Avoiding Habit in Your Relationships
Habit aren’t bad in themselves, but when they’re used irresponsibly, they can become very damaging indeed.
But we tend to think of habits as being things like smoking, eating when we shouldn’t, or biting our nails. What we often overlook is how any behavior can become habitual.
And likewise, we forget how any interaction can become habitual. And how habit can end up creeping into all aspects of your life: including your relationships!
Habits and Romantic Partners
The early days of your relationship are incredibly important. Not only is this an important opportunity to get to know each other, but it is also the time during which you will be laying the ground rules and testing each other’s boundaries.
In other words, during these early days of your relationship, you will be defining the format and the nature of the relationship going forward.
And this is when habits and precedents can set in.
On a very basic level, if you think about taking your partner to work in the morning by car, then you might want to reconsider that. It seems like a nice gesture, but if you do it once, then you need to potentially be ready to do it all the time.
Because if you do it once, then you will almost certainly do it again. And once you’ve done it four times, the question becomes: why aren’t you always doing it? Now, when you don’t do it, it seems like you are actively being lazy, like you are actively caring less and like you are punishing your partner.
Therefore, an expectation is set and that becomes the new normal.
The same thing happens in our other relationships outside of romance. Let’s say that your grandma gives you $50 every year for your birthday. It’s now immensely hard for her to drop that number!
The problem is that this habitual behavior and expectation can go beyond smaller gestures and end up impacting on the very fabric of your relationship. For instance, if you let one person make the majority of the big decisions, then that will become normal and you will find yourself in ‘second place’.
We all want to be consistent. We all have an urge to come across as someone who is predictable and congruent. And so, we end up trapped in cages of our own making.
How to Change Habits
With all this in mind, what should you takeaway from this?
Firstly, you should avoid doing anything once if you wouldn’t be willing to do it forever. And if you do do it the once, then make sure you explain that you can’t always do it and why.
But if it’s too late for that, then just recognize that it is okay to change your mind. It is okay to be unpredictable at times. And you shouldn’t just ‘go along’ with something – no matter how long it has been happening.
There are always polite and sensitive ways to raise any issue. And if you don’t speak up, it will only get worse.