Most of us want to have a successful relationship, and yet there are behaviors that we engage in that are surefire ways of wreaking havoc on our relationship. A likely cause is that we didn’t know that our behavior was unhealthy and destructive. For this reason it’s important to reflect on our actions and assess whether they’re harmful to our relationship. So examine these sabotaging behaviors and determine whether you’re making any of these mistakes.
Not addressing past hurts
If you enter into your relationship with un-addressed issues from prior relationships, whether with romantic partners or family members, it can come up and be damaging to your new relationship. You can be setting yourself up for failure if you don’t address these past issues. And it’s even worse if you’re thinking that you don’t need to address these issues, as it’ll be harder for you to see how they’re affecting your relationship. Keep in mind, that when people perceive their partners as having more emotional baggage, they value them less as a romantic partner and are less committed to them.
So develop a plan to address your past hurts. Whether you make the decision to talk to the person you’ve been holding onto thoughts about, begin journaling or choose to talk to a professional. Determine what’s best for you.
Having unexpressed needs
Being in a relationship and not expressing your needs may very well lead you to feel unfulfilled. And having unexpressed expectations will likely lead you to be regularly disappointed in your partner because they will never be able to live up to expectations that only you know, which could also be unrealistic.
So, talk to you partner. Tell them your needs. You might not get everything you’re asking for, but there will be a conversation and you’ll be clear on what needs will be met. And let your partner in on your expectations. You may come to realize that you have unrealistic expectations of your partner and/or your relationship. Be sure that your expectations aren’t coming from your comparison of other relationships.
Holding onto relationship myths
Most people, at some point in time, have believed a relationship myth. Whether thinking that conflict is bad for a relationship, that their partner can complete them, or will know what to do and say to make them happy, that relationships must be 50/50, or if you’re truly in love passion will never fade. If you’re holding onto any of these myths or any others, it’s bound to negatively affect your relationship.
It’s important to take the time to evaluate your thoughts about your relationship and assess whether they are healthy and accurate ones. You may also want to talk it over with someone you trust who has been in a healthy long-term relationship.
Not communicating effectively
Healthy and clear communication is essential in every relationship. If you’re expecting your partner to know how you feel, you’re passive aggressive in your communication, yell when you’re unhappy or make any other communication mistake you’re building a shaky foundation for your relationship.
Examine how you communicate with your partner. Ensure that your goal is always to have them clearly understand your thoughts and feelings. Actively listen to your partner and repeat back what they’re saying to confirm that you understand them. And be sure to assess what if any changes you need to make to communicate more effectively.
As it’s possible that you could be sabotaging your relationship and not even realize it, it’s important to regularly reflect on your behavior. Examine if your actions are strengthening your relationship or possibly destroying it.
Booth-Butterfield, M. & Sidelinger, R. (2009). “Starting Off on the Wrong Foot: An Analysis of Mate Value, Commitment and Partner “Baggage” in Romantic Relationships”. Human Communication. A Publication of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association. Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.403-419.