It’s a fact that a relationship can’t be successful without both parties putting in some effort. What’s annoying is that by trying to boost your bond, you might actually be creating a few habits that can chip away at it, leaving both of you less satisfied. We went to relationship expert Rachel Sussman, L.C.S.W., for input on a few seemingly good relationship actions you’ll want to take out of rotation.
It seems like your BF and BFF being one and the same is the ultimate relationship goal, but it can actually make you both unhappy. This is especially true when you’re trying to relate to him in a way you normally would your best girlfriend. “When you expect your boyfriend or husband to always be naturally empathetic and know the right thing to say, you’re ignoring that men’s and women’s processes are very different,” says Sussman. So when you vent to him about an annoying coworker, you might just want a best friend who will listen and say, “I’m so sorry, that sucks.” Instead, your guy is more likely to go into fix-it mode, which can lead to you becoming frustrated, him getting defensive, and a huge blowup in the end. Of course, that’s not to say you can’t bring these things up with him! Just that if he’s your only confidante, you risk becoming too reliant.
Sometimes, surprising a guy is the most exhilarating thing ever, whether it’s bringing home a pack of his favorite beer or scoring front-row tickets to his favorite band’s concert. But too much of this can make a guy feel smothered, especially in the beginning. “It’s always nice to think about and surprise your partner, but it shouldn’t be over and over and over again,” says Sussman. “It feels over the top and might lead him to feel like he just can’t keep up.”
Of course, you should care about him having a good time, too, but make sure not to put his needs above your own. Sometimes, women feel like sex is all about dudes’ pleasure, and that’s so not the case. “People might not bring things up because they don’t want to rock the boat, but it’s very important to make sure you’re on the same page,” says Sussman. “Couples should talk about how happy they each are with their sex lives and whether there’s anything they would do differently.” Just make sure you have these kind of check-ins during non-sexy moments to avoid any potential ego-bruising.
If he’s looking to climb the corporate ladder, then by all means, cheer him on. But you might also be tempted to help him spruce up his life even if he’s totally happy with it, and that could upset him. “A lot of women can focus too much on a few things that are wrong with someone instead of everything that’s right,” says Sussman. It’s a really fine line between encouraging him to be and do better and making him think he doesn’t measure up. Err on the side of caution.
Isn’t it so sweet and cozy to become so intertwined you can complete each other’s sentences? Sure. But can that potentially destructive? Absolutely. When you let one part of your life be all-consuming, it’s only natural that other aspects will fall by the wayside. “You might be ignoring other parts of your life and yourself,” says Sussman. “You won’t be as interesting to each other, and it might get boring.” Plus, wrapping up your entire identity in someone who, for whatever reason, might not always be there is pretty dangerous. “I want relationships to be interdependent, not codependent,” says Sussman.
While it’s obviously a good thing to form a strong relationship with his friends and family, don’t mistake chumminess with his mom or other loved ones for an invitation to spill the beans on things he’d rather you keep under wraps. “The mistake here comes in sharing too much information, especially if you’re with someone who’s a private person,” says Sussman. Even though it’s nice to forge a strong bond with the other most important lady in his life, be careful. “I remember one instance where a wife told her mother-in-law how much they were paying for an apartment,” says Sussman. “The mother-in-law then called her son, the husband, and told him they couldn’t afford that. He was furious at his wife.” Bottom line: Boundaries are crucial.