Relationships can be tough. After all, you’re essentially combining two individual lives into a unique type of partnership, where you’re supposed to be this new united front but still maintain your own individual identity. It can be difficult to navigate, and since everyone brings their own baggage and vulnerabilities into every relationship, every situation is different – so you might not always know what you’re getting.
However, one thing is for sure – there are certain habits and behaviours that help to strengthen the bond between you and your partner, and then there are certain habits and behaviours that are straight up poisonous. Everyone is entitled to make mistakes every now and then, or make a frustrated comment, but if you find yourself continually doing many of the things on this list, that’s a warning sign that your relationship is slowly being poisoned. Perhaps it’s something that you know is bad, but you just can’t help yourself. Perhaps it’s something you don’t even realize you’re doing. Whatever the behaviour and whatever the reasoning, you need to take a look at your relationship and stop engaging in their poisonous habits if you want things to look like the ending of a rom com rather than the sad opening scene.
It’s no secret that sometimes, even people in the most secure relationships feel a little bit insecure. Perhaps it’s because you met your partner’s new co-worker, and she basically looks like a supermodel. Perhaps it’s because you feel like your partner has been acting a bit suspicious and you’re wondering why he’s constantly on his phone but seems to be hiding it. Everyone knows the logical thing to do is to just be honest and communicate with your partner – tell him that you’re curious about why he’s behaving differently or tell him you’re feeling a little bit insecure, and chances are, he’ll reassure you that you have nothing to worry about – and if you trust him, that should be enough. Snooping accomplishes nothing. If you don’t find anything, you’ll have violated your partner’s trust and will probably feel awful. If you do find something, you’ll have to admit that you only found it because you were snooping. It’s just a lose lose, so you need to stop.
14. Letting your jealousy take over
There are certain individuals who tend to be more jealous than others, but come on – anyone in a relationship has probably felt a pang of jealousy once or twice. It’s natural – but that doesn’t mean you should let your jealousy monster control the relationship. If your partner is constantly opting to spend time with anyone else but you, then yeah, that’s an issue – one you need to discuss. However, if you’re just jealous that your partner is having lunch with a friend or spending time with his family, well… you need to check that jealousy. No matter how much you love your partner, no one needs to be with their partner 24/7. You still need time for friends and other people in your life. Plus, if every lunch date or Friday night beer with the guys ends up with you in a jealous rage, let’s be honest – they’re never going to confide in you if you have something to be legitimately jealous about.
13. Going for the jugular during fights
When you’ve been with someone for quite a while, you get to know all the little things about them that they might not feel comfortable confessing to anyone else. You know the things that make them feel vulnerable, you know their fears and deepest insecurities. People share things with their partners because they love them and feel safe sharing their secrets with them. That’s what makes this an incredibly poisonous habit. Look, we get it – when you’re in a relationship, you’re going to fight with your partner. Unless one of you is a robot, little disagreements or arguments happen from time to time. However, if every fight leads to you digging through your mental files of your partner’s vulnerabilities and insecurities and crafting insults designed to wound as much as possible? That’s not cool, and that’s a good way to make sure your relationship might never truly recover from that fight.
12. Constantly complaining
Look, we get it – life can be exhausting sometimes. Perhaps your boss has been hassling you all week for seemingly no reason, and you’re sick of putting in all those overtime hours and just getting blamed for your co-workers’ mistakes. Perhaps you had a long day and traffic was just absolutely awful. Perhaps your favourite dress ripped and you’re bummed because you know they don’t make it anymore and you can’t buy a replacement. Whatever the reason, everyone in life has a lot to potentially complain about – but that doesn’t mean you need to be constantly complaining. Just think about this – if your partner is a black pit of negativity who constantly complains about every little thing, is that a person you want to be around? Absolutely not! That type of negative energy is toxic to a relationship – so if you want to stop poisoning your relationship, you need to start searching for the silver lining in things, or just realize that in many situations complaining actually doesn’t accomplish anything.
