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Cited in Men’s Health – 7 Major Relationship Dividers

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In this terrific post, Sarah Jacobsson Purewal highlights 7 major relationship dividers and how to bridge them for a more satisfying relationship with your partner. These aren’t the obvious problem areas, but are ones that can pack a punch.

Opposing social lives
You’re the life of every party, she prefers to stay in and watch TV. Or she’s always planning group get-togethers, while you’re hoping for some quality alone time. If one of you is an extrovert and the other is decidedly an introvert, your usually complementary personalities can clash—especially when you’re tired. “Extroversion and introversion refers to where we get our energy,” explains clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. “So the problems—the clashes—often arise when we’re lacking that energy.” Even if you’ve identified your respective personalities, it can be difficult not to take the differences personally. For example, an extrovert might feel like an introvert doesn’t want to spend time with them.

Your play: Because it’s about energy, Clark suggests taking turns. “Extroverts get their energy from socializing, while introverts get their energy from being alone. All you really need to do is let each other refuel—let the introvert have some alone time, and then they’ll have the energy to socialize with the extrovert.”

Out-of-sync cleaning habits
You’re not a slob—you pick up after yourself, do the dishes every other day, and sometimes you even change the sheets. But if you’re living with your girlfriend and the two of you have fallen into a pattern of sharing chores, without explicitly discussing your shared responsibilities, you could face relationship troubles down the road. “Sharing chores can be a sleeper issue, especially if one of you—usually the guy—has a lower threshold for cleanliness,” says Clark. In other words, she could be silently seething because you never clean the baseboards, while you’re blissfully unaware that baseboards are even a thing, let alone a thing that needs to be cleaned.

Your play: Clark suggests sitting down and discussing your respective ideals when it comes to housekeeping and then compromising based on those ideals—a messy person will have to make more of an effort to be tidy, but a neat freak can’t expect OCD-levels of cleanliness from a slob.

Splits on splitting the check
It’s okay (and usually still expected) for you to pay her way when you first start dating. But once you’re officially together, always picking up the tab can put an unexpected strain on your relationship. “Money, and how she treats it, can be a signal for something else,” says Clark. “If she never pays—assuming she can—you’ll start to feel taken advantage of.”

Your play: Money is a touchy subject, and nobody wants to call someone out as a freeloader. Instead of broaching the subject directly, Clark suggests starting out by dropping hints about your budget. “Say something like, ‘my budget is kind of tight right now—let’s stay in instead of eating out,’ and see if she offers to treat you. If she won’t pay after several hints, then you can talk to her directly about the issue.”

Lagging libidos
“Not having sex” would seem like an obvious relationship divider. But if she’s not as enthusiastic about rolling around in bed as you are, there might be a hidden reason that’s more important: You’re not giving her what she wants in other ways. According to Clark, people—often women—like to feel intimacy on multiple fronts. For example, she may want to talk or spend time with you in order to feel connected, and it’s important that you recognize her need for different forms of intimacy.

Your play: “Sex is really important,” says Clark. “You need to have sex. Your relationship needs sex. What this means is that if she wants to talk, you talk. If she wants to spend time together, you spend time with her. Basically, sex is a really important goal and you should be willing to help accomplish that goal in a variety of ways.”

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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

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