Lovebirds all over the world hope that the romantic relationships they’re involved in will last a lifetime. However, relationships that seem to be on a joyous path surrounded by sunshine and strawberries come to a screeching halt when one partner decides to call it quits. Usually there are huge red flags that show people that their relationships are on the decline, but sometimes people self-sabotage their romances.
We think it takes major lies or clandestine infidelities to destroy a relationship, but in reality there are subtle ways we damage our romances without even knowing that we’re doing it. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’re background, you’ve been guilty of at least one of these relationship ruin-ers. Many of us would like to think that we’re pros at dating, but our track records might say different.
We’ve pulled together 15 subtle ways that people in relationships chip away at their own happiness. If you’re currently locked down in love, hopefully you can learn a thing or two that can improve your relationship. If you’re on the other side of the relationship coin and are enjoying the single life, take a few notes so that you’ll be a better partner when you Mr. or Mrs. Right (or Right Now) comes knocking at your door.
I get it, you think that you’re boo is the hottest person on the planet. You aren’t surprised there there are others who feel the same way, but that doesn’t mean that you need to lose yourself in the Land of Jealousy. It’s easy to become ensnared there, constantly looking over your partner’s shoulder for any and every hint of infidelity.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who has cheated and given you signs that that you should be jealous, you may want to have a long, hard talk with yourself and evaluate whether or not this person is right for you. However, if you’re with someone who is loving, loyal, faithful, and dedicated to the continued pursuit of a relationship with you, it doesn’t seem as if you should have any worries on the horizon. Sure, we’d prefer it if those thirsty Instagram chicks would stay off of our man’s page and stop liking all of his cute pics, but we can’t be mad at him if he’s not paying them any attention. Be happy in your relationship and stop looking for things to be wrong when they aren’t.
14Not Giving Yourself (Or Your Partner) Space
When we’re in love we want to spend as much time as possible with our partners. We want to hug them, kiss them, cuddle with them, and just lounge around in the presence as much as we can. We have to recognize that having space is healthy in a relationship, and our partners desire to spend time with friends and family — apart from us — isn’t a bad thing.
Note the word I used: apart. I didn’t say away. It does become a serious issue if your significant other is trying to get away from you. Spending time apart isn’t just something that you should do for the sake of your partner, either. It’s good for you, too. You’ll learn how to appreciate the time you spend with your partner and value their company more. No person should have 100 percent of our time and adoration. It sounds nice, but life isn’t made of the sugar and spice of Disney princess movies. We shouldn’t neglect our time alone, our friends, or our family just because we are in a relationship. Suffocating our partners will cause them to pull away and feel smothered.
13Refusing To Engage In PDA
Face it, not everyone is down for making out in public. However, there are ever people who refuse to hold hands or put their arms around their partners for their own personal reasons. They don’t like watching any other couples engage in PDA (public displays of affection) and they certainly don’t want to do it themselves. The problem is, it’s not just about what one person wants. People have different love languages, and if your partner feels desired when you’re physically affectionate with them, then you should probably put in the effort to do just that.
It may not seem like such a big deal because you cuddle and fawn over them in private. Unfortunately that may not be enough and can cause your partner to go out and seek that affection elsewhere. I’m not saying there is any justification for cheating, but if you keep focusing on yourself and what you want, you may find yourself single once again.
12Using The Silent Treatment After Arguments
Any person in a relationship will tell you that communication is key. After a heated argument, it’s easy to want to distance yourself from your partner and shut them out because you’re seething with anger. While it is healthy to take a few beats, collect your thoughts, and make sure you don’t say anything that you’ll regret in the long-run. The “silent treatment” game just makes your partner feel as if you don’t care about resolving issues.
Becoming emotionally distant, under any circumstance, is going to be detrimental to your relationship. Both parties need to feel that even when things get uncomfortable, there is an open dialogue. Talking through issues is better that having things escalate because of pride. I always say: you can be in love and at peace or you can be in love and at war. I recommend peace, so communicate before your relationship battle becomes an all out war.
11Avoiding Difficult Conversations
There are times when we need to discuss difficult issues with our partners, but instead of facing them head on, we avoid them like the plague. We may be upset with something that they’ve done or need to confess a sin of our own. Instead of creating any sort of conflict in our relationships, we brush things under the rug hoping that no one will notice the huge hill growing underneath it.
