A truly healthy relationship is quite hard to come by.
Most of us aren’t taught the healthy way to relate to others from a young age and find ourselves having to learn by trial and error when we’re older.
We might find ourselves in unhealthy, codependent, or even toxic relationships and wonder – how did I get here?
In reality, though cultivating a healthy relationship isn’t necessarily easy – it is actually quite simple.
Not only does a healthy relationship practice certain habits like respect, trust, and communication. More importantly, it omits some unhealthy behaviors.
These behaviors can lead to conflict, misunderstandings, and overall tension in the dynamic.
These are the 10 behaviors you should say goodbye to if you want a truly healthy relationship:
1) Criticizing your partner
No one wants to be constantly criticized by the person they love.
If you’ve ever been criticized, you’ll know that it doesn’t feel motivating or make you want to be better.
So if your partner does something that upsets you, you could try to frame the message in a healthier way.
Let’s say they always need reminding to take out the rubbish.
Instead of saying something like, “You’re so lazy, you never remember to take the rubbish out”, you could say, “It makes me really upset and stressed when I feel like I have to keep reminding you to contribute to the housework.”
Instead of criticizing your partner’s character and potentially hurting their self-esteem, you’re shining a light on the situation that upsets you.
You’re also focusing less on blaming them for what they did or didn’t do, and more on the impact it has on your feelings and relationship.
This is the fine line between constructive feedback and criticism!
Now, that’s for a situation where you’ve probably repeated yourself a few times.
If you’re broaching a subject for the first time, it’s vital to try to provide support, encouragement, and curiosity alongside constructive feedback.
For example, you can ask what their expectations are around housework and open up a conversation around that.
2) Being avoidant of difficult discussions
On the flip side of being overly critical, sometimes, couples avoid conflict and difficult discussions altogether.
This can sometimes signify a tendency to suppress feelings, for the sake of “peacefulness”.
But the peacefulness is not real if beneath the surface, there’s a storm brewing…
In fact, doing this can lead to piled-up unresolved issues and passive aggression.
Instead, try taking a few deep breaths and addressing conflicts and disagreements in a constructive and respectful manner.
If it’s hard to keep the peace during the discussion, try holding hands or taking turns to express your feelings.
3) Keeping score of who did/ didn’t do what
Definitely don’t do this if you want a healthy relationship: keeping score of who did what!
Treating your relationship with a tit-for-tat mindset will only lead to resentment.
Whatever love is there, will definitely die off if you approach a relationship with this mentality.
Rather, a relationship should inspire both parties to take responsibility for their actions and give to the other without condition.
This space of free giving only inspires more giving, rather than counting each and every generosity or misdeed.
In fact, keeping score can lead to this next behavior you need to say goodbye to:
Sarcastic comments about the other’s behavior.
Treating the other person like they’ve done something wrong without actually talking about it.
All of these things count as passive-aggressiveness.
And it’s super bad for your relationship’s health! It can lead to misunderstandings and unresolved issues galore.
Instead, you need to learn to address concerns openly, directly, and honestly instead of letting them ‘figure it out’ through your resentful actions.
You know this – open and honest communication is one of the most important values of a strong relationship.
That’s why the next behavior is another “must” to say goodbye to:
5) Lack of communication
So, like I’ve said, and will say again: communication is fundamental to a thriving relationship.
What does a failure to communicate, from either person, cause?
Misunderstandings, feelings of neglect, resentment, and assumptions.
But not just communicating about the bad things – failure to communicate gratitude for the good things also creates missed opportunities to deepen your connection.
All of those things are like poison for your relationship!
Try to keep an open dialogue about both the good and bad, to create more understanding and connection with your partner.
6) Controlling behavior
You might not like those weird-colored pants your partner likes to wear.
Or maybe you don’t like the fact that they love to do things that are damaging to their health, like drinking a lot.
It’s understandable to want the best for your partner.
But trust me, controlling their life decisions isn’t the way!
Indeed, this can be very suffocating and damaging to a relationship, as well as an unbalanced dynamic.
Your partner is on their own journey, and so are you. All we can do is encourage and gently remind them of what their goals are.
But what we can’t do, is tell them what their goals should be.
Therefore, it’s important to cultivate trust and respect for each other’s autonomy and independence without making their problems our responsibility.
7) Shutting down emotionally
Shutting down and disengaging difficult discussions is also known as stonewalling.
Although the reasons people stonewall can be linked to their own past wounds around difficult conversations, it can also be hurtful to the person on the receiving end.
Sometimes, it’s even used as a manipulation tactic to make the other person feel bad – which is a big no-no.
Instead, try to address concerns and disagreements with empathy and active listening.
8) Not taking responsibility for your actions
A healthy relationship requires both people to take responsibility when it’s needed.
When you’re with someone, both of you are essentially co-signing on your roles and individual contributions as to what happens in the relationship.
So, shifting blame onto your partner for problems that both of you are experiencing within the relationship is counterproductive.
It triggers defensiveness, which means you’ll get nowhere in resolving the problem.
In a healthy relationship, both parties take responsibility for their actions and work together to find solutions.
Try to have an, “us versus the problem” mentality, rather than, “me versus you”.
9) Withholding affection
Taking away affection, intimacy, or emotional support as a weapon to hurt your partner, get something from them, or “punish” them is manipulative.
A healthy relationship requires expressing affection and showing support for your partner without strings or conditions attached.
Of course, it’s not always the moment to kiss or cuddle.
But intentionally not showing affection as a form of punishment is when it gets manipulative.
Don’t do this if you want a healthy relationship!
10) Being too emotionally dependent
Last but not least, being overly dependent on your partner is as unhealthy as everything else in this list.
Depending on your partner for emotional support if you don’t know how to give it to yourself, means you’re using them as a crutch to avoid your own issues.
In a healthy relationship, you should maintain a sense of self-development and self-care, rather than relying on them to look after you.
Having your own interests, life, and pursuits that aren’t related to your partner are truly key to a sustainable and lasting, happy relationship.
The effort, patience, and commitment to personal growth required to maintain a healthy relationship can be quite demanding if you’re used to unhealthy dynamics.
But once you say goodbye to these behaviors, you’ll start to see why these things are so important to a thriving connection!
Learning these behaviors gave me a whole new outlook on relationships. I used to think a great relationship was someone who you just get along with really well.
But that’s only one side of the equation.
What’s really important is that you have someone who’s willing to heal themselves in order to be a better partner to you, as you do for them.
Someone who’s still willing to improve even when you don’t get along.
If you have that someone, do your best to let go of these destructive behaviors and help the relationship flourish – it’s more than worth it!