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Five toxic habits that are silently killing your relationship

Personally I blame the movies. And romance novels. They have set an unrealistic expectation of what relationships should be like

Zeta Yarwood

Published: Updated:

All relationships and marriages go through their ups and downs. All of them. Some of them might last a few hours or days. Some of them much longer. Believe anything else and you are setting yourself up for disappointment in a big way.

Personally I blame the movies. And romance novels. They have set an unrealistic expectation of what relationships should be like. That relationships are explosively dramatic, full of excitement, passion and undying love that knows no bounds and defies all odds – forever and ever and ever…. Unfortunately, this is not the case. At least not in the real world. Don’t get me wrong. Relationships can be good. Some even great. But only if both parties are willing to put in the constant hard work and effort it takes to make them so.

Unfortunately, we’re not taught how to make relationships work at school or university. In fact, we learn most of our relationship behaviours and habits from modelling our parents. Or other significant role-models in our lives. So if your parents don’t or didn’t have a great relationship – there is a chance you might experience relationship issues too. Not because you are a bad person. Simply because you have learnt some habits and behaviours that could be toxic to a relationship.

Toxic Habit No 1 – The Blame Game

Blaming your partner for how you feel is the number one relationship killer. You and you alone are responsible for your emotions. Nobody can control how you feel except you.

How you feel is determined by the meaning and the interpretation you give to everything in your life. For example, let’s say your partner didn’t take out the trash and you get upset. Did your partner ‘make’ you feel upset? No. What happened is you interpreted him not taking out the trash as him not loving you. And it’s that interpretation - “he doesn’t love me” – that makes you feel sad. Not the trash still being in the kitchen.

So before you start blaming the other person for how you feel – check your interpretation first. What else could it mean? Could it mean perhaps he was so busy trying to get to work on time so he can provide for his wife and family that he simply forgot?

Toxit Habit No 2 – Keeping Score

“You didn’t stand up for me again. Just like that time at Sarah’s barbecue in 1996. And at Jimmy’s birthday in 2001. And at Tom and Jane’s wedding in 2004.” Using the past to try and make someone feel really bad in the present is manipulation. Not exactly behaviour conducive for a loving relationship, is it? Focusing on the problem of the present and explaining how your interpretation of their behaviour has made you feel is a better way to manage conflict than bringing out the scorecard.

Toxic Habit No 3 – Threatening to leave the relationship

Blackmailing the other person or giving constant ultimatums (“Do this otherwise I’m leaving” or “I’m not sure if I can be in a relationship with someone who does that”) is extremely harmful to any relationship. Solid relationships are built on love and trust. How much room is there for trust when one person is constantly threatening to leave unless things are done their way? This is manipulation to the max and in my mind the death of any relationship. People are who they are. Either learn to accept the behaviour or leave. Trying to control the other person’s behaviour will only end in disaster. You can only poke a bear so many times before it strikes back.

Toxic Habit No 4 – Throwing money at the problem

Instead of tackling the problem head on and working through it, many people throw money at it. “Let’s go on holiday”, “Here, darling. I just bought you a brand new rolex / car / Louis Vuitton handbag.” Basically, “Let’s sweep all our problems under the carpet and make ourselves feel good instead!”. Not only are you avoiding the issue, but you’re also subconsciously training your other half to pick a fight with you because they know they’ll be rewarded for it in the end. Not great for any relationship. Communication is the key to everything. Explaining how your interpretation of their behaviour has made you feel and asking them to help you understand if you’re right or wrong is the best way to solve any issue. Remembering to make sure you stay away from the blame game.

Toxic Habit No 5 – Creating drama

Picking fights, getting jealous over your partner’s friendships with the opposite sex, banning your partner from seeing their friends – all so you can create a bit of drama in the relationship – will end your relationship in a heartbeat. I appreciate relationships can become quite dull at times. But creating drama is not the solution. There are other ways to inject variety into your relationship. Or into your life in general. Start a new hobby. Make new friends. Get a new job. Move house. Get a dog. Pick something that will add to your relationship, not subtract from it.

And if you’re creating drama to see how much the other person cares – you are opening yourself up to a whole bag of hurt. People can only put up with being tested for so long. Work on your insecurities – through self-help books, coaching or therapy – and leave your partner out of it. Because while they might have cared to begin with, after continuously being tested, they might end up not caring at all.