Without confronting tough topics our relationships will exist in the shallow end of the pool. People are scared of swimming in the deep end for fear that they’ll get into trouble or drown, so they keep things superficial. Unless you’re looking to date someone casually for a few months, this isn’t any way to live. A serious, long-term relationship will never survive if the people involved can’t open up when things get demanding. This may not seem like a huge issue at first, but will eventually become one.
10Being A Negative Nancy
If you’re a pessimist, you’re a person after my own heart. I, too, struggle with seeing the glass as half full. Fear not! That doesn’t mean that love isn’t in the cards for you, it just means that you’ll have to work on seeing things from a more positive perspective.
Constantly being negative can cast a dark, shadowy cloud over your relationship. It’s not something that floods in all at once, either. Little snide remarks, chopping down your partner’s treetop dreams, or casting backhanded insults for the sake of a few dry-witted laughs may not seem like much of a big deal, but it slowly moves in to change the mood of your relationship. Your partner may grow distant or stop sharing their future plans with you (maybe because they no longer see you in them!). There’s nothing wrong with being a pessimist, but trust me when I say that your life, and your relationship, will thank you wen you begin looking at the world through sunshine sunglasses.
9Telling Your Friends About All Of Your Fights
It’s natural to want to call up your close friends and tell them all about the ins and outs of your relationship. Whether it’s to brag about how wonderful your partner is or to complain when they mess up, people make the mistake of involving too many third parties. There’s nothing wrong with seeking wise counsel if you need help in making decisions or navigating where your relationship is heading in the future, but gossiping about your partner to others can be harmful.
What happens when that argument you had with your significant other is over, but your friends are still upset and no longer like him? Something that was insignificant now to you and your bae is still seen as a major problem by your loved ones. When larger issues come up, sure, run to your mom or bestie to get some sage advice, but if he comes home late after a night out drinking with the boys and you tell your girlfriends he’s the worst boyfriend who ever lived because you swear he’s cheating (but he isn’t), just know that you may forget that moment, but your girls won’t.
8Letting Yourself Go
No one wants to be with a slob…I mean, unless that’s your thing, then more power to you. It’s well-known that as a relationship progresses, our walls come down. We become more comfortable. Women start to let men see them without their makeup on and guys’ belches and farts become something not only reserved for their close friends and roommates. Those are common, little things that every long-ish term couple will go through.
What’s unacceptable is completely letting yourself go because you’ve found someone to date. Not keeping up with hygiene or thinking that you no longer have to look good for your partner because they’ve promised to love you no matter what isn’t healthy. It’s true that your significant other shouldn’t just want to be with you based on what you look like and should be attracted to your heart and soul, but that isn’t a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to become a hot mess.
7Becoming Emotionally Distant
You wouldn’t believe how important it is to ask your partner how their day was when you see them. I know we can get caught up in our own daily activities that occupy our time and stress us out. We become trapped in our own heads and busy trying to figure out how to navigate our own lives that we forget that our partners may be going through the same thing. We can alleviate much of the pressure that we feel in our lives by not only asking for emotional support from our partners, but by being there for them as well.
The byproduct of being emotionally selfish is becoming emotionally distant. We forget to give kisses hello or goodbye, we miss important anniversaries and birthdays, and we become more engaged with answering work emails in bed that we are with intimacy. Unplug from the world, even if it’s just for 10 minutes (I hope it’s more than that, though), to connect with your significant other before you’re trapped in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
6Choosing Technology Over Attention
Technology is everywhere! Smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, Apple watches, Fit Bits, video game consoles, 3D televisions…I don’t remember what life was like to actually be disconnected from everyone on the planet. In the blink of an eye you can have directions anywhere because Siri will tell you, and Alexa will put on your favorite music or answer difficult questions with just a simple, audible request.
We’ve become a culture attached to screens. People walk down the street running into one another because they’re staring at their cell phones, unable to detach themselves from the the steady flood of information. People would rather keep up with one another on social media than actually get together, and this can take its toll on romantic relationships. Take the time to put your phone on silent (or just turn it off) and spend time with your significant other. You’ll realize how much you want their attention and how much they missed yours.
5Not Being An Active Listener
Do you know how to actively listen? People often mistake this with just sitting in silence and letting someone else talk while they themselves let their imaginations run wild. We’ve all done it. We think about what we’re going to eat for dinner because we don’t really feel like cooking. We wonder how much laundry we can get done before bedtime and how much more work needs to be done in order for us to make our deadlines. All the while the person we love is trying to connect with us, pouring out their heart as we ignore them.
