Relationships can be beautiful and fulfilling, but they also require both partners' effort, understanding, and compromise. Unfortunately, sometimes relationships break down, leaving us feeling hurt, confused, and searching for answers. While relationship breakdowns can be attributed to various factors, it's important to acknowledge the mistakes we may make as women that can contribute to these difficulties. Recognising these common mistakes and learning to overcome them, we can navigate relationship challenges more effectively and build healthier connections. Here are four common mistakes women make and practical strategies to overcome them.

1. Placing the Partner Above Self

Women are well-known for prioritising their partner — and everyone else in their lives — before themselves. You probably have a friend who prioritised her new partner rather than your friendship, or maybe you’ve neglected your friends when you met a new partner. According to a study referenced by Mashable, Oxford University evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar indicates that we lose an average of two friends every time we enter a new relationship. 

Women often place a significant emphasis on nurturing and supporting their partner's emotional well-being, sometimes at the expense of their own. This can create an unhealthy dynamic, as partners may become overly dependent or take advantage of their partners. 

Neglecting personal emotions can lead to emotional exhaustion and resentment over time. To overcome this mistake, we must prioritise our emotional well-being by seeking self-reflection, practising self-compassion, and seeking support when needed. Engage in self-reflective activities such as journaling, therapy, or spending time on personal hobbies to cultivate emotional resilience. Remember, it's essential to maintain individuality and continue investing time in personal growth and happiness.

2. Poor Communication

Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship. However, we sometimes fall into the trap of avoiding or withholding our true feelings and thoughts, fearing conflict or rejection. This lack of open communication can lead to misunderstandings, pent-up resentment, and, eventually, relationship breakdowns. 

In his book “What Predicts Divorce?”, psychologist Dr John Gottman identifies the four most problematic types of communication in relationships based on his studies of 40,000 couples:
Contempt: Expressing a lack of respect for our partners (e.g., name-calling, eye-rolling, ridiculing).
Criticism: Attacking a partner’s character.
Defensiveness: Protecting from criticism by using excuses or shifting blame.
Stonewalling: Withdrawing from communication by ignoring, zoning out or acting busy.

Of these four, Gottman says, the biggest predictor of a failed relationship is contempt.

Overcoming this mistake involves cultivating effective communication skills. This requires speaking with honesty, assertiveness, and empathy, while also listening attentively to your partner's viewpoints. . Couples therapy or communication workshops can be valuable resources for learning healthy communication techniques.

3. Neglecting Personal Goals and Ambitions

It's not uncommon for women to deprioritize their personal goals and ambitions for the sake of their relationships.  Researchers for Deloitte’s Women @ Work 2023 report surveyed 5,000 women across 10 countries of which 98% were in heterosexual relationships. The data found that nearly 40% of respondents put their partner’s career first. They cited several reasons, ranging from financial and social factors to the burden of caretaking and household responsibilities. But the biggest reason women in the survey cited for prioritising their partner’s career over their own was that their male partners earned more money. 

While compromise is crucial, it is equally important for women to maintain their individuality and pursue personal dreams. Neglecting personal goals can lead to resentment, regret, and loss of identity. To overcome this mistake, we must actively communicate our desires, interests, and ambitions to our partners, ensuring that both parties are supportive and invested in each other's personal growth.

4. Overlooking Red Flags

There’s much information on the internet about recognising red flags — signs of unacceptable behaviour or values — early on in a relationship, yet we continue to ignore them! In the early stages of a relationship, it's easy to overlook red flags or dismiss warning signs. Women sometimes rationalise or justify problematic behaviours, hoping that things will change or improve over time. 

If you search online for ‘how to spot red flags in relationships’ you’ll find more than a quarter of a million results. It’s a hot topic. And yet it seems we don’t seem to learn. Also, one woman’s red flag is another woman’s green flag. Still, deceit, addictions, abuse, neglect, irrational jealousy, constant miscommunication, or your partner taking you for granted are considered red flags by most. Women’s Health reports that recognising these flags is the first step to repairing your relationship before the issues escalate.

Ignoring these red flags, unfortunately, can steer us towards forming or prolonging relationships that are detrimental or even abusive. To surmount this obstacle, it is vital to nurture a robust sense of self-worth and construct firm personal boundaries. Acknowledging our inherent worthiness and refusing to compromise on our standards becomes paramount.  Seeking support from trusted friends, family, or professional counsellors can guide this process.


So what can we do to understand the common mistakes we make in relationship breakdowns for personal growth and building healthier connections? First, by recognising and overcoming these mistakes, we can foster healthier relationships based on mutual respect, effective communication, and personal fulfilment. We must prioritise self-care, cultivate open communication, pursue personal goals, acknowledge red flags, and focus on our emotional well-being. Ultimately, by learning from these mistakes, we can lay the groundwork for fulfilling and satisfying relationships. Remember, this is a process of continuous learning and growth. So, keep your heart open, your boundaries firm, and your aspirations high. After all, you are deserving of nothing less than the best in love and in life.


Author's Bio: 

Karen Floyd is a Transformational Coach helping female executives worldwide turn personal and professional breakdowns into breakthroughs with the Inner Compass Program. Available one-to-one and in groups, the 8-week program combines coaching, exercises, techniques, tools, and ancient spiritual practices for long-lasting transformation and a strong inner compass and intuition so that you can always find your north star. She brings 25 years of global leadership experience, 25 years of personal and spiritual development, and 50+ years of her own personal and professional reinventions to the Inner Compass Program. Karen is an international best-selling author, an ICF Certified coach with a diploma in Integrative Coaching, a Certified Peernovation Coach for high-performing teams, a Chartered Public Relations Professional, a Certified Teacher of Active Dreaming, and a Certified Shamanic Practitioner.