
We all know the saying, "You don't know what you have until it's gone." Yet, we continue to take for granted the very people that deserve our utmost gratitude. Why? Well, we forget to stop and think what life would be like if we did lose those loved ones. And when we do contemplate this scenario, it's usually a little too late.
My advice? Express love and express it often. Don't wait for Thanksgiving or the holiday season to give thanks. Show appreciation on a daily basis. Commit to noticing — and acknowledging — even the smallest gestures with a form of gratitude. Not only will this make you and your SO happier individuals, but it will strengthen your relationship, too.