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7 Things That Might Be Killing Your Relationship

7 Things That Might Be Killing Your Relationship

Relationships don’t go bad overnight. There are subtle and destructive behavior patterns which erode the bond between spouses or partners. These toxic attitudes can turn a fairytale relationship into an MMA Super Fight.

But not all is lost. When particular destructive patterns of behavior are identified and addressed, a relationship on life support can become healthy again.

Know how to identify these 7 things that might be killing your relationship, so you can catch trouble before it starts.

1. Mind reading

The easiest way to set a relationship on a death spiral is to play armchair psychic. Mind reading takes a posture of assumption instead of listening, judgment instead of compassion.

When we try and read the thoughts, motives, and intentions of another person, their voice is taken away. It dehumanizes the partner and does not give them room for explanation. We all struggle with this one because it’s easier to play “mind reader” than listen to your partner.

If you say, I know why you did this… there’s a possibility mind reading has entered the relationship.

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2. Criticism

Relationship expert John Gottman, who wrote The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, is known for determining the success of a marriage within five minutes of meeting the couple. One of the deciding factors is evidence of criticism.

Gottman knows couples will complain in their relationships. But he differentiates complaining from criticism. Criticism is more “global” because it attacks the person and not their behavior.

So, how do we know if criticism has crept in? An example would be, “The reason you didn’t pick up the kids is not because you forgot. It’s because you are a terrible father.”

Know how to spot criticism, because it could be killing your relationship.

3. Unrealistic expectations

When you begin a relationship there are certain underlying expectations. These boundaries get wrapped up in behavior and action. This might be particular chores around the house, how money is spent, or how children are disciplined.

Problems emerge when these expectations become unrealistic and the partner feels crushed under the weight of their failing behavior. Most likely this will lead to an unhealthy relationship.

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As explained in the article “5 Rules for a More Trustworthy Relationship”, setting unrealistic rules on a spouse or partner is guaranteed to build distrust into the relationship. Healthy and agreed-upon rules and boundaries should free the other person, not enslave them. They should allow the partner to flourish, not flounder.

When you constantly criticize and remind the other person about the “rules,” you are not loving them. When you attack their behavior, never leaving room for grace and correction, this relationship killer might rear its ugly head.

4. Control

The desire to control your partner, according to “5 Relationship Killers,” is rooted in fear and insecurity. A controlling attitude has more to do with us, and less with the partner.

When control enters a relationship, an underlying fear is buzzing behind the surface. It may be fear of not knowing the future. Fear of abandonment. Fear of being seen as a terrible spouse.

Until we get a handle on our own insecurities the partner will suffer.

If we constantly say “Don’t do that,” or “Stop doing this,” we might be a control freak.

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5. Comparison

With the ease of staying in touch with past relationships through Facebook, text messages, and other social media, the temptation of comparison is great.

Comparing your current partner with a former relationship is a guaranteed disaster. The comparison is unfair. No one person is the standard for all relationships. If they were so great why did the relationship not work out?

Testing your current relationship, based on a prior one, is a good way to kill your relationship before it begins. Relationships are complex because of timing, maturity of the partner, and emotional stability. These factors change over time.

If you find yourself searching Facebook or daydreaming about past partners you might need to address this relationship killer.

6. Routine

All relationships get stale. When partners get comfortable with one another they stop doing the little things. According to “5 Most Overlooked Relationship Killers”, boredom and disinterest set in.

But this is normal. It just means we need to mix it up. Maybe we need a new routine. A date night every Friday night. A vacation to an exotic locale. Taking up a hobby together. Or finding different ways to communicate with one another.

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Routine doesn’t need to have the last say in a relationship. Identify it. Mix it up. Watch your relationship come back to life.

7. Stonewalling

Gottman says, “Stonewalling is about putting up defenses”, and “emotionally disengaging” from the relationship. Every relationship will have conflict and strife on different levels. But, if we stonewall, we are emotionally removing ourselves from the other person.

When conflict arises in the relationship, do we walk away, try to change the subject, or go to the bar? Or, do we allow ourselves to be present in the disagreement?
The greatest gift we can give our partner is to be present emotionally.

Are these relationship killers present in your life? If so, acknowledge them, and set a time to discuss with your partner. This will ensure long-term health, happiness, and stability in all your relationships.

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Last Updated on July 15, 2020

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

How to Let Go of Toxic People in Your Life

“Entitlement is an expression of conditional love. Nobody is ever entitled to your love. You always have a right to protect your mental, emotional, and physical well-being by removing yourself from toxic people and circumstances.” -Dr. Janice Anderson & Kiersten Anderson

It’s not always obvious if you have someone toxic in your life. A toxic relationship is one that is harmful to you. A toxic person can create distress to the degree you feel inadequate and isolated. So, what makes a toxic person?

A toxic person has toxic behavior, meaning it’s not that the whole person is toxic[1]. It’s what they do that counts. Most toxic people run from accountability and misrepresent reality to you. They misrepresent your worth and your ability to heal from them can be stifled the longer you keep them in your life. You have a role to play with it as well; if your values are dismissed by them and you don’t act on it, you have allowed room for toxicity to grow.

When you are in a toxic relationship, you feel less than. You feel as though you are not worth anyone’s time or effort. You feel unheard, and sometimes you feel unsafe. You don’t feel good about yourself in a toxic relationship, whether it be with a partner, friend, or family member.

You may stay in a toxic relationship for a number of reasons. You may believe yourself to be a burden, have a lack of boundaries, resist change, fear conflict, try to be a people pleaser, find yourself codependent, or are partially stuck in a pattern or unhealthy cycle of abuse.

