I study emotional responses in relationships and write about them to help others with their well-being and improve their self-awareness.
When a New Relationship Is Forming
Many couples I know ended new relationships because they failed to get to know one another and learn to appreciate their partner’s behavior.
That left them with the wrong assumption of what took place when quarrels occurred.
I learned some valuable lessons from similar experiences. I’ve had a couple of relationships that progressed quickly from the start, and misunderstandings got in the way of further progress.
With a new relationship that starts too fast, neither partner has learned to recognize what’s behind the actions of the other yet. People sometimes have an ulterior motive for their behavior.
Their response to events can be due to emotional baggage from a previous relationship or early childhood experiences. That can confuse their partner and cause doubt and uncertainty.
When a new relationship is forming, and the partners don’t know one another well enough, they may have warped notions of what took place whenever they disagree. They argue about an issue that troubles them because they each think of the events differently.
When partners give a relationship time to mature, they learn to understand how they relate to one another on a different level.1
Lust Alone Is Not Enough to Sustain a Relationship
The problem with a relationship that involves intense passion too soon is that one rarely has time to learn to appreciate their partner at an emotional level. Not enough time has passed yet to express how much they cherish and admire one another.
Early sensual and erotic involvement in a relationship will only make a couple feel close temporarily. A strong foundation of trust is needed for a lasting bond. In addition, mutual respect helps with communication to avoid misunderstandings.
Appreciating the positive qualities in one’s partner can help make a relationship secure. But that takes time to learn and requires a commitment to the relationship.
Too Many Early Conflicts Can Cast Doubt on a Relationship
Some people tend to give up quickly when problems or disputes occur, especially if the relationship didn’t mature yet. They overlook the positive experiences and dwell on the negative.
Couples in a new relationship need to learn to understand one another. They need to discover the background that makes each other function as they do.
The capability to understand an individual’s intentions takes time to develop. Before that is achieved, misunderstandings can hinder love and respect.
Partners haven’t had time yet to create a history of successful interactions. If too many conflicts occur near the beginning, partners might dwell on the negative encounters. That behavior could lead to a lack of confidence and cast doubt on the relationship.
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When one partner complains of being bothered due to something caused by miscommunication, the other may tend to bring up occasions where they were also upset. That doesn’t do any good for the success of the relationship.
On the contrary, it just antagonizes one another and creates bitter resentment. And that is unfortunate, since the entire problem stems from the inability to understand one another.
Lack of Empathy Makes It Difficult to Be Tolerant
One doesn’t always fully understand where their partner is coming from in the early stage of a relationship. Their feelings and mannerisms are based on lessons from previous experiences.
These behaviors are not known well enough yet by each other. Therefore, they are not able to have empathy and to understand what really is going on. So, it isn’t easy to be tolerant.
Low tolerance can stop the growth of a new relationship. It’s too easy to give up when something becomes frustrating. A single mistake either partner makes can ruin the potential for growth.2
Linguistic Nuances Can Cause Misunderstandings
It’s helpful to realize that actions speak louder than words. Only the actions show the true feelings one has, so it’s best to pay more attention to what one does rather than what one says.
Some people complain about what their partner says without considering the sentiment behind the words. How we use words to express our emotions is fundamental to communication.
Words can be misconstrued or taken out of context, especially when partners have not yet learned how the other functions on a verbal level. For example, even jokes can be taken literally when not understood to be in jest.
I had this trouble once with a friend who took me seriously when I made a joke in an email. Interestingly, when I mentioned that experience to a psychologist, he asked if I included LOL in the email.
I did not, and that might have helped make it apparent I was kidding.
When these misunderstandings occur, some words might be inferred as hurtful, when all along something completely different was meant.
Incorrectly presuming the meanings of a partner’s actions and behaviors can cause one to have hurt feelings too. So it’s essential to communicate and learn about a partner’s perspective on issues that may be negatively affecting a relationship.
How to Keep the Relationship Alive
Negotiation on topics that you might disagree with is crucial, and it may require compromise. If both partners genuinely have a commitment to the relationship, they will find the ability to look for solutions.
Trying to be flexible can usually help, and it's a necessary part of a lasting relationship—especially if values, beliefs, and goals are very different.3
Compromising may be difficult to achieve. A better solution might be a collaboration. I’ll tell you what I mean.
Partners need to be there for one another as team players. They should consider the following:
- Work on a common goal.
- Discuss what’s important.
- Learn one another’s intentions.
- Find a middle ground.
Once they do that, understanding differences in values and beliefs can be an acceptable compromise as long as both partners want the relationship to continue and flourish.
Love and Affection Changes Us
I learned that the presence of love and affection changes us. I have always realized that every relationship I’ve had has helped me become a better person.
As a relationship matures, we allow room for our perceptions to be changed. We grow with the newfound practices that we observe with our partner.
When a relationship is given a chance to mature, both partners learn to appreciate the values of one another. They question their own identity and allow themselves to learn from the differences.
They may even create a feeling of comfort for their partner. They begin to identify with the things their partner thinks is important.
They feel a certain amount of growth as they pick up little tidbits of their partner’s identity. They enjoy the process, and they feel it’s making them a better person.
Only when both partners learn the mindsets of each other can they indeed be comfortable with one another and grow together in a mature relationship. That takes time and requires acceptance of problematic issues that could be construed as annoying, especially if little is understood about the underlying matters.
When partners learn to recognize the quality of the relationship, they will be able to commit to a growing and loving relationship that includes more respect than just an attraction due to lust.
If they can hear each other and understand why the other is functioning as they do, they can achieve significant growth towards something beautiful.
Love is accepting disagreements as a meaningful part of the journey, not a hopeless dead end.
Once partners are in a deep, intimate relationship, they conduct themselves differently:
- They respect each other more.
- They accept differences without being judgmental.
- They understand their partners nuances.
- They protect one another.
Eventually, they feel they are on the same team. Each one has the other’s back. That can be a turning point leading to a progressive future together.
- Erika Boissiere. (May 12, 2021). “5 Misunderstandings That Will Cause Problems In Your Closest Relationships“ - EveryDayPower.com
- Maria Baratta Ph.D. (January 30, 2021). “Moving Too Fast Can Derail a Potential Relationship” - Psychology Today
- Sandra Knispel. (November 24, 2020). “What’s the secret ingredient that makes a happy couple or family?” University of Rochester
© 2021 Glenn Stok