If you really want a healthy relationship, say goodbye to these 8 harmful habits

by Marcel Deer | May 6, 2024, 10:14 pm

We all want to be in happy, healthy relationships, don’t we?

But if that’s the case, why is it that so many of us continually do things that damage rather than improve ours?

I think that, for the most part, we don’t know that we’re doing them, or if we know, we seriously underestimate how much damage they can actually do.

If your relationship feels strained or like it’s not going as smoothly as it used to, or you know it could, it’s time to take a step back and look for reasons why. It just might be that some of your own behaviors are tearing things down when they should be building things up.

So, if you really want a healthy relationship, say goodbye to these eight harmful habits and start working on something a whole lot better.

1) Always being together

When I was young, I struggled to keep my relationships for longer than a week or two.

Since I’m incredibly good-looking (JK!), I assume it was something to do with my behavior. And it turns out that I was right.

I used to be what’s termed a smotherer.

As soon as I got into a relationship, I wanted to spend every second with that person. 

While that’s pretty normal, and it was almost always mutual, that initial obsession does and should fade after a short promotional period.

After all, you still have your own lives to lead, and you can’t possibly be a part of absolutely everything the other person is doing, right?

Tell that to Past Me!

I was the type of person who was very clingy and then was hurt if the other person told me they were feeling suffocated.

We all need our space and our personal time. But we also need time to socialize separately.

So, I think that people in healthy relationships respect each other’s need for space and autonomy. 

2) Keeping score

Keeping score in a relationship is a really awful practice, but you’d be surprised just how widespread it is.

What I mean by keeping score is each partner thinking about what they’re putting in and measuring that against what the other is contributing. When this is equal, they might be happy, but if they perceive that they’re doing more, they can feel unhappy and even resentful.

Let me give you an example of keeping a score that tore one relationship apart.

A friend of mine moved to a new city to go to college and also to be with his girlfriend. Before that, they’d had a long-distance relationship for almost a year, and they were happy for the opportunity to finally get together.

Since he moved to her city, they spent most of their time pursuing her activities and hanging out with her friends.

After two years, he was offered an incredible scholarship to a top university in a different city, and it would have been ridiculous to turn down. But when he asked his girlfriend to move with him, she wasn’t at all interested.

He was shocked.

He felt like he had changed everything in his life to fit into hers, and she owed him.

But this kind of thinking wasn’t fair or reasonable at all.

He made his own choices and wasn’t taking responsibility for them. He also wasn’t taking into account how she felt, especially not wanting to leave the place where she felt established.

I think you can guess how that ended up.

A relationship is meant to be a partnership, not a competition, so keeping score is a really bad habit that has no place in a healthy one.

3) Being jealous

I always say that a little jealousy isn’t bad at all.

It’s perfectly natural to want your partner to be most attracted to you and not be looking around for alternatives. It can show your partner that you care and you still want them.

But when jealousy stems from insecurity and low self-esteem, it can start to grow into much more damaging behavior.

People who are insecure feel threatened by potential rivals even though their partners might have absolutely no interest in looking for someone else.

They’ll start to do things like interrogate their partners about where they’ve been and who they’ve met. They may even secretly check their phones or otherwise invade their privacy to feed their own insecurity-based jealousy.

And don’t even get me started on installing spyware on your partner’s phone!

If you have any of these jealous habits, you’re already hurting your partner with your lack of trust. If it continues, you’ll very likely push them away and into the arms of another, which is what you were worried about in the first place.

4) Letting things fester

Some couples know they have problems, but they don’t do anything about them.

Not talking out your issues but hoping they’ll go away on their own is never going to be a solution. The issues will almost always stick around, and the negative feelings they produce will continue to fester like an infected, pus-filled boil.

Then, one day, it will erupt and cover you with – OK, sorry, that was too gross.

But it’s true that issues left unsolved will continue to grow into big problems that you may not be able to get past.

So, putting off talking through your issues really is an unhealthy thing to do.

5) Not fighting

Yep, you read that right!

I am completely and wholeheartedly advocating that couples fight.

With a catch.

This is only healthy if it’s done respectfully and the fights can be appropriately resolved.

And no, I’m not talking about mud wrestling… unless that’s your bag.

Look, you’re different people trying to live together in one relationship, and that’s never going to be perfectly easy. There will be things you disagree on and even things you’ll butt heads about.

But if your solution is to avoid these issues or pretend like they don’t exist, you’re never going to get past some of them.

Fighting doesn’t have to be mean or brutal, either.

Sure, it’s unpleasant when the person you love most in the world isn’t happy with you or you with them, but isn’t it going to be better to say what you need to and get things out in the open?

If you can fight fairly, express yourself assertively without being malicious, and finally find resolutions to your fights, then you can lay big issues to rest and put them behind you instead of letting them hang over you forever.

6) Testing your partner

One really unhealthy and unproductive habit that I’ve only just found out exists is intentionally putting your partner in situations to see how they’ll react.

Testing them, in other words.

The way it works is this.

Say you want to know if your partner is ready to meet your parents, thus bringing your relationship to a new level.

Sure, you could bring up the idea over a chill cup of coffee, but will you get the real answer you’re looking for?

Instead, you could test them by inviting them out to dinner and then – surprise! – your parents are there, too.

While you’d certainly get to see first-hand how they’d react to meeting your folks, this kind of ambush is completely unfair and disrespectful.

If this is the kind of thing you do to your partner, it’s an unhealthy habit you should seriously consider saying goodbye to!

7) Comparing yours to other relationships

There’s not much to say here.

Your relationship is your own. It’s unique because it’s comprised of two (or more – I’m not judging) unique individuals.

While you can take cues from how others relate to each other, negatively comparing your relationship to those of other people is unreasonable and impractical.

And it essentially tells your partner that they’re not doing well enough.

8) Flaking

Letting your partner down again and again is going to have serious consequences.

You might cancel plans or totally flake out on your partner once in a while, but if you do it again and again, you’re sending them a clear message:

You’re not my priority.”

How are they supposed to feel when your words say one thing, but your actions quite clearly say another?

If you’re always making plans with them and then canceling, you need to figure out why. If it’s simply a time management issue, then that’s where you should direct your energy.

However, you might find that deep down, you know they’re not your priority. And if you can’t change that, don’t expect them to be happy and stick around.

Final thoughts

If you really want a healthy relationship, say goodbye to these eight harmful habits that are holding you back.

If you see your reflection in any or many of them, try to make changes one by one. If you see these habits in your partner instead, the only way to make your relationship healthier is to talk about them and try to find ways to improve things.

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