5 Major Ways You Can Ruin Your Relationship, According To Psychologists
In the past month, I've watched three of my girlfriends go through breakups I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies.
They're all getting through them, though, thanks to the unbreakable bond of women, many episodes of Khloé Kardashian's "Revenge Body" and a quick revisiting of the breakup bible, "Codependent No More."
All of this got me thinking about how relationships can feel like such a crap shoot. The minute you feel like you see a couple that finally makes sense, they're toast.
But according to psychologists, there are a few behaviors that can directly lead to a breakup, and they're easier to avoid than you'd think.
1. Reacting vs. responding
Let's say your partner says something you don't like, something that makes you feel insecure about yourself or your needs.
You have a choice: You can either react spontaneously from your feelings (pack your bags and make a run for it, throw the dinner you are making in the trash and lock yourself in the bathroom), or you can think things over and ask yourself why their comment has inspired such a dramatic response.
My mom always told me, "If it's hysterical, it's historical." Meaning, if my reaction to something is pure hysteria, it probably has nothing to do with the present situation.
When you take the time to respond to an issue instead of reacting in anger or fear, you seize an opportunity to deepen your understanding of yourself, which is the real purpose of a relationship, anyway.
When we get into relationships, sometimes we get stuck in the comfort of our routines.
This is fine, as long as we don't become inflexible about making changes to said routines.
If every Saturday you go to the same restaurant, order the same thing and see the same people, or if you go home every night to crash out on the couch together to watch Netflix, you run the risk of limiting both your and your partner's experience.
The issue is, if you're limiting yourself and shrinking the world of your experiences, you're also shrinking your growth as a human being. This kills passion in a relationship.
The moment you stop learning about your partner is the moment that passion dies in the relationship.
Be sure to continually change things up outside of the bedroom to make things interesting inside of it.
Dr. Lisa Firestone, Director of Research and Education at The Glendon Association, explained,
Most of us know from experience that we can drive each other crazy when our words and actions fail to match. Unfortunately, deception and duplicity are pretty common in relationships. There are a lot of mixed messages based on saying one thing and doing another.
In other words, if you're telling your partner they're the only one you ever think about while simultaneously flirting with all her friends, you may not be cheating on her, but you're certainly confusing the shit out of her.
Not only that, but failing to match your words with your actions in any capacity also shows a blatant disrespect for your partner.
It devalues the relationship when you only think about your partner when they're conveniently right in front of you.
Do your best to consider your partners feelings, desires and needs whether or not they're with you at the moment.
4. Disrespecting boundaries
Couples who lose their sense of self in a relationship are doomed from the start.
If you start thinking of yourself as a "we" instead of a "you and me," you will lose the valuable boundaries that are the cornerstone of healthy relationships.
Dr. Firestone said,
Many of us unintentionally lose track of where we leave off and our partner begins. Without even noticing it, we may be intrusive or controlling toward our partner, acting in a manner that is disrespectful or demeaning to the other person's sense of self.
Maybe this is why so many people I know who are going through breakups start re-reading their personal copy of "Codependent No More."
It's easy to forget the basic truths outlined in that book when we slip into a mindset of having a fused identity.
As the author of "Codependent No More," Melody Beattie wrote,
We don't have to take other people's behaviors as reflections of our self-worth [...] Each person is responsible for his or her behavior.
It really is that simple.
5. Lack of affection
I'm no doctor, but in my experience, lack of affection in a relationship generally happens as a result of all of the behaviors listed above.
Yet, according to Dr. Firestone, routinized sexuality and lack of physical affection can also come from within ourselves, due to negative self-talk that prevents us from expressing our sexuality.
For instance, you may be feeling guilty about your lack of desire for sex, but if you and your SO have an ability to communicate with one another freely and openly, this bump in the road could lead to a deeper understanding of what your relationship is lacking and ultimately bring you closer together.
In other words, the more honestly, openly and compassionately you communicate, the more sex you'll be having as a couple.
Not a bad tradeoff, right?