5 behaviors a man should never tolerate in a relationship, according to psychology

When it comes to relationships, it’s not always the men who are behaving badly. 

Relationships are a two-way street, after all. Both partners—irrespective of their gender—are entitled to respect. 

But we’re talking about men in particular in this blog, so here are five behaviors that men shouldn’t have to put up with, according to psychology. 

1) Constant criticism is just not cool 

Some people might think that criticizing their partners sometimes is healthy and that it’s a nudge—or downright push—to compel them to improve. 

You might tell your man to tuck his shirt in better, or to sit up straight, or to do something about that protruding belly. 

For one thing, you’re not his mother, and for another, your partner isn’t a child. 

What might happen is that they end up moving out. 

Constant criticism can be so damaging that it could very well predict an impending divorce, says therapist and relationship researcher John Gottman. 

It can also spell disaster for non-married couples too, experts say. 

“Criticism is when a complaint is expressed as a character flaw,” says Zach Brittle who is a Seattle-based therapist, and also the host of the podcast “Marriage Therapy Radio.”

But if we’re constantly pointing out our partner’s flaws, it actually says more about us than it does about them, says relationship coach Kyle Benson. 

“It’s much easier to poke our partner by telling them that they’re the one with the problems, than to drop our shield or criticism and say, ‘My needs are not being met, help me,” Benson says in his blog, “Criticism Kills Relationships: Why This Habit is Poisonous.”

If you have a habit of lashing out and criticizing your partner no matter what they do—this could be the way they dress, their sex drive, their job, their family and friends, an aspect of their personality, or their sensitivity—then this can be a form of emotional abuse, experts say.

2) Disrespect is a definite deal-breaker

Many years ago, I used to work with someone who was having a hard time adjusting to married life. 

Melanie (not her real name) was newly married and had left her friends and family in Oklahoma to be with her husband who lived a thousand miles away just outside Toronto. 

Her husband, Matt, was a very easy-going guy and often ready to please. Whenever Melanie complained and vented about her new job in education and how different the Canadian system was from the United States, Matt patiently listened and was supportive. 

The stress of the move, being newly married, and missing her family and friends back home materialized as complaints about her new life. It seemed like everything about her new life annoyed her. Including Matt. 

Suddenly everything he did wasn’t good enough.

The more patient he was with her the more problematic her behavior towards him became. 

Finally, Matt had had enough. 

I remember Melanie confiding Matt’s words to me like it was yesterday.

“My name might be Matt, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a doormat,” he declared to her in a tone that meant business. “Something has to change or this marriage is going to be over even before it’s getting started.”

It was a turning point. Melanie started to take ownership of how she was behaving and began to find ways to better adjust to her new life.

She didn’t want to ruin her relationship with Matt. 

Matt standing up for himself and expressing what he refused to tolerate in their relationship helped the couple to start over on better footing. 

3) Coupling up shouldn’t be about coercive control 

your relationship isnt worth it 5 behaviors a man should never tolerate in a relationship, according to psychology

Back in 2015, a survey called the National Intimate Partner and Sexial Violence Survey found that 36.6 million women and 33.1 million men in the United States will experience some form of coercive control by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Coercive control can be something like monitoring a partner’s activities, such as who they socialize with and even what they wear.

It could also be demanding access to their phone, computer, and email accounts. 

“[They] may also try to convince their partner that they want to check up on them because they love them,” says Louise Morales Brown from Medical News Today. “However, this behavior is not part of a healthy or loving relationship.”

Coercive control can also involve insulating the other person, adds Morales Brown. 

“Insults serve to undermine a person’s self-esteem,” she says. “This may involve name-calling, highlighting a person’s insecurities, or putting them down.”

4) Authoritative jealousy is also a “no can do”

There’s jealousy and there’s authoritative jealousy.

So what’s the difference?

Jealousy—even though it has a negative connotation—is actually very human.

For example, it can be easy to feel a pang of jealousy if you happen to catch your man chatting to an attractive woman across the room at a party. 

You know nothing’s going on. But you can’t help but feel that wave of jealousy wash over you like, well, slime.

Authoritative jealousy, on the other hand, is an action that controls someone because of that feeling of jealousy. 

“If your partner is so jealous that they try to prevent you from doing certain things, that isn’t OK,” says Emily Brady from Family Share. “It’s understandable if your [partner] doesn’t like you sitting out to lunch with an [ex-partner], but if they won’t let you go to lunch with friends, that’s a big red flag.”

Your partner should trust you and your relationship enough to allow you to be your own person, even when they’re not around, says Brady. 

5) Always being accused of cheating

Many men who are in dysfunctional relationships are routinely accused of cheating—even when they haven’t done anything of the kind and there is no cause for suspicion. 

It’s one thing if certain aspects about your relationships with other people make your partner uncomfortable (which is when you should certainly listen to their concerns and evaluate how your behavior is hurting them).

But experts say that if your partner is acting on insecurity alone, then that’s a deal-breaker.

“Projection is a very low-level coping skill,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Paul DePompo, PsyD, ABPP.  “People that do things themselves like cheat, think about cheating, or have cheated in the past, project these thoughts of desire into their partners. Their mind ends up creating a reality that their partner is cheating as well.”

If you’re dealing with all of the above, it may be time to throw in 

No doubt every relationship on the planet takes work and compromise from both partners, some problems and issues can be so toxic that you simply shouldn’t tolerate them, say Rachel Sanoff and Kathleen Ferraro from Bustle, where they interviewed a number of psychologists. 

“Recognizing which issues veer into the toxic side of things can be hard, but knowing about what to look out for ahead of time, as well as checking in with people you trust, can be helpful in the long run.”

Picture of Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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