In relationships, every couple develops its own pattern. From who takes the lead, how we live with each other, to who cooks dinner when. It’s all part of the “dance” of a relationship.
Patterns and habits are, after all, a natural security blanket for us.
However, we’re also bound to create negative relationship patterns with our partners. Sometimes they’re innocent. Oftentimes they start off as a minor annoyance. But if you’ve been dating for some time, it can be easy to fall into bad habits that can really damage your relationship.
Here are 7 of the most harmful relationship patterns you need to break if you want a healthy, long-lasting relationship with your partner.
1. Ghosting/Clinging when you are fighting.
Arguments are normal. If handled well, they can make you stronger together. But couples tend to fill two roles when they’re fighting: they either go silent or become clingy and pushy.
According to Dr. Paulette Sherman, therapist, and author of Dating from the Inside Out:
“This is one of the most common patterns in my practice. One person will feel like their comfort zone is distance, especially after an argument, while the other will feel like they need to talk right way.”
Do you fill one role while your partner fills the other? If so, you’re probably not resolving your issues the right way.
And when these issues go unresolved, they tend to become the big elephant in the room.
So how do you fix it?
Dr. Sherman advises you to try and communicate using your partner’s pattern.
“People think “if you loved me you’d connect the way I do. It’s better if the person who wants to feel closer would just ask, “What would be a good time for you to talk? That way, the other person has the time they need to regroup.”
2. Blaming your partner.
Ah, another familiar one. Are you fond of playing the blame game with your partner? Is it always their fault and not yours?
According to psychologist and dating coach Samantha Rodman:
“Some couples are in the habit of blaming each other for their own mistakes, no matter what. Example: ‘You left the water running…’ ‘Oh, that’s because you called me away in the middle of washing my hands.’
“This is a toxic habit because when partners are so busy defending themselves and blaming their partners, they lose the chance to be kind to each other and to feel close.
“The opposite of blaming is taking responsibility for your own actions, and that is the hallmark of a mature and emotionally healthy relationship,”
Instead of falling into this habit, try to take accountability for your actions, and talk it out with your partner. Nothing good ever comes out of blaming each other.
3. Complaining to your friends instead of your partner.
Your friends are the perfect soundboard. They are always on your side and it feels good to vent it out. But to your relationship, it does more harm than good.
It puts your partner in an irredeemable light. Not only that, you can create a rift between your friendships and your relationship.
Andrea Syrtash, author of Cheat on Your Husband With Your Husband, has some advice:
“Take the issue directly to your partner and discuss it directly, discussing both or your wants based on your individual experiences and values.”
4. Bottling up your feelings.
Relationships are hard in a sense that, you never want to willingly rock the both. And perhaps you feel like your concerns are more “complaints” than anything.
So what do you end up feeling?
You stay silent to keep the peace. You would rather keep your opinions to yourself than potentially make your partner angry.
But that’s wrong.
A healthy relationship should feel safe enough for you to be honest about how you feel. Open communication is essential in every relationship.
Psychotherapist Jude Treder-Wolff, believes the following:
“Communication is the lubricant in the gears of a relationship, which is a dynamic thing that is something bigger than the people involved. When communication breaks down — whether that is intentional, happens through lack of skill, or fear about what will happen when we open up — the relationship begins to lack the buoyancy and flow that is possible when people are clear and open with one another.”
5. Showing off too much on social media.
There are studies that suggest that frequent use of social media has a negative correlation to people’s levels of relationship satisfaction.
What this means is, the more you try to show off your relationship, the bigger your need is to prove that the relationship is strong. But hey, maybe you just enjoy the dopamine your body receives when you receive that stream of “likes” and “comments.”
Most likely, it runs deeper than that. Maybe it’s your way of compensating or covering up the uncertainty you have about your relationship.
Either way, try to fix your issues rather than oversharing things on social media. Focus all that energy on something more productive.
Happy couples spend less time posting on social media, and more time creating great memories together.
6. Threatening to leave or break up when things get rough.
When you constantly threaten your partner, what does it say about your commitment to your relationship?
It says you’re not really in it for the long haul. And nothing can break a bond more than such a lack of commitment.
Sure, it might feel good to do this when you’re trying to put a point across, or when your partner refuses to listen. But in the end, it just makes you both feel like the relationship is not worth it.
It makes your partner feel “disposable,” that you’re not fighting enough for the relationship.
Avoid doing this at all cost. It’s a dangerous pattern to fall into.
7. Being controlling.
We all have our issues. We’ve had our hearts broken before. And we all have emotional and mental traumas from our past. But no matter how much you’ve been hurt before, you have no right to control someone else’s life – even if they’re your partner.
It might be cute when you tell your partner to come home early because you’re worried for their safety. But when you deliberately create rules or establish ultimatums that change their life, that’s toxic.
Don’t use your past relationships or emotional baggage as an excuse to control your partner.
Instead, deal with your own problems and let your partner live their life. It doesn’t mean they’ll be taken away from you. Giving each other space, having your own identities, friends, hobbies – they’re all essential to having a healthy relationship.
The moment you start playing god, that’s when you start losing someone you love.