And while there are many reasons for unhappiness, there’s one factor that magnifies emotional suffering more than almost anything else:
And how do people find themselves in unhappy relationships? Often it’s because they got into a long-term relationship with someone who was emotionally immature.
On the other hand, one of the best things you can do to improve your mental health and happiness is to avoid getting romantically involved with emotionally immature people in the first place.
1. They’re All Talk and No Action
If I had a quarter for every time I heard the following, I’d be writing this essay from a villa in the French Riviera:
I can’t believe I didn’t see it earlier… He talks a good game but he just never follows through on anything.
The reason we all tend to fall for people who talk a good game but never follow through stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of what falling in love really means.
Contrary to the Disney mythology, falling in love is a transaction: Two people find each other sexually attractive and work like hell to convince the other person that they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Of course, with 10 years of unhappy marriage under your belt, it’s easy to see in hindsight real local hookup sites that 90% of what they claimed was crap. But at the moment-when your brain’s flooded with oxytocin and every fiber of your being is vibrating with sexual energy-you tend to focus on the good stuff and ignore some pretty obvious warning signs.
Because, after all, your body doesn’t care about your future marital bliss-all it cares about is your genes getting passed on.
Now, I have nothing against falling in love. It’s one of the greatest feelings and experiences we get in life. And there’s no reason you can’t have it and a happy long-term relationship. You just have to be willing to look for the not-so-good stuff from the beginning. And one of the most important parts of that is noticing discrepancies between words and actions.
- They tell you that they’re fine with you spending time with friends on Saturdays but then give you grief about it all week.
- They say work-life balance is really important but routinely spend late nights at the office.
- They explain how open-minded they are about your unorthodox political views but make sarcastic comments about them whenever politics comes up.
No matter how gorgeous or funny they are, if you get involved with someone who can’t consistently line up their actions with their words, you’re going to be miserable with them.
2. They’re Unwilling to Be Vulnerable
Happy long-term relationships are built on trust. And trust requires intimacy-the ability to freely share and be honest with each other about everything from your hopes and dreams to your deepest fears and insecurities.
But when you’re not able to be intimate, it creates gaps in the relationship. And eventually, these gaps grow into gulfs. Create enough gulfs in your relationship and at best you turn into very civil roommates. But more commonly, it leads to chronic resentment and loneliness.
But here’s the things: while almost everybody can be intimate in some areas of their life, they often struggle in other areas:
- Maybe they have no trouble with sexual intimacy but ask them to talk about their childhood and they freeze up and shut down.
- Or maybe they’re perfectly capable of being intimate with their dreams and aspirations, but refuse to talk about failures and losses.
The reason some people have a hard time being intimate often comes down to issues of emotional vulnerability. They have a hard time opening up and being honest if it exposes certain painful emotions that they’ve kept locked away.