It doesn’t matter how great things are with your partner, no relationship is immune to a break up. This doesn’t just go for every day romantic relationships, but new and old marriages alike.
So before we go on, we recommend that you continue being diligent and invest in your partner and your relationship. You may be best friends with a bond that’s founded on deep-rooted love and trust, however, certain habits can gradually weaken your relationship over time. Here are the 10 common habits that can lead to a break up.
1. Withholding Affection
It happens in every relationship—you’re in the middle of an argument and you’re overwhelmed and frustrated. But after things cool off and you and your partner are reconciled, you might find yourself struggling to get over the fight. Often, the next time your partner wants to be intimate or show physical care, you feel the need to withhold affection; this may be as simple as refusing a hug or kiss. You may not be intentionally trying to punish the other person, but refraining from normal shows of affection can create emotional distance between you and your partner.
If you’re struggling to physically reconnect after an argument or rough spot, let your partner know where you’re at and try to figure out what needs to happen before you’re ready to connect again. Maybe you need some time to feel ready to trust them again or maybe you’re feeling especially vulnerable. No matter how you feel or wherever you’re at, respect your personal boundaries and emotions. Just keep the lines of communication open, otherwise, you both might start feeling resentful and rejected which is harmful in a relationship.
2. Taking Your Anger Out On Your Partner
We tend to take our anger out on the people we love the most. Often, it’s because of proximity; they’re physically close to you and become easy targets for anger. Other times, it’s because you believe they’re the only one who can handle your anger and won’t leave you. But aggression always hurts the receiver and the relationship. No matter where your rage is coming from, your partner is the last person who should be forced to absorb your feelings in their rawness—that kind of behavior isn’t loving and can escalate to emotional abuse if left unchecked.
If you’re having a bad day or experiencing a lot of anger, try to calm down before going to your partner. Maybe spend your drive home praying, talking things out, or listening to calming music. You know best what helps minimize your ange, so try doing those things before talking to your partner. You may still be angry when you connect with them, but it won’t be the raw aggression you were initially feeling.
3. Never Taking Blame
No one is perfect. Likewise, no one is wrong all the time. But sometimes we behave as though our partner is to blame for most things that are wrong in a relationship. If you know you’re not in a toxic relationship, but find yourself casting or taking blame for almost every fight or issue, you or your partner may need to work on taking responsibility when things go wrong.
In healthy relationships, fights usually end with both people apologizing and taking partial blame for what happened. Even if it feels uncomfortable to do so, try apologizing first or encouraging your partner to acknowledge their part to play in a fight. This tends to feel awkward the first few times, but practice owning up to things quickly and authentically so your partner knows it’s also safe and desirable to do so, too.
4. Not Listening
Listening well is one of the foundational characteristics of a healthy partner. Listening well is how we learn about the other person, understand their quirks and patterns, and determine how to best support them. It’s also how we build trust in relationships. But listening is something that each partner must practice and value; it’s a selfless act of care and love and allows the other person’s voice to be heard.
If someone feels ignored in a relationship, they end up feeling that their emotions aren't important to you—and consequently, neither is the relationship. When your partner is talking, stop doing other things like texting or walking around; be intentional and give them your full attention.
When things in life get stressful, we all have coping mechanisms we run to. Some of us go for a run, call a close friend, or go online shopping. Some of us clam up or become very silent in response to stress--this is a relatively common coping mechanism that can feel harmless at times, but can potentially cause irreparable harm to your relationship. You may withdraw for a few minutes, hours, or days, but with each passing moment, the tension between you and your partner can build up and lead to a heightened emotional outburst. The silent treatment can also result in both people coming up with worst case scenarios about the relationship or not giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.
In all things, try your hardest to resist the temptation to close up and become silent when things are rough. Even if what you have to say to your partner may be difficult for them to hear, be open and honest. It’s helpful to take an especially kind tone or change your environment when sharing a difficult truth, so try new ways to soften any blows. Just make sure you talk and don’t go quiet.
6. Holding Your Partner To Unrealistic Expectations
Expectations can make or break a relationship. Some may be reasonable and innocent like expecting your partner to wish you happy birthday or clean up after themselves when they make a mess in the kitchen. Other times, we unintentionally hold expectations in our minds that we want our partner to fulfill like having your dinner ready when you come home or being your total emotional support system.
