Last week I explained to you a bit about how dysfunctional relationships sometimes get idolized on TV or in movies and the fact that it drives me a little nuts. We also discussed why keeping score and valuing jealousy in a relationship are bad habits. Continuing that line of thought here are 3 other big habits you should try to avoid.
You’re probably familiar with the term trophy-wife/husband. It’s usually a term used to describe a spouse who you’ve only married because they make you look good (like trophies). In contrast, pride-taking is the act of treating somebody like a trophy.
When we date people, we can allow our own egos and self-esteem get tangled in the affairs of others. You see this with parents when they become obsessed with their kids’ succeeding. In dating, we see our significant other as an extension of ourselves. We become worried about them making a bad impression on others or not seeming as awesome as they should.
Pride-taking is dangerous, because you are putting your self worth and personal happiness into another person that you can not control. Despite this, you will try and control anyway. A huge amount of your energy will be spent arguing and getting your significant other to do things they hate. This will make you miserable and you’ll find yourself constantly wrestling with the self esteem issues that arise from this issue.
The best way to cure pride-taking is to shift your focus back to you. Identify areas where you tend to feel unconfident and work on them. When you are confident in yourself you can let go of what others think of you. You don’t need others to tell you “you are awesome” if you already know you are awesome. This philosophy will in turn extend to the loved ones around you– it won’t matter if others know they are awesome because you know.
You might remember way back when I wrote an article on down-playing. This is the same concept but for dating, you date somebody that seems nice, but you start finding wrong thing after wrong with them and you break up.
Flaw hunting happens because of one of two circumstances. The first is commitment issues. You are gun-shy and afraid of getting too deep with a relationship, but despite this you still feel compelled to date anyway. Since, you aren’t emotionally in a space to be dating anyone for any long period of time, you start to subconsciously sabotage the relationship.
The second cause of flaw hunting happens when you compare yourself to your significant other and feel inadequate. Human beings tend to struggle with facing insecurities and instead we tend to find external solutions to internal problems. This results in us identifying flaws in others that make us feel better about ourselves.
Personal note: Being pretty emotionally functional and healthy in relationships, I can tell you being on the receiving end of this coping mechanism sucks– you spend the entire relationship dealing with somebody constantly trying to chip away your confidence and point out your shortcomings.
How you address flaw hunting varies depending on the reason you are doing it:
If you are struggling with commitment, chances are you have some belief that all or most relationships end badly, and that belief needs to be changed. To do this, I recommend checking out the process part 1 and 2. It discusses how to identify and change beliefs allowing you to pursue healthy relationship.
For the second cause, emotional inadequacy, you need to stop playing the comparing game. Instead of comparing yourself, recognize the person you are dating is on your team and that you want a strong person on your team. Instead of focusing on how they may be better than you, focus on how that person can help you improve yourself and back you up on your own endeavors.
Like with jealousy, we enjoy it when people need us. Being needed makes you feel important and can boost self esteem. Who doesn’t enjoy being that knight in armor or Florence Nightingale ready to save the day? It makes you feel powerful, important, and loved.
Also, like jealousy, neediness comes from emotional insecurity and the more neediness you have, the less stable your relationship will be. In bad cases, these relationships become incredibly one-sided. One person spends all their time and energy caring for the other, and in time, they can become burnt out, tired, stressed, and even resentful for all the time and effort they have to commit. The receiver for all this care also suffers because they lose their ability to be emotionally independent and constantly need reassurance that their partner won’t leave them.
If you value neediness or dependency in a partner, chances are you are a caretaker and you struggle with having too much empathy. To deal with this I recommend reading my article on caretaking.