Relationships can be incredibly complicated.
There are so many nuanced shifts in dynamics, subtle changes in feelings, and communication pitfalls that all couples inevitably encounter some sort of issue.
And while some people may tell you that you can make anything work if you try hard enough, the kind of issue you’re dealing with is of the utmost importance.
Because at the end of the day, there are certain things that should be a dealbreaker; things that you shouldn’t accept as something you simply have to suffer through.
Because you don’t. You deserve a partner who loves you in a way that makes you feel loved, respected, and cared for. That’s not a bonus of romance – it is a non-negotiable.
These are the 9 things you should never let slide in a relationship, according to psychology.
1) Blatant disrespect for your boundaries
Falling in love with someone means you’ll have to learn a lot of lessons on how to navigate your loved one’s heart – including their boundaries.
Look, we all make mistakes.
Your partner might kiss you in public without realizing you hate public displays of affection; they may push you to go to the supermarket with them because they don’t know how much you hate the busy atmosphere; they could share some delicate information about your relationship with their friends, making you feel uncomfortable.
But there is a difference between a mistake that stems from ignorance and a mistake that’s based on indifference.
Once you assert your boundaries in clear words and tell your partner what you want them to stop or start doing, they have a choice to either respect your boundaries to ensure your happiness or to blatantly push them no matter how much you remind them to stop.
If it’s the latter, you shouldn’t let it slide. As the psychotherapist Denise Fournier, PhD, says:
“It’s so important to be clear about our personal rules and boundaries. We need to know what they are and maintain them firmly, ensuring that whoever we enter a relationship with is willing to respect them as much as we do.”
2) Mistakes that turn into a pattern
Disclosing too much intimate information about your romantic relationship with one’s friends is a mistake. Doing it even after your partner repeatedly told you to stop is a pattern.
The same applies to almost everything you can think of. In one of my past relationships, I constantly had to remind my ex to ask me questions about my day and spend more quality time with me.
Each time, he promised to change and be more engaged with me. Over the following days and weeks, though, his effort diminished until we fell into the same rut and I had to bring up the same issue again.
His decision not to invest time and effort in my love language wasn’t a mistake. He knew what to do. It was a pattern born of indifference.
If your partner’s hurtful behavior has been going on for months or even years… it might be time to reconsider the relationship’s role in your life.
3) Hot and cold behavior
“Love is an action, not a state of mind.” You’ve probably heard that saying before.
But I think we should add one important word: “Love is a consistent action.” If you don’t put the effort in on a consistent basis, the romantic link you’ve been building between you and your partner will corrode until it finally snaps.
Consistency doesn’t end when you’ve put a label on your relationship, when you’re standing at the altar, or when you have kids. It’s something you’re choosing for a lifetime.
If your partner showers you with affection one day only to withdraw for no reason in the next twenty-four hours, they’re not practicing consistency. They’re not creating a safe space for you within the relationship.
Instead, they’re always keeping you on your toes, dysregulating your nervous system and triggering your insecurities. Therapist Jason N. Linder, PsyD, describes it thus:
“When there is conflict in our most important relationships, we become dysregulated emotionally because we ourselves feel terrified from threats to our attachment bonds.”
Hot and cold behavior can be very harmful because you’re always in a state of potential danger – losing one of your most crucial attachments is seen as dangerous by tyour body – which means you can never catch a break.
But if there’s one thing a romantic relationship should do, it’s to make you feel safe. Not the opposite.
4) Emotional manipulation
Emotional manipulation can be tricky to pinpoint because it can be so subtle that you barely notice it. That’s why it’s essential to learn more about it to make sure you don’t fall for it when it happens.
- Gaslighting (making you doubt your own reality or invalidating your feelings)
- Love bombing (showering you with too much love too early on in the relationship)
- Guilt-tripping (shifting the responsibility for your partner’s emotions onto your shoulders)
- Triangulation (bringing another person into the conflict to corner you)
- Silent treatment (forcing you to simmer in confusion and guilt while your partner acts cold and refuses to discuss the issue together)
5) Too much jealousy
A little bit of jealousy never hurt anyone. A lot of jealousy, however, hurts plenty of couples all over the world.
And that’s because obsessive jealousy ultimately signals a lack of trust. It’s never just about the people who may potentially want to hit on you – it’s also about the fact that your partner doesn’t trust you to keep your boundaries in place and remain loyal.
Since trust is such a fundamental part of a healthy relationship, it’s incredibly difficult to hold up a relationship where there is none.
And you shouldn’t have to.
In some cases, jealousy can even slide into “morbid jealousy”, which is characterized by “irrational, obsessive thoughts centered around a lover or ex-lover’s possible sexual unfaithfulness, together with unacceptable or extreme behavior.”
A lot of jealousy can give rise to a very harmful and manipulative dynamic between you and your partner.
Don’t tolerate it. It is completely valid for you to lead a healthy social life and have your own friends and hobbies.
If you’re not giving your partner any reasons to be jealous, they should trust you. Simple as that.
But what would count as a reason for jealousy?
In every relationship, there’s a fundamental difference between secrecy and privacy that we must recognize.
Privacy is completely normal. It’s what occurs when you don’t want your partner to go through your chat conversations with friends – your friends chose to talk to you, not your partner, after all – or when you don’t want them to read your journal.
Secrecy is when you intentionally hide something from your significant other because you know it’d upset them.
Sneaking around, not telling the full truth, sprinkling in little lies from time to time – that’s secrecy. And it can completely break the sense of trust between you.
If your partner is secretive, don’t let it slide. Confront them about it and have a discussion.
Look, most of us have been clingy at some point or another. When you’re in love, you get deeply attached, and it’s very easy to feel so mesmerized by the object of your love that you kind of lose sight of yourself.
But that stage eventually goes away. If it doesn’t, it’s a problem.
If your partner doesn’t have any proper social life outside of you, wants to spend all their free time in your presence, makes overbearing demands, and seems to have completely lost themselves in the attachment… it’s time to have a talk.
8) Demeaning words
Let’s get one thing straight.
Your partner should be your number one supporter. If something amazing happens to you at work, they’re the person you run to and celebrate with. If you fail, they try their best to make you feel better.
But if your significant other demeans you, makes fun of you, or even insults you, they’re displaying complete disrespect for who you are.
Nothing is ever black-and-white – for example, your partner may have grown up in an environment where cruel jokes were normal, so they might not have realized it wasn’t okay to speak to each other this way – but once you talk through the issue together, it shouldn’t happen again.
When you’ve spent years in love with someone, you may feel like everything they do for you on a daily basis – their compliments, their cooking, physical affection, you name it – is the norm.
But that mindset can be the beginning of the end because it could easily cascade into entitlement. And as the therapist Steven Stosny, Ph.D., says:
“Entitlement strips relationships of one of their most sublime emotional experiences: appreciation.”
Your hard work shouldn’t go unnoticed. Your love and energy ought to be reciprocated. A great relationship can only last if both parties actively strive to show up for each other.
So, if you’re being taken for granted… know that if your significant other doesn’t cherish you, someone else will.