Even if expectations are communicated and agreed upon, you and your partner will always fail at keeping them consistently—you’re human and will make mistakes sometimes. If you believe your partner should fulfill expectations 100% of the time, frustration will undoubtedly arise.
Remember that your relationship and partner doesn’t exist to make your life easier; in fact, sometimes your partner will disappoint you or make your life harder and vice versa. Practice patience as often as you can and encourage your significant other to do the same. Work on identifying unreasonable expectations you’ve felt or imposed on the other person; address how those unrealistic expectations can be adjusted to introduce more health into your relationship.
7. Trying To Change Your Significant Other
Everyone changes with time. Sometimes, those changes sneak up on us and we realize that the person you’re with is different than when you first met. That’s common! We usually grow alongside our partner and fall into more mature patterns of love and affection. Sometimes, you or your partner changes in a way that the other person doesn’t like which leads to conflict. For instance, whether your partner always stayed out late with his friends or just started doing it, if you don’t like it, you’re likely to want that to stop. Or, maybe you’ve always wished your partner was just a little bit different or dreamed that they’d change to match the image of them you fell in love with. It’s easy to want to change your partner if you’re in this dilemma. Naturally, they will be resistant to calls for change, especially if they’re content with the things you’re trying to change.
No matter the circumstances, it’s important to be honest about the tension. Examine your own heart and mind—maybe you’re actually the one who changed and your partner didn’t. Maybe you’re dissatisfied with something else and not the thing about them that makes you upset. Do the work of self reflection. And when you have a clear idea of what the real issue is, you may not need to do anything. Or you may want to chat with your partner about things.
8. Compare Your Relationship With Others
We compare ourselves with others all the time. When we’re emotionally healthy, we can celebrate the happiness and success of others without feeling like they’re a threat to our own happiness. We can look to others with openness and use them as motivation to work harder at our own personal goals.
But if we compare ourselves with others constantly, we can fall into the trap of feeling less than others and jealous of them. When it comes to relationships, that comparison can lead us to see the happiness of others, and focus on the things in our own relationships we don’t like. We can grow bitter, negative, and ultimately sabotage our relationship. Remember, no one’s life is as clean and perfect as it’s depicted on social media or in group chats. Focus on how you can cultivate more health in your own relationship and avoid spending too much time on platforms that make it easy to see and compare your relationship to others’.
9. Lack of Gratitude
We all do fun and thoughtful things for our significant other periodically. When that happens, it’s natural for the doer to expect some form of appreciation for the thoughtful gesture. But when that doesn’t happen, discontentment or resentment may grow. While we never set out to do something nice simply to hear the other person say thank you, verbal gratitude is a great way to affirm and show appreciation for the good deed.
Don’t hesitate to thank your partner for the things they do and say that make you feel loved; this ensures that their kindness doesn’t go unnoticed. Build the gratitude muscle by starting with simple things like thanking them for getting groceries or walking the dog when you’re sick; that way, you don’t forget to thank them for bigger things they do and say to make you feel especially loved and cared for.
10. Refusing To Compromise
Avoid division in your relationship by modeling compromise. Sacrifice is mutual, not one-sided, and it’s necessary for relationships to grow and flourish. Even couples in long-term relationships don’t see eye-to-eye on everything and often face disagreements that require some level of compromise. Sacrificing your own comfort or preferences can be tough sometimes, especially on issues you feel strongly about. But without ongoing compromise marked by good will and good intent, you and your partner may face issues that create division because you both can’t seem to find a good middle ground.
Make the conscious choice to recognize and celebrate your significant other’s differences. Those differences make them unique and are a special part of the person you love. Even when you don’t see eye-to-eye, remind yourself that compromise doesn’t always feel easy, but it’s always worth it in the end.
If you or your partner consistently practice any of these habits, it doesn’t mean your relationship is guaranteed to end! It simply means that you’re both human and have areas you can grow in. Embrace the process of holding each other accountable to avoiding bad relationship habits, and be sure to offer plenty of grace and forgiveness when there are mistakes. We’re rooting for you, friend!