Common Mistakes That Destroy Relationships

So the past weekend I was at a social engagement and because of my profession being in psychology, I get these questions which I totally welcome. People will ask me about different things related to psychology. One of them that I get a lot is about relationships. The typical question I get, which came up this weekend, what’s one of the biggest problems that you see or hear about in people’s relationships or what are the common mistakes that destroy relationships. So I’m going to say the most significant are poor communication, two would be lack of interest and three would be lack of intimacy. And the relationships that they’re referring to are typically romantic relationships, marriages and so forth.

So for those of you that don’t know me, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso. I am the Clinical Director at Nsight Psychology & Addiction in Newport Beach, California. I like to drop some of these videos to just kind of, I don’t know if demystify the realm of psychology is the right way to describe it, but I want to be able to share stuff with you that is one, informational, and two, usable. So you don’t have to go to a psychology class to learn this stuff. It’s really kind of straight forward.

We get a lot of people in treatment at Nsight struggling with mood disorders, trauma, and similar struggles. Those types of issues, not only impact the individual, they do impact families and relationships. So any information that I can share that would help you understand people or be able to just to work through relationships and issues. So this doesn’t have to be a significant thing. “Hey, we need therapy.” It’s just good information to know. So again, the three things that people struggle with, and it’s a common theme that I see in relationships; poor communication, lack of interest and lack of intimacy. When you look at relationships, you see this common theme, and I’m going to share with you that most of the people that come in about relationship share the same theme.

So I guess the question becomes if everybody or a lot of people know that these are the main issues, why do people continue to struggle with this stuff? Right? So I’m going to put out a thought and others may disagree with me. I’m just like you, I’m in relationship, I’ve been in a marriage for a long time. One of the things that I look at his effort and people say, “Oh, well, okay, you got to put effort in a relationship.” Well, I’m going to take it further. You have no choice to but to put effort into a relationship. And the reason why is, even if your relationship is terrible, you put forth a lot of effort. So think about it like this. Lying takes effort, arguing takes effort, avoiding takes effort and being just generally miserable takes a lot of effort.

So what we’re looking at is, “What if I were to focus my effort in a different fashion?” That instead of just trying to get by, trying to deal with conflict or arguing; What if I put it towards problem resolution? What if we increased communication? What if we improved some of these things that we’re talking about that are the problems? Well, it becomes more solution-focused instead of problem-focused. So I’m going to cover just three things that I want you to guys to walk away with. The three things that you can do to find a solution.

  • How do you set expectations for conversation? And a real quick comment on that, a lot of times people confuse arguing for communication. So they’ll be talking about how they communicate with their significant other and it’s an outsider will look at it, “You guys are just arguing all the time.” But to them that becomes communication. Okay. So we would need to one, set expectations for communication.
  • Me and the person I’m in the relationship with or the conversation with, we need to identify what our expectations are and what our needs are. Not just for the conversation but for the relationship.
  • We would need to understand that intimacy promotes intimacy.

When you look at the first couple of things we were saying are problems, intimacy, lack of intimacy, lack of interest and lack of communication. The lack of communication and the conveyed lack of interest will automatically kill intimacy, at least most of the time. So if you take care of two, you’re likely to solve the third issue. So one of the things, when we get into a conversation, is we need to set expectations, right? What is it that we’re trying to do?

Do we want to just argue? Do I want to just try to make my point or do I really want to hear my significant other’s point? “How do I listen to what my wife has to say and what’s going on with her?” By doing that, we’re setting expectations, she can say, “Hey, this is what I need,” but I’m also stating this is what I need. Then we start to look at what does a resolution look like? So our expectation is we’re not going to sit and argue back and forth and try to make a point it’s, “I’ll make a point with a hope is that you’re going to hear me, understand me and we’re going to come to some type of compromise.” And a real quick part is maybe worst case scenario, we can agree to disagree, but we let it go so we can move forward, and that doesn’t start to create this theme where we’re continuing this emotional disconnect within the relationship.

The second thing is identifying individual needs. So I can say, “Hey, this is what’s wrong with our relationship” or, “This is what’s wrong with what she’s doing,” and so forth. Or I can identify, “Hey, this is what I need in a relationship,” or, “This is what I need,” with whatever the specific circumstances are. And then I would give them an opportunity to say the same thing. I want to know their needs. How am I going to meet their needs if I don’t know what they are? And think about it like this, because I’m going to come back to effort; It takes effort to argue, it also takes effort to meet someone’s needs. But if I think back to when I first met this person, what attracted me to them and what were some of the actions I took to show my interest? I’ve already done that work. It’s not like I’m recreating the wheel. I don’t have to learn all new things. I just need to do the same things I was doing in the beginning. Right?

So let’s just kind of look at this real quick. We set expectations. I listen to what their needs are. I convey what my needs are and I put forth the same effort to understand where it is they’re coming from. With that, I’ve now just resolved two things. We’re not arguing anymore. We’re communicating and we’re problem-solving. That in and of itself starts to bring cohesiveness, right? With cohesiveness, with the interest shown, and with better communication, intimacy is more likely to take place.

And what I’m going to share with you is intimacy builds intimacy. So the more a couple is intimate, and I’m not talking just about physical, I’m talking about emotional. So I would see this in therapy. People come in for treatment and they would say, “Jerry, when we come in, as difficult as it is to talk about this stuff, we actually feel better when we leave.” For me, it’s not really what they talked about. It’s what they did. It was the process that occurred. So when a couple sit down to problem solve and they start to share their feelings, they feel heard, they feel understood, they feel that the other person is showing interest in putting forth effort that creates, just the whole action of that, creates connection. That builds intimacy. The more intimacy you have, the more intimacy builds on that. Relationships get a lot closer. And some of the benefits when you look at intimacy, especially the physical aspects, the body does release a lot of chemicals within the brain that help people to feel much better, and it helps to improve mood.

So anyways, again, I’m Dr. Jerry Grosso from Nsight Psychology & Addiction. I wanted to just share some relationship questions, as things come up, I try to them answer them for you guys so you guys get a little bit more awareness. If you guys have specific questions for me, please feel free to ask. You can respond to this video. If you liked this video, let us know. If you don’t like it you can let us know too. I mean the whole goal here is to get input from you guys. So if you have specific questions you can send it to And again, if you like this video share it. Your comments are totally appreciated. The goal here is that I can cover a lot of topics that people find interesting and maybe help them find solutions. So until I see you next time, have a terrific day and we’ll see you next time.

Dr. Jerry Grosso

Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Grosso is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 20 years of experience assisting individuals and families struggling with addiction, depression and trauma. He obtained his Bachelors of Arts degree in Psychology from San Diego State University before enrolling in Chapman University where he acquired a Master of Arts degree in Psychology.  Dr. Grosso continued his education and received a Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology with a Specialty in treating Chemical Dependency. He holds a professional membership with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).