A couple sitting down, the woman in focus looking to camera, the man behind her

Does your relationship have a high vs. low maintenance problem?

by Eharmony Editorial Team - March 4, 2011

If you and your partner have different maintenance levels, could it be causing you relationship problems? Find out more...

Those heady first months of a new relationship are great, partly because everything your new partner does is cute and adorable. But, a year later, those little quirks might not be quite so adorable. Maybe when you first met they always dressed casually, which you thought was very cool. Or perhaps they were always incredibly punctual, which you thought was very sweet. Now though, these personality traits just seem odd or irritating.

This change of feeling often happens because one partner is ‘high maintenance’ and the other is ‘low maintenance’, and over time the differences between the way each partner wants to live their life becomes more glaring. But if you agree on the fundamentals, then these differences can be overcome. Just because one of you thinks it’s incredibly important for guests to take of their shoes when they enter your house and the other couldn’t care less, doesn’t mean you should break up.

The answer lies in flexibility, and self-awareness. And reading our tips…

Accept who you are
Whether you are high or low maintenance doesn’t matter, you are who you are. It’s unlikely you’re going to change the basics of what makes you, you, at this point in your life. Yes it might be better if you dressed a little smarter sometimes, or if you were a bit less uptight about time keeping, but ultimately there’s nothing wrong with being on either end of the ‘maintenance’ scale as long as your behaviour doesn’t err towards the extreme. Accept that that’s the person you are and understand that everyone is different.

Take stock
While self-acceptance is very important, it’s also essential to be self-aware. And while your high or low maintenance behaviours are totally normal, it’s worth just checking them. After all, if there are some small changes you can make that might improve your relationship, then why not?

Mentally (or even physically) list all the things you do that you know annoys your partner. Maybe you know that you always take forever to decide what you want to eat in a restaurant – and invariably eat the same thing every time anyway. Or perhaps it’s simply that you’re always late for everything. By being self-aware about your quirks you can learn to rein them in when they get a bit too much.

Make small changes
Compatibility in a relationship is essential – the more compatible two partners are, the stronger their relationship will be. If you can make small steps towards becoming more compatible with your partner then you can only make your relationship even better than it already is.

If you know you’re high maintenance, and always insist on lots of notice to go out, try relaxing that rule. Attempt to get ready quickly when your partner suggests a spontaneous day at the beach. A little effort on your part will make your partner feel their gesture has been appreciated. If you’re low-maintenance, perhaps you need to pay some more attention to your partner, so try organising an evening out that relates to something they’ve said they’d love to do one day.

These don’t need to be huge romantic gestures, you simply need to show you can be flexible and are willing to compromise. You’re showing that you’re in this relationship 100% and you’ll happily make changes for your partner’s benefit. As you both do this, you’ll come ever closer and most importantly will grow emotionally into a stronger unit.

Be positive
This is the most obvious point and yet the most difficult to carry out. If you’re reading this, it’s likely your partner’s foibles have become something of an annoyance to you. But, if all you have to complain about is that he never pulls out the shower curtain to dry, or she always insists on being extra early for everything, then you should count your lucky stars!

If those high versus low maintenance personality traits impact the bigger things in life (finances, careers) then of course there’s potential for conflict. But what’s important is that you try and find a way round them. After all, we’re all different, and you’re bound to clash on some things as a couple. If you work hard enough you can figure out most wrinkles.

Over all though, look at what you love about your partner. Maybe she does only do the washing up when you make a big point of it, but maybe she also makes you laugh, and remembers your Mum’s birthday every year. Maybe he is always forgetting to charge up his phone, but if he makes you feel safe and loved, does it really matter?