An active listener is present in the moment. You may not necessarily be interested in the subject matter, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t important to your partner. Affirm that you’re listening to them by repeating what they say (in a non-annoying manner), asking questions, and looking them in the eyes. Be happy that your partner is eager to share with you, whether it be some story about the office or their hopes and dreams. As you both continue to actively listen, you become more connected and trust one another more. Those moments are invaluable and it would be tragic if they were lost because you’d rather let your mind wander than be present with your partner.
4Cyberstalking Your Partner Or Their Exes
I know, I know. This one is difficult. With social media at our fingertips, we’re able to gather information about almost any- and everybody. Quick searches of a person’s name can bring up all sorts of information; some that they even wish never happened. No, you aren’t crazy for periodically patrolling through your partner’s social media page. It’s stalking them that’s a problem.
It’s our own insecurities that make us want to compare ourselves to our current partner’s past relationships. We want to know what the person looks like, if they’re more attractive, have better style, a better personality, or a better sense of humor. We can piece together how our significant other’s exes are by going through their social media profiles with a fine-toothed comb. We do the same with our partner, inspecting every comment or like, looking for hints that someone wants to take our bae. It only causes anxiety in our own lives, and breeds negativity in our relationships. You may think that you’re just trying to protect your relationship from those that may try to infiltrate and destroy, but the truth is you’re bringing down the walls from the inside.
3Getting Personal During Arguments
We’ve all heard the phrase “fighting fair,” but not everyone knows exactly what that means. Arguments can get heated, and I mean set-on-fire-burn-the-house-down-and-dance-in-the-ashes heated. Some fights between partners can get so bad that you don’t think that they can come back from them with their relationship intact.
What we need to do when arguing it to address the issue at hand and not take low blows to our partners. We’re mad at the subject matter and we’re angry with the issue, but sometimes those things are wrapped up into our relationship so it’s easy to make things personal. If you’ve been nagging your boyfriend to pick up after himself and it’s turned into a WWE screaming match in your living room, it’s best not to insult his hygiene habits and compare him to your oh-so-neat ex. Name-calling is off limits, and so is bringing up past problems that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. This way you can vent your anger and at the same time come up with a solution. You won’t have to come back in 30 minutes with your tail between your legs regretting the awful things you said about a person you promised to cherish.
2Trying To Change Someone To Fit Your Liking
You chose to be with your partner. Your partner chose to be with you. You both accepted each other just as you are. It’s apart of the attraction that keeps you together, and that’s a beautiful thing. What’s even better is that the two of you are going to grow together, and separately. If you’re willing to ride the waves of life by each other’s side, it’ll be a wonderful experience.
This is when everyone collectively “Awww”s.
The reality is the more we love someone and spend time with them, the more things we often want to change. “He’s so smart, he should totally have a better job,” or “She’s so beautiful but I wish she wouldn’t wear so much makeup.” You like them, love them even, but there are these minor details that we’re hoping over time we can shape. Maybe your boyfriend is the smartest person in the world but at the moment, he absolutely loves his job. It’s your place as his partner to support him where he is and help him with the ambitions that he has for his future. Maybe your girlfriend is the most gorgeous woman to have ever walked the earth, and if she wants to pile on her makeup because it’s fun for her, she should be able to. Just make sure to remind her of how beautiful she is when she takes it all off.
1Being A Perfectionist
Make sure your “i”s are dotted and your “t”s are crossed, because if everything isn’t in their proper places, the world is going to implode. Okay, obviously I’m just kidding, but for people who identify as perfectionists, it can sometimes feel that way. Keeping their homes and workplaces in a certain manner is easier than dealing with people because human beings are unpredictable. There are emotions and feelings involved, and no matter how much a perfectionist wants a person to fit into their box, it’s impossible because there are too many variables involved.
Striving for perfection isn’t wrong, but thinking that everything needs to be perfect will leave you disappointed, especially when you’re dealing with matters of the heart. Your partner will never measure up, and you’ll find yourself criticizing and critiquing them more than lifting them up and making them feel wanted. Nitpicking at them hoping that they’ll fit the mold that you’ve created in your mind stifles their growth and will leave you dating a pawn, not a partner.