Are you a typical Type A? Or maybe you’re in a relationship with one? You know what I’m talking about – those intense, perfectionist, always-on-time high achievers who seem to think life is some sort of race?
Well, I have an admission for you – I think I’m one of them.
But being categorized into a personality type doesn’t mean you can’t grow and mature. And a big part of maturation is learning how to have successful relationships.
So let’s look at the top 8 mistakes that we A’s might be making in our relationships right now.
1) Putting too much emphasis on time and punctuality
Most of us Type A’s are extremely serious about time.
This includes being punctual as well as using your time wisely and to its fullest.
And while we might feel that respect for this view is universal, it’s actually value-based.
Not all people feel the sands of time slipping through their fingers constantly. I’ve even heard of this dastardly bunch of folks who do something called “being in the moment”!
To make things work with a non-A partner, you have to come to terms with the fact that they may simply not really care about time in the way you do.
They put their focus on experiences or simply feel like time is too far out of their control.
It’s not personal when they’re late or when they tell a meandering story, so don’t take it that way.
2) Penalizing your partner for “wasting time”
This is a different but related mistake that Type A’s make.
We assume that since time is so important to us that wasting it is some sort of cardinal sin. Then, when we see our partners doing things we consider to be “time-wasting”, we go on the attack.
But nobody wants to be told they’re wasting their time if they don’t think they are.
Everyone chooses their activities, and though it might seem like there isn’t, there is almost always a good reason for the choice.
I’m just speaking hypothetically here because I certainly have never experienced anything like this… but suppose your partner spends a lot of time watching trashy reality TV shows.
Your instinct is probably to elect yourself judge and jury and declare this a waste of time.
But what about your partner’s reasons?
They might enjoy the cringe factor as a reminder of how well things are for them by comparison. They may be studying human interactions that you don’t pay much attention to. Or this may be the best way for them to relax and let their mind wander.
Instead of convicting them of time wasting and sentencing them to criticism, try asking for their reasons. Or better yet, know when to let a sleeping dog lie.
3) Micro-managing your partner
This is a big one that can really destroy your relationship if you’re not careful.
When we think of micro-managing, we normally think of work situations.
You might have employees who need a lot of checking and hand-holding, but bringing that home is often a big mistake.
Don’t get me wrong:
In a lot of relationships, I think it probably works.
Some people are really just not detail-oriented and find things like managing money and handling schedules stressful.
They might appreciate a partner with a Type A personality sticking their picky paws into things.
But many other partners will find this, at best annoying and, at worst, really insulting. It can also affect their self-worth.
Different types of people manage things in different ways, and if you’re going to share responsibilities in a relationship, you just have to learn to keep your paws off some things.
If you have a system that might help make things easier, by all means, suggest it.
But don’t force it on your partner or decide you’d better just do everything yourself.
4) Seeing the relationship as a competition
We Type A personality people love a bit of competition. We love achievement and are often the most highly-motivated people around.
But is that what’s needed in a relationship?
A romantic relationship is meant to be a collaboration and not a competition.
Sure, it’s fine to compete with your partner on some things. Maybe you want to see who can do the dishes faster or beat the other at badminton.
But when it comes to things like making money, plans, and tough decisions, this is when you need to work together.
Often, people with Type A personalities want to be right.
OK, all the time!
But it’s a pretty slippery slope if your being right always depends on your partner being wrong. You might even feel a gloating “I told you so!” when they do something their own way and fail.
If you really feel such a strong need to compete, try to divert it elsewhere. Make this your mantra:
“We’re on the same team!”
Yes, a relationship is a team sport. So if you have that burning need to destroy the competition, at least work together with your partner – your teammate – to do it.
5) Forcing behavior styles on your partner
There are plenty of different ways to manage a household and raise kids.
But of course, there’s a best way to do everything, right?
It’s hard for me to accept, too, but in fact, there are just too many factors to measure. In the end, there are a lot of ways that work as long as everyone is happy with them.
But forcing your housekeeping or parenting style on your partner is not going to make anyone happy.
Instead, always remember that you both have different experiences, different preferences, and different things to contribute. But you have an equal say.
If, for example, your partner is very lenient with your kids and you’re very strict, you can aim for a middle ground.
It’s all based on communication and <gulp!>… compromise.
6) Taking criticism too seriously
As a Type A person, I know I strive for perfection. I’m competitive and analytical, and hyper-alert.
But I’m always doing what I think is my best.
So when someone criticizes me, I find it very hard to swallow. I really take it personally, and once or twice or all the time, I have been known to lash out in response.
When it comes from a partner, criticism can really hurt.
Well, it’s time to go back and remind ourselves of the old adage “nobodys perfect” (if the missing apostrophe is all you can focus on, you might have a Type A personality!).
Well, it’s true.
We can all improve on almost everything we do, and our partners are the ones who might be able to see how we can improve better than we can.
Remember that your partner is on your team. So when they criticize you, you can take this as a way to improve rather than an insult.
7) Setting expectations too high
Just because you like to work 10 hours a day, exercise for 2 more, and feed your body like you’re making votive offerings, doesn’t mean your partner has to as well.
It’s fine to place expectations on yourself and your performance, but you can expect to place the same ones on someone else.
It’s just not fair or reasonable. Every person has to set their own standards and then be responsible for living up to them or not.
And if you think you can make major changes to your partner, good luck!
You’ll only find that pushing them where they don’t want to go might just push them right out the door.
8) Choosing the wrong kind of partner
The biggest mistake that people with Type A personalities make in relationships is choosing the wrong kind of person to be their partner.
You know there’s no accounting for taste, and that often goes for attraction, too.
But a relationship has to have more than just attraction. You especially need compatibility.
For some Type A’s, opposites attract. They need a cool, calm companion to control their competitive impulses.
For other A’s, like goes with like. You might need a high-voltage A to really connect with and be able to understand.
But if you constantly feel disappointed in your partner or really annoyed by them, it’s possible you’ve chosen the wrong kind of person. This can happen.
And it’s important to realize that both of you could change a little, but if you can’t bend enough to reach a middle ground, this relationship might not be the right one.
We all make mistakes in relationships, even us “perfect” people with Type A personalities! But mistakes can help us learn and improve and hopefully lead us to build better relationships with the ones we love.