A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

9 Common Behaviors That Are Subtly Sabotaging Your Relationship

Are you guilty of any of these behaviors?

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Making your cell phone the top priority

We live in a culture where we’re constantly checking our cell phones. But, this obsession comes at a cost, and the casualty of a technology obsession can be your personal relationship. “The most prevalent habit that sinks relationships is keeping your cell phone on, and looking at it every time it makes a noise while you’re with your partner,” says Carole Lieberman M.D., a psychiatrist in Beverly Hills, California. “Answering your phone is even worse than just looking at text messages or emails, and this tells your partner that they are not as important as whoever else is trying to reach you.” Dr. Lieberman says a solution is to turn off your phone when you’re having dinner, being intimate, or doing anything else where your partner expects your full attention. Make sure you know these 9 social media mistakes that could ruin your relationship.

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Being jealous

Jealousy within relationships typically comes down to fear of abandonment and not feeling good enough, says Michele Kerulis, EdD, professor of counseling at Counseling@Northwestern, Northwestern University’s online masters in counseling program. “Jealousy can stem from insecurity, lack of trust, fear of betrayal, low confidence, and can linger from past relationships and life experiences,” Dr. Kerulis says. To smooth over a situation, she suggests talking to your partner about your feelings and concerns. “Take the time to have a conversation with your partner about specific situations that made you feel jealous and explain why you believe you felt that way, ” suggests Dr. Kerulis. “If you see patterns of feeling jealous throughout your life, whether it is within romantic relationships, friendships, or with family members, it is a good idea to talk with a counselor to process your feelings and to get a better understanding of why jealousy plays a role in your life.” Check out these 17 signs to find out if you’re the toxic one in your relationship.

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Nagging and complaining

A nagging mate can quickly create tension and division. “I suggest practicing the art of holding your tongue, prioritizing, and considering your approach,” says Melanie Ross Mills, PhD., a relationship expert in Dallas. She advises to consider waiting until a good time to discuss what is bothering you, instead of nagging. “Be patient if he or she is not ready when you are to discuss the matter. Ask them to let you know when a good time might be. You can circle back then, instead of nagging and complaining,” Dr. Mills says.

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Acting ungrateful

It can be challenging to appreciate the small things in your partner. “But, it’s a life discipline to cultivate,” says Dr. Mills. “Seeing the good [he or she does] will help. I suggest making a conscious effort to thank your partner for the small things: from putting the cap back on to earning an honest living with hard work, from taking out the trash to helping prepare dinner for the family,” she adds.

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Lacking communication

Not having an open dialogue or an effective communication system in place can cause feelings of resentment, misunderstanding, hurt, and feeling unappreciated. “Instead of letting the small offenses fester, talk about them when the timing is right,” says Dr. Mills. “Don’t let too much time pass which can cause you to internalize your true feelings. Share with your partner about what is going on with you daily.” These communications skills can help improve the dialogue with your partner.

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Losing yourself in the relationship

It’s common for people to lose their own sense of self if they don’t make an exerted effort to continue to grow, learn, and evolve, says Dr. Mills. “Don’t forget to have your own life. Make time to do things that fulfill you instead of waiting for your partner to get interested in your same interests,” she advises. “Believe it or not, this actually makes you more attractive. You contribute to the relationship dynamic because you have interests, you’re interesting and you’re confident.” Here are the 19 things every marriage counselor won’t tell you about your relationship.

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Fighting with your partner over text message

It’s never fun or desirable to fight with your partner, especially when you are not in the same room, town, or city. “Couples who are in long-distance relationships or couples who just are not in the same vicinity of their partner all the time will most likely engage in text-fighting,” says Gabriella I. Farkas MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine at The Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, New York. “Text-fighting is one of the bad habits that people do that can eventually lead to a downward spiral in a relationship.” She says fighting via text is a terrible way to communicate your feelings for many reasons, including you aren’t sure how your partner is reacting. “So, you will keep texting incessantly even if something that has been said hurts the partner’s feelings,” Dr. Farkas says. “Instead of fighting via text where there is no way to emphasize or relay emotion correctly, it’s important to sit back and wait until there is the opportunity to have the conversation face-to face.”

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Overstepping social boundaries

Speaking on behalf of your partner can create a sense of resentment. This behavior can be intrusive, because making decisions for you partner can be demeaning, disrespectful and impede a person’s sense of self, says an article in Psychology Today. “Without noticing it, we may be intrusive or controlling toward our partner, acting in a manner that is disrespectful or demeaning to the other person’s sense of self. When this happens, it not only hurts our partner and his or her feelings for us but it undermines our strength and feelings for our partner,” the article says.

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Unwilling to try new things

While no one should force themselves to do something they don’t want to do, shutting down the part of ourselves that seeks new experiences and responds to a spark in our partner can drain us of our aliveness and spontaneity, says the same article in Psychology Today. Next, don’t miss these 15 signs your relationship is rock solid.

Erica Lamberg
Erica Lamberg is an experienced travel and business writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Specializing in family travel, cruise experiences, and tips for enriching and affordable vacations. Beyond travel, Erica writes about personal finance, health and parenting topics. Her writing credits include Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Oprah Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Her favorite city is Paris and she dreams about visiting Greece and Israel. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and is married with two children.