11. Constantly criticizing
This is even worse than constant complaining. Your partner is supposed to be the person who believes in you when no one else does, who supports you and helps build you up when you’re feeling down. Sure, good partners should be able to be honest with one another, and you shouldn’t be walking on eggshells afraid to constructively criticize your partner when they’re doing something you think is detrimental to their health or well-being. However, let’s be honest – most criticism isn’t constructive. It involves nit-picking about things that might frustrate you, and the end result isn’t that your partner changes his habits – it’s probably that you totally destroy your relationship, because who wants to be constantly criticized? If you want to stop poisoning your relationship, here’s a tip – whenever you feel yourself wanting to sharply criticize your partner, perhaps give them a compliment instead — you’ll see them light up and realize that you actually love them and need to stop nit-picking.
10. Ignoring your friendships
Everyone knows the type of girl who disappears off the face of the earth the moment she gets a boyfriend and stops making any plans with her friends – don’t be that girl! Don’t ignore your friends! Look, we get it – those first few months in a relationship are exciting, full of passion and fun. However, if you start ignoring everyone else in your life but your partner, soon enough, that’ll have a negative impact on your relationship. You see, no matter how fantastic your partner is, most people can’t get absolutely everything they need in their lives from one person. Sure, your partner makes you feel loved and wanted and happy – but he might not want to come to spin class with you like your BFF. He might not love dishing about reality television over a glass of wine like your BFF. You need to still make time to nurture the relationships you already have, even when you might be tempted to put all your time and energy into nurturing your budding relationship.
9. Letting everything slide
The concept that many people gain a few extra pounds when they’re in a happy relationship is a known phenomenon for a reason – it happens fairly frequently. Listen, it’s normal – and expected – that you get a little more comfortable as your relationship goes on. Once upon a time, you may have hesitated for your guy to see you unless you were all glammed up for a date, feeling and looking fabulous. Then, when you spend more and more time together, you realize that sometimes he’s going to see you just lounging in sweats with a top knot – and that’s totally fine. He should love you even when you don’t look ready for the Victoria’s Secret runway. However, there’s something to be said for making an effort. Taking some time to get all dolled up for your partner is a sign that you appreciate them and you still think they’re special enough to make a little extra effort. Don’t let everything slide just because you get too comfortable – that’s a good way to kill the romance.
8. Keeping score
This is something that tends to happen more in long relationships, but it’s a totally toxic habit. In relationships, everyone makes mistakes – I mean, we’re human, that’s what humans do. However, once you’ve discussed the issue and dealt with everyone’s feelings, that should be it – it should just be erased from your relationship report and remain a thing of the past. Unfortunately, many couples decide to keep a score card – and that’s majorly poisonous to your relationship. What, exactly, is a score card? It’s when you keep mental notes of all your partner’s mistakes in order to bring them up whenever you need ammunition later. The reason people keep score is because they want to make sure their partner knows that they’re the guilty party – they don’t want to be the one who is wrong. Sometimes, in relationships, you’re going to be the one who’s wrong – deal with it and toss that score card in the garbage if you value your relationship.
7. Failing to work on the romance
When you first start dating someone, you put in a ton of effort – you want to look your best, you want to be a scintillating conversationalist, you want to take them on fun dates that will surprise and delight them. It’s quite a process, but it’s a necessary part of the whole courtship period. Unfortunately, many people let all that romance-building effort slide once they get into a relationship, because they feel like they no longer have to impress their partner as much – after all, you got them, why would you work as hard as when you were trying to woo them? Well, that’s a poisonous attitude, and it’s one you need to give up ASAP. You should absolutely work on the romance, no matter what stage you’re at in your relationship – it’s important to nurture that intimate connection through whatever date night activity you both enjoy, whether that be wining and dining or setting up a mini movie marathon in your living room.
