Everything I know about relationships, I’ve had to teach myself. And, it hasn’t been easy because, in order to learn, I had to accept that there was a lot that I didn’t know. I am 32 years old, not yet married, and I’ve had my share of failed relationships. And, to be quite honest, a couple of them failed because of me. I had unrealistic expectations for my unions and I allowed my fantasies to cloud my judgment.

I had grown tired of the man controlling everything and I wanted some of that control for myself. I wanted to have a relationship on my terms, in a manner where I felt the most comfortable. And, if he couldn’t make it so, well I was on my way out.

I had felt pain before and I was in no hurry for repeats. I was so focused on avoiding being hurt that I seldom let go. I held onto my vulnerability like it was my last breath; needless to say, that didn’t work for me. Luckily, I started taking notes and I realized there were 5 mistakes I was making in my relationships that ultimately led to their demise. I later learned that other women were doing the same thing.

Expecting him to read your mind

Don't expect your partner to be a psychic in your relationships

Photo: Comedy Central

My years of relationship experience have taught me that the probability of your boo being a mind reader is slim to none. I just realized that there was never a man on the psychic network commercials. That should be proof in itself that this expectation is unrealistic. If there is something you want, need, or are dying to know, speak up.  Chances are, you and he aren’t thinking the same things, so hoping he will say what you’re thinking is a setup.

I know you’ve seen the shows where they finish each other sentences, and yes it looks cool but it’s TV, not real. Instead of fixating on fictional relationships, open yourself up to the real one that you’re in.

I discovered that I wanted my mate to guess what I was thinking because it allowed me to keep control of my feelings.  Sharing what I was thinking made me vulnerable and subject to rejection, no one wants that. However, I realized that I was putting pressure on him to exhibit powers that he didn’t have. I was setting our relationship up for failure instead of giving us a chance to grow through my transparency.

Being afraid to be vulnerable.

Relationships require vulnerability

Photo: Time Magazine

Vulnerability is hard; it’s like taking a walk without an umbrella or raincoat when the weatherman said there’s a 50% chance of rain. It could rain, or the sun could stay out. Just like he could love you back or he could take your heart and smash it like a bug. Who knows, right?

However, you’ll never know the relationship’s potential until you let go. Vulnerability shows itself in your apprehension to initiate affection; it shows in your reluctance to say “I love you” first; and, it shows in your refusal to share your thoughts.

I used to think I was “winning the relationship” because I stayed in control of my feelings by letting him initiate everything…but I soon realized that I felt full and sometimes stuck. I was setting the tone for how the relationship would be and frankly, I didn’t know if I could hold everything in forever.

So why start? Why make it appear like I’ve changed when really, I was who I was before I got here?

Holding him responsible for your past.

Don't carry baggage into your relationships

Photo: Very Smart Brothas

Erykah Badu said it best, “Bag lady, you gone hurt your back, dragging all them bags like that; I guess nobody ever told you, all you must hold on to, is you, is you, is you.”

You shouldn’t bring your past into your present and you definitely shouldn’t hold your present responsible for your past.

When we bring the drama of our past into our current, we put our relationships on a leash, limiting how far they can go.

Often times, we think we are protecting ourselves by holding on. Using what happened as a standard for our future. All men aren’t the same; your current guy isn’t your last, don’t let the fear of being hurt again blur your vision.

I’m not saying let your past go…actually I am. Let it go, do what you need to do to heal from it and move on. The only thing you should be taking into your future is you.

Holding onto grudges you claim you forgave.

Don't hold grudges in your relationships

Photo: Billboard

If you’re going to stay with him, forgive him.

And, just so we’re clear, forgiving him isn’t letting the subject matter go today only to bring it up next month. You can’t expect to move forward if you’re living in what was.

This is a hard one because things happen to trigger our memories.

You have to control your mind and where it goes. You have to make the decision that you’re not going to let it break you or your relationship. At this point, you’ve decided to stay. No need making you both miserable drudging up the past.

Expecting him to see the things the same way you do.

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus. That’s what they say right? Which means the way your mind processes things is not and will not be the way his mind does. Accept it. Don’t’ allow differences in opinions to create issues where issues are unnecessary. Instead, allow those differences to enrich the relationship. Use them as starting points for deeper engagement.

Relationships that don't work

Photo: US Magazine

Relationships are hard work; they take commitment, communication, understanding, and vulnerability. You never truly know what something is capable of until you’ve given it all you’ve got. And, if it doesn’t work, you can rest assured that you gave 110%.

That should be your goal, to give your all. To love without regrets and to give without expecting. That’s true love.

Are you making avoidable mistakes in your relationship?