Tracey Cox Reveals The Six Relationship Breakers You Don’t Realize Are Ruining Your Love Life
Saying I love you. Develop good communication skills. Have sex regularly. Most of us have a general idea of what makes a relationship healthy.
But some other behaviors aren’t so obviously “good” or “bad.”
Here are six things that seem completely innocent but can sneak up and destroy a perfectly good relationship.
What’s wrong with buying surprise tickets to Paris for two, for example? Nothing – unless you are…
Rely on grand gestures to solve problems
Here are six things that seem completely innocent but can sneak up on and destroy a perfectly good relationship, says sex expert Tracey Cox (file photo)
Your partner is a workaholic. Each week, they promise that the following weekend will be “different”: they will not work at all and will devote all their time to “catching up”.
Except nothing is different once Saturday rolls around: they’re still huddled in front of their computer and you’re ignored or abandoned.
Tickets to Paris arrive after a huge argument and angry ultimatums. The two-day break is bliss and temporarily saves the relationship… but everything returns to its usual dysfunction the minute you return.
If you’re relying on the weird grand gesture to fix long-standing issues, you’re putting band-aids on broken arms.
It’s the little things that make couples happy in the long run – and they need to be done regularly and consistently.
Sex expert Tracey Cox shares advice on how to keep your love life alive and fiery by making sure you don’t do those romance-ruining ‘relationship wreckers’
The now infamous study Enduring Love (2014) followed 5,000 people over two years to explore what kept their relationships on track. He revealed that small acts of kindness were most appreciated – ‘making a cup of tea’ was seen as a significant sign of partner appreciation.
Flowers, chocolates, and extravagant trips to romantic destinations can be nice, but they don’t nurture a relationship as much as watching TV together.
Don’t laugh at your partner’s jokes
Sharing the same sense of humor is an integral part of the pleasure of living with someone. If you don’t find the same things funny, what hope do you have of getting through the bad times?
If you don’t laugh at the same things, your views on the world are radically different. Research tells us that opposites attract but rarely stay together.
It’s just as important that you both instinctively know when do not joking about something: not taking something seriously, when it’s a sensitive topic for your partner, is another red flag that your relationship is headed for trouble.
Protect your partner from trouble
A problem shared is a problem halved, but many people don’t talk about personal or professional issues with their partner.
“I don’t want to worry them” is one of the reasons. Another is the fear that your partner will see you differently if you admit you’re not perfect and can’t work it all out.
Men, in particular, tend to shut up when something worries them. The thing is, we feel that when our partners are stressed or anxious, it’s impossible to hide if you’re close. There are only a limited number of times you can ask “How are you?”, if the answer is always “Good”.
You may think you’re keeping your partner from worrying by keeping secrets, but that’s really just creating distance and making them feel left out; you don’t trust them enough to talk about private things and you don’t value their opinion to get their opinion.
Working on solutions together is what binds you together: it cultivates the “you and me against the world” feeling that unites couples.
Keep silent about what you want
THE 5 ITEMS IN YOUR BEDROOM THAT ARE KILLING YOUR SEX LIFE
They look innocent enough, but these everyday items wreak havoc on the average couple’s sex life.
A SOFT AND ROUND BED
The best beds for good sex are firm and without hard edges. You need a solid foundation to master creative sex positions and be able to sit or lean on the edges without touching anything hard.
DIRTY BED LINEN
Clean, fresh linen is inviting; sheets rough, dirty, balled up, not so much. (With one exception: nothing sexier than a bed you screwed up while having sex in it!)
Couples who have a TV in their bedroom have sex half as often as those who don’t: it’s a fact, backed by reliable research.
TV doesn’t just keep us from having sex, it’s even easier to watch on repeat when you’re already in bed, robbing you of the sleep you need for a healthy libido. Women’s libido, in particular, drops when there is a lack of sleep.
Ditching the TV won’t do anything if you replace it with another device to play with.
A recent study found that it’s especially harmful if one person uses technology more than the other – the second person feels ignored and insecure.
A huge t-shirt and woolen socks can make us feel comfortable when it’s cold outside, but they don’t do much to excite and disturb our partners. I’m all for comfort, but pick something that’s at least a little flattering.
Couples who are happiest with their relationship and sex life have the courage to share their true, true selves.
This means that talking about dreams that are worrying you can sound a bit silly if they are spoken out loud.
This means revealing things about yourself that your partner might not like about you (you can’t stand your brother and hope you never see him again) or that might disrupt plans you’ve already made (the idea of moving to the countryside to raise a family fills you with dread).
Hiding our true wants and desires from the person closest to us means they can never get this close. Having the courage to really open up is the key to unlocking “warts and all” love. Knowing that your partner sees you clearly and still loves you despite all your flaws is consistently considered the stage of nirvana in a relationship.
You cannot achieve this without first revealing your “warts”.
Not enough hugs
Spending hours cuddling up on the couch may not do much for your physical health, but it does skyrocket couple satisfaction.
Hugs stimulate the production of oxytocin, a hormone that binds couples. It makes us feel safe, loved and secure – and happier sexually too.
A survey of 70,000 people in 24 countries sought to determine what constitutes “normal” behavior among happy couples.
The study found that cuddling was strongly correlated with a couple’s satisfaction with their sex life – 96% of people who don’t cuddle said they had a bad sex life.
This lines up with previous research that shows the less a couple gets out of bed, the happier they are.
Moving through life at different speeds
I remember discovering how “speed” affected relationships when I was writing my second book.
I was amazed that it wasn’t talked about more – it certainly explained why some of my relationships hadn’t worked out!
There are five crucial connection points that make or break a couple: chemistry (do you feel good?), compatibility (how much do you have in common?), common goals (how much do you share?), timing (are you at the same stage in your life?) and pace (are you moving at the same speed in life?).
The first four are logical and things most of us know.
The fifth point was something I had never thought of: a shift in rhythm makes the relationship feel unbalanced, but it’s often hard to understand why.
I’m a fast person: I do things quickly, I multitask, I walk and think fast, and I want things to happen yesterday. Put me with a “stop and smell the roses every two steps” person and my frustration level skyrockets.
“Slow” people and “fast” people don’t mix.
If you’re ambitious (a “fast” trait), you’ll need to devote a lot of time to your career. If your partner doesn’t share or understand your drive to succeed and values free time above their work, you’re headed for tough times.
Sometimes oddly matched couples find their own balance: one goes out to earn the bacon, the other stays home to butter the bread.
But beware if one of you is constantly on the move, the other stays still and things don’t feel “right”.
SexTok, Tracey’s weekly podcast comes out on Tuesday. Find his podcast, his blogs and his two product lines (with Lovehoney) on traceycox.com.