6. Always putting your partner’s needs before your own
When you’re in a relationship with someone, it’s because you like them, so it’s only natural that you’d want to make the effort to make them happy – and that’s great. Doing small things for your partner can be a good way to show them that you care and are thinking about them. However, some people make the mistake of constantly putting their partner before themselves, and that’s a good way to poison your relationship. Why? Well, first of all, if your partner doesn’t always put you before themselves in the same way you do, there’s a good chance you’ll be frustrated with them, and might even resent them. Second, frankly, you’ll burn out because you’re so busy trying to meet your partner’s needs that you don’t realize you have needs too. You should absolutely care for your partner and your relationship, just remember to care for yourself as well – you’re pretty important too!
5. Failing to be present
Most women have experienced the moments of frustration when you’re trying to have lunch or watch a movie together and your partner is just scrolling on his phone, or staring at the television in the restaurant, etc. And no one wants to utter the cheesy line “you’re here, but you’re not really here, you know?” so many women just swallow their frustration – and the relationship is slowly poisoned. Listen, everyone needs time to themselves and time to unwind, so you can’t expect your partner to pay rapt attention to you 24/7. However, it’s reasonable to expect their full attention in certain scenarios. So, if you’ve made a dinner date at a hot new restaurant to connect and spend some quality time together, and he can’t stop checking the updates in his sports app? Let him know that that behaviour won’t fly. Otherwise, you’ll end up just never bothering to try to gain your partner’s attention because you know it’s a losing game.
4. Being unreliable
Your partner is someone you should be able to trust and rely on – someone you know you can call with a problem. Sure, you may have other figures in your life who are on your emergency list, like your BFF, but the point is that you should be able to rely that your partner will be there to do something if he says he will. So, having a partner who is constantly unreliable is a huge poison to the relationship. It can start with the smallest things, like always being fifteen minutes late for dates, or not calling to make an appointment for a joint issue when they promise they’re going to. It might seem minor at first, but eventually, all those moments of unreliability will spark bigger questions. Can you count on them, ever? Should you bother to come to them for help? No one wants to put their trust in someone unreliable.
3. Suffocating your partner
When you meet that perfect person, it can be tempting to throw all your other plans away and just spend as much time with them as possible. After all, you’re in that lovey dovey stage when you think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread and you just can’t imagine a better use of your time than simply spending it with them. However, beware the temptation to suffocate your partner – even if it’s well meaning, with affection. Even if you feel like you want to spend every waking moment together, you really shouldn’t – that’s a good way to poison your relationship because seriously, no one needs to spend that much time with the same person. Yes, you should absolutely spend time with your partner – but you should also spend time with your friends and other important people in your life. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder for a reason – you’ll just end up annoyed at one another if you’re constantly attached at the hip.
2. Keeping your feelings secret
Every article about healthy relationships states that you should be communicative with your partner, that you should express your fears and thoughts and concerns. So, why on earth are so many people frightened to share their feelings with their partner? We get it – no one loves conflict, and it can be scary to bring up an issue when you know it might lead to an argument. However, if you want to keep a healthy relationship, you absolutely need to find a way to deal with that fear and share your feelings with your partner. Otherwise, you’ll just keep sweeping things under the rug time and time again until you find yourself with a giant elephant in the room and a poisoned relationship. Plus, since it’s such a big issue, there are countless resources out there that will help teach you exactly how to express your feelings effectively – so you have no one to blame but yourself if you don’t figure it out.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it – lying will absolutely poison even the strongest relationships. That’s because one of the biggest things in any healthy relationship is trust – you need to be able to trust your partner with your safety, with the secrets you share, with your dreams, etc. And trust is a tricky enough thing to build – if something jeopardizes it, it’s nearly impossible to regain. That’s why you should never, ever lie. Don’t lie about working late when you’re actually hanging out with the boys. Don’t lie about going to the gym if you went to have coffee with an old friend. Don’t lie about things to your partner because they’ll just end up not trusting you, and then the relationship is pretty much irreparable from that point. Just tell the truth – sometimes it might lead to tricky conversations, and sometimes it might not be the most comfortable option in the world, but it is without question the only way to go about things if you want a healthy, lasting relationship.