9 Toxic Behaviors that Could Be Ruining Your Relationship
This article with the same title was written by Lauren Schumaker and originally published by Insider Magazine. I was quoted in this article and wanted to share it with all of you.
At the very beginning of a new relationship, it’s not uncommon for people to be on their best behavior, so to speak, and to be overly conscientious and hide any characteristics that they view as flaws. As time goes on, however, people tend to sort of revert back to how they really are. They get more comfortable in the relationship, perhaps, and start to show people their personality, bad habits and all.
There are some relationship behaviors, however, that experts say you need to quit doing because they can cause real harm in your relationship.
Although not all not-so-great relationship behaviors or habits will result in an immediately-damaging effect, they can take a toll over time. INSIDER spoke with some experts to learn what you should stop doing in your relationship right away so that you can have better, healthier, longer-lasting relationships overall.
Stop nagging them or being overly-critical.
It can be tempting to gripe about missed opportunities, neglected responsibilities, or broken promises, but if you cross the line from helpful reminders to nagging or all-out criticism of your partner, you might need to reevaluate, especially if you notice that you’re doing it more and more.
“[W]hen we’re in that space, we’re just in a space of all sorts of negativity,” Shirani M. Pathak, licensed psychotherapist and the founder of the Center for Soulful Relationships told INSIDER. “There’s no room for any love or romance to flourish because we’re constantly looking at what is lacking in our relationship as opposed to focusing on what is going well and what is flourishing. It’s like putting a plant in a dark closet instead of outside where the sun and the rain are.”
That’s definitely not what you intended to do — and can really wear your partner down after awhile. They might get frustrated, sure, but they also might start to feel like they’re constantly walking on eggshells. No one wants to live like that.
Stop expecting that they just know what you’re thinking.
You know all about that couple that claims they can finish each other’s sentences, they’re always so in sync (OK, maybe that’s a couple from a movie), but in real life, you can’t expect that your partner will always know what you’re thinking or what you need without ever vocalizing things.
“People are often afraid to ask for what they need in a specific situation,” Lauren Gentile, PhD, a psychologist, told INSIDER. “They come to their partner looking for something specific and then get frustrated when that is not what they get from them.”
If you don’t tell them what you want or need, not only do they not necessarily know what it is that you want or need, but you take away an opportunity to let them give it to you, Gentile explained. You’re on the same team when you’re in a relationship, but they can’t help if you don’t let them.
Stop letting distractions get in the way when you’re together.
“Quality time isn’t really quality time if you’re not connecting,” Rebekah Montgomery, PhD, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert, told INSIDER. “This is a frequent contributor to getting in a rut, routine, or feeling bored or disconnected in your relationship. Research has shown that recent generations are having less sex than past generations when they were the same age. Technology is a big part of this.”
It can be difficult to put down the phone, shut off the computer, or even give the TV a night off every so often, especially if those things are part of your regular routine — and for many people, they are. But taking time away from distractions to spend time with your partner will strengthen your relationship. Plus, you’ll actually get to enjoy their company, rather than competing with something else for their attention.
Stop avoiding difficult conversations.
It can be tempting to ignore any nagging problems in your relationship and live in the positive. But Gail Crowder, a certified master sexpert and a marriage and life coach, told INSIDER that you should “ask the hard questions.”
Avoiding conversations about your sex life, that argument you had last week, or something else that you’re worried might not go well, will be awkward, or, at least, will be potentially emotionally-difficult to get through won’t actually help your relationship. Any issues related to those conversations won’t disappear, they’ll just continue to linger in the background.
Stop letting your insecurities get in the way.
Though it can be extremely difficult (and certainly easier said than done) to set aside your insecurities, letting your insecurities interfere with your relationship can make things really difficult for you and for your partner.
“In my work as a trauma specialist, I have seen this time and time again,” Dana Carretta-Stein, MS, LMHC, LPC, a licensed mental health counselor, told INSIDER. “This contributes to a great deal of anxiety, depression and insecurity in a relationship that blocks intimacy. For example, if someone has a negative belief of ‘I can’t trust anyone,’ probably stemming from their own trauma, they then will begin accusing their spouse of lying, infidelity, etc. This can create a lot of stress on the relationship which is hard for any partnership to withstand long term.”
Stop getting so defensive.
“We can all be defensive in relationships, especially when we are feeling attacked,” Gentile said. “However, defensiveness can escalate a mundane conversation into a fight quickly. We all make mistakes in relationships, the key is taking responsibility instead of making excuses or pointing fingers.”
Own that you didn’t do what you said you would or otherwise let them down or disappointed them and move on together. If you forgot to swing by the grocery store on your way home, it doesn’t need to be the end of the world.
Elizabeth M. Minei, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Baruch College and the CEO of EMinei Consulting, LLC, told INSIDER that stonewalling is definitely a behavior that couples should stop doing right now because it’s a controlling behavior.
Essentially, Minei said, by ignoring or avoiding an issue, they’re in control because the conversation can’t happen unless they drop their stonewalling techniques. It’s OK to need to table a discussion for later if it’s the wrong time or place or you’re too emotionally upset to handle it right then, but it’s not a good plan to stonewall.
Stop looking at things as competitions.
You and your partner on are the same team.
“In any argument or interaction between partners, if someone has to win, you both lose,” Carretta-Stein said.
You’re not supposed to be competing to get the better end of the deal when you’re compromising. That’s ultimately not going to end well. Your relationship matters more than that temporary win.
Friendly competition might be OK on game night, but not when you’re making decisions that impact your relationship.
Stop letting your needs fall by the wayside.
Yes, you’re part of a partnership, but you’re also an individual who has your own interests, needs, and the like. Though it can sometimes be easier to remember that when you’re single, it’s important to continue to cultivate those and take care of yourself when you’re in a relationship too.
“It can be easy to fall into spending all your time together, or feeling upset if your partner has some of their own activities,” Montgomery said. “It’s obviously great to have shared interests but maintaining a healthy level of independence is good for you and good for the relationship! Spend the time you are apart from your partner focusing on activities, hobbies and relationships that are important to you. This makes you a stronger partner and keeps the relationship interesting.”
Don’t lose yourself entirely in your relationship.
You can view the original article HERE.