Relationships can be tricky, but there are times a complicated relationship can get to be too much. Here's how to simplify yours for a more enriching life.

In a perfect world, romance would be what it is at the end of romantic movies: easy, perfect, with all the loose ends wrapped up as the credits roll. 

Real life, though? It's not that way. 

The truth is, the world is full of complicated relationships. Office romances, long-distance relationships, complex family situations; These can all be part of modern relationships. 

So what can you do to simplify your relationship and your life? Read on to find out!

Manage Expectations

Unmet expectations are, according to some, the silent killer of relationships

Just think about it. You have this perfect vision in your head about how your love affair with this person will play out. There are church bells, endless laughter, maybe even doves. 

Then life sets in and you realize that a relationship is just life with another person, and the easiest path to a complicated relationship is to idealize that other person. 

Even the best person, the person you love most, is fallible, and won't get it right every single time. So how can you manage your expectations?

i. No Rose-Colored Glasses

You have to look at this person you love and be willing to see their faults and love them regardless.

If you aren't able to see them as an imperfect individual, the first time they hurt your feelings, forget an anniversary gift or load the dishwasher the wrong way, it's going to break your heart. 

ii. Use Your Words

We'll talk more about this later, but communication is key. 

If you find that your dear partner has done something that annoys you or defies your expectations, tell them! No need to be aggressive or confrontational, just let them know, and be ready to compromise.  

iii. Go with the Flow

The world is full of minor disappointments. Maybe you learn to fold your towels a different way because it really isn't that big a deal. Maybe you only get to eat your mom's special tacos when you go home because your partner can't stand cilantro. 

The quickest way to uncomplicate a complicated relationship? Just learn to pick your battles and let go of the things that aren't super important. 

Communicate

Have you ever had a friend or partner who suddenly seemed to be angry at you? They wouldn't come out and say it, but you could tell something was wrong? How did that relationship turn out?

It's in every relationship article, but only because it is so important. You. Must. Communicate. Say it again. Say it into a mirror, over and over, until you can't forget it. 

So much of the complication in relationships comes from within ourselves. You have thoughts and frustrations that you keep inside, maybe to avoid complicating your relationship with conflict (oh, sweet irony), until one day it all comes pouring out onto your unsuspecting partner. 

If you want to keep your relationship simple, you have to be willing to occasionally have a hard conversation. 

That doesn't mean that hard conversations have to be confrontational or angry. In fact, researchers have found that couples who stay together don’t avoid the tough conversations. They simply go about them with  trust, kindness, and generosity.

The give-and-take of healthy communication isn't always easy, but in the interests of uncomplicating your relationship, it is worth it. 

Refuse to Hold On

No, not to each other. Refuse to hold on to the past. 

We all know the story. Husband comes home, and he has no birthday gift for his wife. Woman forgets a Valentines Day gift because work has gotten so busy. 

These minor infractions are going to happen. Even in the best relationships, the people involved will occasionally mess up. 

Those little upsets can turn into big complications if you aren't willing to let go. 

That's not to say that you should put up with someone who is constantly inconsiderate or rude. But in the case of a minor slip-up on the part of your beloved? It may not be worth the energy.

"But wait!" you cry "You just said to communicate!"

Of course, it is always best to say what is on your mind rather than hold it in. But there is space for the simplicity that comes from picking your battles and knowing when to speak up and when to let things go. 

Trust

Nothing complicates a relationship faster than a lack of trust. 

Mistrust of your partner leads to fear, anger, jealousy, and controlling behavior. 

Communication helps build trust, as does developing a good sense of empathy (otherwise known as the recognition that your partner is a human being). 

It is important to go into a relationship with an expectation of trust, even if you have been hurt before. Assuming that your partner is untrustworthy before they have done anything to lose your trust is a quick way to over-complicate your life. 

If the trust has been broken (the worst kind of complicated relationship) and the damage is not irreparable, trust can be rebuilt, if both of you are willing to put in the work. 

If you find yourself having to rebuild trust, you may lament that your relationship has now become complicated, but abiding by the rules about communication and letting go will help return some simplicity. 

Be Mindful

Finally, a simple relationship is full of simple gestures of love and kindness. 

Taking the time to remember birthdays, anniversaries, or just taking the time to think of your partner throughout the day are ways to keep your love from falling into the traps of complications. 

Consider your partner's feelings, and take into account their desires. Make a genuine effort to put them first as often as you can. Surprise them with a gift, text them from work, or do their least favorite chore without prompting. 

Spending the time to be the best partner you can will ensure a relationship that is free from unnecessary complications. 

In then end, avoiding a complicated relationship is about being in your partner's corner, fostering a relationship full of kindness and laughter, and being willing to trust and love unconditionally.

I would love to hear your comments or answer any questions you might have about this post.

Yours sincerely,   


Dr. Carissa Coulston, Clinical Psychologist

BSc(Hons), MPsychol(Clinical), PhD, MAPS