I’m no relationship expert but I have learned a thing or two about how to make long term relationships last. Before you read this post, I want you to reflect on yourself. Ask yourself honestly, if your relationships never work out, could it be that you are your own worst enemy?

If you’re not single by choice, your ego could be the reason you’re struggling to find a mate. Your ego will make you prideful and stubborn. Believing that you’re never wrong and that you deserve to be treated a certain way, even though you don’t even treat people in that manner.  Prideful people always want to teach but can’t be taught anything. They also tend to live in a state of denial about their behavior.

*Disclaimer: this post may hit a nerve or trigger some defensive behavior. I ask that you open your mind and push past it. Identifying your relationship patterns will greatly help you stop making the same mistakes again and again.

#1: Settling for a situationship when you want an exclusive relationship

This is a slippery slope topic for me. My boyfriend Hansome and I were in a situationship for nearly 2 years before we became boyfriend and girlfriend. If you haven’t heard of this term, a situationship is essentially a relationship that hasn’t been defined with an official label. Most of my friends thought I was crazy for sticking by him for so long as “friends.” Honestly, I doubted my choice as well. Our situationship was a roller coaster as most are. But my intuition kept telling me it was the right thing to do. In my case, I ended up becoming official with the love of my life and moving in with him a couple months later.

That’s not the norm. Situationship’s usually suck because over time someone “catches feelings” and then desires more from the relationship. Once emotions build, being in a situationship gets complicated. You start to feel rejected because the person doesn’t want you fully, you start to question everything, and begin to feel inadequate. Most of us spend way to much time with the person we’re dating hoping for an ending that probably won’t happen. There’s so much gray area. Can I introduce him as someone I’m dating? Is he seeing other people? Does he want me to be his girlfriend one day? I could go on forever with all the burning questions we often think about when it comes to being in a situationship. Unless you’re willing and happy to wait and see where this relationship goes, let it go.

#2 Being a man’s “interpreter”

You’re not a mind reader and neither are your friends. The worst habit we all have is assuming. Hansome & I have had so many arguments over what we thought each other meant by what was said. Only to find out once we had the tough conversations and opened up that we were comprehending each other’s messages wrong.  Communication is the most vital component to a relationship. Without clear communication, your relationship will remain surface level. Listen to what the person you’re seeing says and please ladies, take it at face value. Don’t convince yourself that he’ll change his mind or that he didn’t really mean it when he said he doesn’t want a relationship.

Many men don’t open up and connect more with their partner, because we don’t allow them to express exactly how they feel. I remember being so fragile and insecure in a past relationship to the point where I would cry and become argumentative, before my boyfriend at the time could finish his sentence. I can only imagine how hard it is to open up with someone when they’re interpreting what you’re going to say and getting overly emotional before you can say how you honestly feel. Don’t go into conversations with a significant other assuming you know everything they’re going to say, don’t talk over them or interpret them—listen then respond when appropriate.

#3 Resenting a man for not being what you aren’t either

Next time you write out a list of all the qualities you want in a man, do a self assessment and make sure you also fit that criteria. If you want him to be financially stable, question if you are. If you want him to be working towards his dreams/goals, make sure you are too. Before jumping into something new, make sure you have healed from your past relationships and have taken some time to be happy being alone. How can you expect someone to love you and give you what you desire, if you don’t love yourself and know what you want. Your partner will never complete you, sis. If you’re not self aware and fulfilling yourself, no one else can do that for you. You shouldn’t be choosing to get into a relationship with a man just because your happiness is dependent on him. Your sense of happiness shouldn’t rely on being in a relationship with someone. When you’re working on yourself and are sure of who you are, you’ll attract the right person. That’s how Hansome and I found each other, we were both on a self growth journey. Not knowing who you are and what you want will get you into a relationship with the wrong person.

#4 Refusing to compromise

For the super independent women out there like me, this one is tough. Men love to take care of us. While it sounds sweet and like the ideal situation, for an independent woman, it’s difficult to let someone do things for you because it may feel like you’re compromising your values. Let him help you out with your problems every now and then, drop you off to work or walk on the outside of the sidewalk, so he feels like he’s protecting you. It will make him feel needed and important. I’m not saying be a damsel in distress, but don’t act so independent that he starts to feel useless because he will become disinterested. Also, do your best to compromise with him on activities you do together. You shouldn’t only watch your shows or eat at your favorite restaurants. Even if you don’t love all the things he likes to do, engage in some of the activities he likes. Eventually you may find yourself watching superhero movies and enjoying it, like I do now.

#5 Not communicating how you feel and what you want

You should always speak with your “friend” first before seeking outside opinions. At the end of the day, you and the person you’re dating are the decision makers. NOTHING is obvious in a relationship. It’s important to speak up when you feel uncomfortable, speak up when you want something specific, call him out when he’s being inconsistent or leaves you on read. Tell him exactly how you feel so its clear and you build a relationship that values effective communication. Most people want to avoid conflict and are afraid of being vulnerable because of the fear of rejection. I understand that feeling but think it is B.S. What’s so fearful about rejection? Like if someone tells you they aren’t interested in being with you, will you die? Or will it hurt temporarily and then you’ll get over it. I don’t want to live with what if’s and I don’t want you to do that either. Take your shot, you’ll be glad you did when you’re 90 years old.

#6 Believing your female friends know more than your male friends—about men

We really have to stop relying on our group chat to interpret why the person we’re dating is acting a certain way. Most of your girlfriends will romanticize the issue and not be fully honest because they don’t want to hurt our feelings. Or they’ll project their own bitter feelings and be super negative. I recommend you start paying attention to who is giving you relationship advice. If it’s someone who’s never been in a long term relationship, I urge you to consult with someone who has. Also, lean on your male friends for advice. 9 times of 10, they will give it to you straight. They understand the male brain better then we do.

#7 Comparing your relationship to others

#Couplegoals is one of the most dangerous hashtags on social media. Social media is the highlight reel of someone’s lives. People rarely show the arguments and issues in their relationships on social media. No matter how much you think you know or how many pictures you see, no one knows what’s truly going on in a relationship. Only the people involved know what’s really going on. Comparing yourself to other couples on social media or in real life is pointless and it will drive you crazy.  It’s one thing to feel inspired and admire a couple. It’s another thing to compare every little thing. That’ll have you set up for disappointment, comparing yourself to a facade. Focus on improving your situation and appreciating what you have.