Letting go of toxic people may not be easy. In order to do so, you have to know why or how they are toxic to you and read between the lines that they do not have your best interests in mind.

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Letting go of toxic people is hard because you are good and want to see the good in others. You think their apologies are authentic. You have trouble believing they are being dishonest. You don’t spend time healing from it. You get pulled back into the pain because you don’t want it to end. However, if you feel like something isn’t right, it probably isn’t right.

You should walk away from a toxic person because you need to preserve your peace. You need to feel like yourself again. And you need better support.

Letting go of toxic people can involve four major steps.

1. Recognize the Red Flags

Red flags are signs a person is being toxic. It’s when someone shows characteristics that you should feel caution about. It’s when you feel any level of dissatisfaction and distrust. Trust your gut. When you recognize red flags, you can evaluate whether a person is trying to manipulate you or not. This gives you some level of control over what you allow in your life. The earlier you detect these behaviors, the better off you will be.

Red flags can include:

  • They always put themselves first.
  • They point out imperfections and sabotage your self-esteem.
  • You may feel drained or used when you’re around them.
  • What you give isn’t reciprocated. They don’t return the goodness you provide as a friend.
  • They ignore your boundaries and get angry when you tell them “no.”
  • You catch them in half truths or outright lies when you confront them about anything.
  • You are the villain; they are the victim.
  • Second chances always lead to repeated patterns of behavior.
  • They may engage in abuse.

2. Set Boundaries

There are emotional boundaries that one can set, but there are also physical ones[2]. You can leave any time. Setting boundaries is also an important part of self-care.

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You shouldn’t walk on eggshells. Tell them how you feel. Are they respecting you, fulfilling your needs, and listening to you? If not, it’s time to set up a healthy emotional distance and start letting go of toxic people around you.

There are levels to this. You have your inner circle, which could include family, and then you have acquaintances and strangers. If a toxic person is in your inner circle, it’s time to pull back and put up some boundaries for them to follow. If they can’t hear you out, you can cut off the connection completely.

You can give second chances, but you have to be careful. If someone knows they can get away with something, they will do it again. If there’s any chance for the relationship, they have to know not to cross certain lines.

3. Invest in Yourself

You deserve to know you are worthwhile. Try to remember that things will get better and that anything is possible. How do you do so? Invest in yourself.

This means self care, goal setting, surrounding yourself with positive support, and feeling a sense of peace. Your greatest ambition should be to love yourself. Without self-love, letting go of toxic people will be difficult.

Every relationship is a risk, but if you know yourself and what you will allow, toxic people will have less of a hold over you. If you are a giver or people pleaser, you are most at risk to being in a one-sided relationship. You shouldn’t be punished for caring, but sometimes trust needs to be earned. If you have self-love, you are treating yourself the best way possible. You know that others need to meet your standards; otherwise, they don’t get to be a part of your life.

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It’s possible that you can love yourself and still not see the signs. It can be difficult for some to be aware that toxic people exist. However,, if you know how much you mean to others in your life and what you are worth, you will be less likely to take on a relationship that is harmful to you or repeat negative patterns. Self-love is how we get out of toxic relationships, but it’s also how they never begin.

4. Know When Forgiveness Is Possible

There are times a person will prove their worth to you. They may make a mistake that makes them seem like a horrible person. They may forget to be good to you because of their own issues. They may just have no example of what a healthy relationship looks like. They may have an inflated ego that really comes from insecurity. The list goes on.

If they apologize, that’s a start. Look at their actions. Are they changing for the better because they really want to change or just seeming to in order to manipulate you? A person may control others with their image or perceived personality, but if you see through them, you may be able to discern the degree to which they are willing to be there for you.

If they start to do the right thing, you may begin to trust them again. Don’t start forgiving them until time has passed and you are sure there is growth, even if they show vulnerability or remorse. You can give a second chance if they truly have an awakening. Otherwise, it’s best to get out. Don’t let them walk all over you; let them walk out the door.

If you do give a second change and they still refuse to change, you have every right to remove them and continue the process of letting go of toxic people. The moment you even want to leave may also be a good time to get out. You don’t have to compromise yourself in order to care for them.

Forgiveness is the release of resentment or anger[3]. Forgiveness doesn’t mean reconciliation. You have to go back to the same relationship or accept the same harmful behaviors from someone. You don’t have to let them back in. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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Remember, forgiveness is ultimately for you, not them. You don’t need that person in your life in order to forgive them, and if you give them a second chance, proceed with caution.

Final Thoughts

Recognize the red flags, set boundaries, invest in yourself, and know when forgiveness is possible. This is how you cope with a toxic person impacting your life. You have power in the direction of your life and the people who accompany you as you move forward. Use it.

If a person is worthwhile, they will prove themselves through their actions, not their words. If they cross certain lines that really harm you, you owe them nothing. You have every right to feel what you feel and to be upset. Honor your feelings and communicate them because it’ll only continue to keep happening if you don’t.

If this is happening to you, it’s time to put a stop to it. It’s time to take control. It’s time to live for yourself, not for what others say about you. It’s time to set your standards higher than they’ve ever been before. And most of all, it’s time to let go.

Resource reminder: A physically abusive relationship is ALWAYS toxic. There are resources for you. Always speak up.

If you are in such a cycle or domestic violence or abuse reach out for help. For example, there is The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) which can be reached at 1−800−799−7233. There are other ways to get help if you simply ask for it. 

More Tips on Letting Go of Toxic People

Featured photo credit: Hannah Busing via unsplash.com

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