There are a lot of different reasons why relationships fall apart – incompatibility, jealousy, dishonesty, and betrayal being some of the most common ones. But what about those relationships where you’re so in love you could have sworn they were the one? How can things go wrong so suddenly and so fast that you don’t even realize there’s a problem before it’s too late? What is it that makes passion, attraction, and intimacy so hard to maintain in a relationship?
The answer may not be something you want to hear. But whether we can admit it to ourselves or not, the sad truth is, sometimes we may be the ones to blame for our ruined relationships. We hurt the people we love and damage our bonds with them without even realizing it because of our own problematic behaviors. So if you’re in a relationship right now and you want to make it last, here are 8 harmful behaviors that you need to avoid:
1. Spending Too Much Time Together
While it definitely doesn’t feel like it at first, spending too much time with your partner can actually be bad for your relationship because you risk losing yourself in the other person. Doing everything with them and having them by your side all the time isolates you from all the other important relationships in your life, like your friends and family. It keeps you from pursuing your own goals and interests, as well as stifling your own growth. And when you start to feel like you’re losing your sense of individuality and independence, you may start to blame and resent your partner for it (Shulman & Knafo, 2017).
2. A Lack of Openness to Experience
When we fall in love and let someone new into our hearts, it should expand our world, not shrink it. But sadly, the longer we spend in a relationship, the easier it is to fall into a routine together and begin to close yourselves off from new experiences. We become more rigid, predictable, and uninspired because we’ve stopped trying new things together and letting ourselves be free and spontaneous. Having a lack of openness to experience kills the excitement between couples and it keeps us from feeling fulfilled and satisfied with our relationship (Shaver & Brennan, 2012).
3. A Lack of Open Communication
It’s been said time and time again that communication is key in a healthy and enduring relationship (Domingue & Mollen, 2009). So when we lack the ability to openly communicate with our partners and speak freely with them, our relationship takes a turn for the worse. Are you afraid to tell your partner things because you feel like they’ll just get angry at you? Do you roll your eyes at what they have to say or treat their honesty with sarcasm and dismissiveness? These kinds of behaviors drive a wedge between couples and foster secrecy, dishonesty, and distrust, which can ruin the relationship over time if left unresolved.
4. Lying To Keep The Peace
There may be times when the people we love drive us crazy, and in these moments we may feel tempted to just lie and shrug off their concerns to keep a fight from breaking out altogether (i.e. saying things are “fine” between you and their friend when the truth is, you can’t stand each other). But a strong and loving relationship can’t be built on a foundation of lies, no matter how little or well-intentioned. If you have a problem with your partner, you need to talk it out instead of hiding it from them and lying to keep the peace. Because without honesty there can be no emotional intimacy, and when there’s no feeling of genuine closeness between couples it doesn’t take long for them to drift apart and fall out of love with one another (Rosner & Hermes, 2006).
5. Running Away From Fights
Here’s something that might surprise you about relationships: it’s actually quite healthy for couples to fight from time to time (Rhule-Louie & McMahon, 2007). Obviously, no one wants to fight with the person they love, but having conflict shows that you and your partner can be honest and open with one another about your differences. And when you work towards resolving the issue in a constructive manner that’s not mean to hurt or attack the other person, then you strengthen your relationship and deepen your bonds. On the other hand, simply running away from a fight won’t solve anything, and let your problems go unresolved, and bottling up all your negative emotions towards each other worsens it by tenfold.
6. Being Passive Aggressive
Aside from running away and avoiding conflict all the time, another maladaptive way of dealing with your problems in a relationship is by being passive-aggressive. Examples of being passive-aggressive with your partner include: avoiding them, denying your feelings, telling them back-handed compliments, giving them the cold shoulder, and slamming things when you’re angry with them (Hocutt, 2018). If you or your partner act passive-aggressive instead of confronting your issues head-on or being direct about your wants and needs, it shows emotional immaturity. And it can quickly turn your relationship toxic the more manipulative and defensive you become because of it.
7. Nagging and Criticism
It goes without saying that nagging is a kill-joy in a relationship and that constant criticism isn’t much better either. When you nag or criticize your partner about something (like the way they dress or the things they like to do), you are asserting your dominance over them and being unsupportive of them. It sends them a message that you know better and that they should do as you say. But the truth is, your partner is their own person and they should be free to make their own decisions. You don’t always have to like it or agree with them about it, but the least you can do is respect it.
8. No Longer Being Affectionate
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, being neglectful of your partner’s emotional needs and not showing enough affection with one another is one of the quickest ways to ruin a relationship. And while it’s normal to feel the excitement and passion of a whirlwind romance dwindle over time, it’s important that you keep that spark alive and remind your partner that you love them as often as you can. Whether it’s by buying them gifts, writing them a love letter, or just giving them a kiss and a hug, showing any kind of affection will keep you from drifting apart and falling out of love with another (Felmlee, 2015).
Do you relate to any of the behaviors mentioned here? Are you guilty of doing some of these from time to time? That’s okay. As long as you understand that what you’re doing is not good for your relationship and recognize that it’s an unhealthy way of dealing with your emotions, the sooner you can begin to break the pattern and become a better partner. A relationship doesn’t need to be perfect to be healthy, happy, or strong. What matters most is that there is love, honesty, trust, respect, and openness between you and your significant other.
- Shulman, S., & Knafo, D. (2017). Balancing closeness and individuality in adolescent close relationships. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 21(4), 687-702.
- Shaver, P. R., & Brennan, K. A. (2012). Attachment styles and the” Big Five” personality traits: Their connections with each other and with romantic relationship outcomes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 18(5), 536-545.
- Domingue, R., & Mollen, D. (2009). Attachment and conflict communication in adult romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 26(5), 678-696.
- Rosner, S., & Hermes, P. (2006). The Self-sabotage Cycle: Why We Repeat Behaviors that Create Hardships and Ruin Relationships. Greenwood Publishing Group.
- Rhule-Louie, D. M., & McMahon, R. J. (2007). Problem behavior and romantic relationships: Assortative mating, behavior contagion, and desistance. Clinical child and family psychology review, 10(1), 53-100.
- Hocutt, M. A. (2018). Relationship dissolution model: antecedents of relationship commitment and the likelihood of dissolving a relationship. International Journal of service industry management.
- Felmlee, D. H. (2015). Fatal attractions: Affection and disaffection in intimate relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 12(2), 295-311.