Many unhealthy relationship habits are ingrained in our culture. Most of us don’t grow up with the best examples of what healthy relationships look like and we repeat those same patterns in our personal interactions by dating those who are no good for us.
Healers talk about ways of protecting our energies from toxic interactions, but what no one seems to talk about is the toxic behaviors that are part of everyday “normal” life.
Through research on healthy and happy relationships in the past few decades, there are some general principles that most people are either unaware of or do not practice. There are common tendencies that couples think are healthy and normal but are toxic and detrimental. Let us look at some of the most common ones.
1. Keeping tabs on who does what: – It is when one partner continuously brings up and blames the other for past mistakes that have been made in the relationship. It turns into a scoreboard of who has done what. Both parties blame each other and keep tabs on each other. “You were rude to my mother at the party in January; don’t do that again tonight.” And months later you are still reminded of your behavior. If this becomes a habit, instead of dealing with the current problem both partners use all their energy to prove who is right and who did what instead of working on the actual issue.
What to do: Look at yourself and your partner; recognize that by choosing to be with them you are also choosing to be with all their prior behaviors and actions. If it is something that you have done, then deal with the issue alone. If it is something that really bothered you, then perhaps you should have dealt with it then and not years later.
2. Blaming your partner for your emotions: – Sure, we all have bad days and sometimes we get mad and upset when we are having a bad day and our partner is not attentive. But if it becomes a habit, an expectation rather, that your life should revolve around your partners emotional state then sooner or later you will become full of resentments which are detrimental to the relationship. This behavior is a form of selfishness and poor personal boundary establishment which develops into codependent tendencies. Your partner should not be responsible for your emotions and vice versa. Next thing you know you find that you are always asking permission to go out with friends or who can come over.
What to do: Take responsibility for your own emotions and make sure your partner does the same. Being supportive is not the same as being obligated and any sacrifices that are made should be made from free will and not viewed as an expectation. If you do not want your partner to hide their true feelings and emotions from you, do not force them to be responsible for your mood swings and bad days.
3. Buying your way through relationship problems: – Getting gifts is exciting, who doesn’t want a new toy? But there is a big difference between getting gifts just because and continuously covering up relationship issues with superficial pleasures. This behavior is very toxic and could lead you straight to the divorce attorney. Not only do you shove the real issues under the rug (which do re-emerge in greater depth) but it sets up unhealthy precedent within the relationship.
What to do: Do not be afraid of getting upset or mad at your partner for something negative that they do. We don’t always have to like everything about them. Chances are we won’t, that’s part of because we are humans and not robots. Make sure to know that committing and liking the person is not the same. You can be committed and still not like everything about them. Or you can be devoted and be angered or annoyed at the things they do at times. Two partners who can communicate and express their criticisms without threatening or blackmailing are then strengthening their commitment in the long run
4. Passive aggressive behavior: – Instead of openly expressing to your partner what is bothering you, you begin to act a certain way that clues them in that you are indeed upset. You begin to make them angry and rather than state your case. This “hint” dropping behavior shows that you are not open or comfortable in expressing your feelings. You are unable to communicate openly without feeling judged. If the relationship is healthy, then there is no need to be passive aggressive because you know that you can safely express any anger or insecurities.
What to do: Get comfortable with stating your desires and feelings. Make sure that they know that they are not obligated or responsible for them but that you would love their support.