Falling in love with someone you’ve been dating is typically a beautiful, romantic experience, but when depression, low self-esteem and other mental health issues crop up and cause you to turn to the negative coping mechanism that is the bad habit of procrastination, it can raise problems in a relationship you otherwise might not encounter.
Procrastination is the gap between intention and action, which is why people who procrastinate sometimes having trouble finding love or end up self-sabotaging their relationships.
The word procrastination comes from “pro” meaning forward and “cras” meaning tomorrow. Procrastination, therefore, means to put off until tomorrow. It is the act of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference for more urgent ones or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. Procrastination voluntarily delays an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay. And, no, procrastination is not a problem of time management or planning. It is a force that prevents you from following through on what you set out to do, which can lead to self-sabotaging relationships.
Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. Are you one of them?
Research shows that we regret those things we have not done more than we do the things we have done.
Procrastination blocks you from living life to its fullest. The main reason why we procrastinate is that taking action will cause us a certain amount of pain and discomfort. We avoid undertaking certain tasks because of the risk of shame, vulnerability, and failure. Taking action means that we might be making a mistake or we might fail. We do not want to take action and look anything less than perfect. We, therefore, choose to avoid taking action and instinctively retreat to our comfort zone. Unfortunately, we will never make progress unless we take action. In trying to protect ourselves from failure, we often erect our own barriers to success.
Psychologists refer to this as self-handicapping, which is the strategy of intentionally sabotaging our own efforts and research shows that by creating impediments that make success less likely, we nicely protect our sense of self-competence. Paradoxically, we are more likely to self-handicap when the stakes are highest. The more important a task is, the more a procrastinator needs to protect himself by not trying too hard.
Procrastination appeals to some of us as a way of controlling our lives in some small way; a life that can become chaotic and unmanageable. In this way, procrastination is a coping mechanism, as by remaining in our comfort zone, we avoid negative consequences that may come with taking action. Unfortunately, procrastination is a form of self-deception, and one that only adds to the chaos.
Whatever your comfort zone is, you pay a hefty price for staying inside it.
Your comfort zone is a shrunken world where opportunities, ideas, and wonderful relationships can easily pass you by. When you procrastinate, you pass the buck to your future self. So how does this affect our relationships?
Healthy relationships are built on teamwork.
When you sign on to become someone’s partner, you become one part of the partnership. When one member of the team keeps missing their goals, the entire team loses, hurting your relationship. If you fail to contribute your 50 percent, you are not holding up your end of the bargain. If you are a procrastinator, you are therefore sabotaging your relationship. Some relationship counselors refer to procrastination as “a slow-burning relationship issue,” acting like a python slowly squeezing the life out of your love.
Here are the 4 ways procrastination is destroying relationships:
1. It can stress you out.
A procrastinator is often a kind and caring person who wants to make their partner happy. They are more relaxed and thrive in non-demanding environments. Procrastinators will do marginally useful things as they avoid undertaking tasks that they may feel are difficult or time-consuming. As a result, the partner might feel unimportant, un-cared for, and ignored. Consequently, resentment, lack of trust and a downward spiral may begin, eventually further damaging your self-esteem, self-confidence, and motivation. You may even become discouraged and stop trying out of fear that any action you take will be too late or insufficient.
2. You risk losing your partner’s trust.
One day, your words and promises might come to mean nothing to your partner. When your partner expects you to do something and you to put off the task for another day at another time, the result is that you become perceived as not being dependable. Relationships thrive when promises are kept, agreements are honored, and commitments are met. In relationships, the undone tasks can become a symbol of the partner’s unmet needs, as well as a measure of disrespect, and lack of caring on the procrastinator.
All these things not only hinder the progress of your relationship, but also make your partner feel as if they cannot rely on you. Your partner may slowly start undertaking more tasks on their own and relegate you more and more to the sidelines. This can result in you feeling useless. We all want to be needed, so being seen as unreliable can cause further damage to your self-esteem.
3. It can delay improvement in your relationship.
Many unhappy couples spend needless months lamenting the state of their relationships while making no strategic or proactive effort to re-mediate the situation. If you are a procrastinator, even though you are clear about your unhappiness, you may even procrastinate initiating the conversations to heal your relationship.
Initiating the necessary conversation is understandably difficult and scary. However, your relationship will only grow when you overcome harmful and self-defeating behaviors.
Not acting may bring temporary peace, but it only compounds future discomfort. Initiating conversations about the weakness in certain aspects of your relationship is a challenging task that evokes fear and uncertainty about the outcome of the discussion. You may find it easier to resort to silence and hope that the relationship will just improve on its own. But guess what? This will never happen! Procrastinating is trading the discomfort of the moment for a more prolonged, more chronic unhappiness.
4. Procrastination affects your feelings of self-worth.
Procrastination could potentially lower your self-esteem and cause an increase in depression, affecting how you deal with others, especially those closest to you.
The doubts that may creep up about your competency may potentially drive you further away from your partner as you attempt to hide your fear of failure from their view. Your partner needs your loving presence in the relationship. This requires your attention and commitment to honoring your agreements. Strengthening a relationship means investing your time in it. If you have no time to invest, it will be impossible to hold on for long.