A symmetrical relationship, in which both parties treat each other as equal partners, brings the greatest satisfaction. In a healthy relationship, each takes responsibility for his or her own behaviour, expression of expectations and emotions. At the same time, each partner listens to the other’s needs and responds to them in an empathetic way. This does not mean that they always meet them, but they use communication based on assertiveness and know how to say no in a kind way. A healthy relationship is based on mutual care and love. Sometimes there is an imbalance. The mistakes that kill a relationship are often at its core. When one party enters a relationship to act as a carer or a child in need of care, there is no question of partnership and reciprocity. Initially, the two people may complement each other, playing out a scenario familiar from childhood. Over time, one partner starts to develop and the other, through being rigidly embedded in the role, is unable to keep up. A relationship crisis manifests itself in the disappearance of emotional closeness. When we prefer to talk about our experiences with a friend rather than with our partner, it is a sign that we are starting to distance ourselves from them. It is worth considering what is causing this. Some of the reasons for concern include a lack of honesty in the relationship. If we lie to our partner or they lie to us, then there is a problem in the relationship. The breakdown of a relationship is indicated by avoiding conversations about a shared future. While we used to be able to plan holidays well in advance, today we don’t even want to discuss plans for the coming weekend… A break-up is often preceded by situations in which our partner becomes indifferent to us, we try to avoid him or her, and we feel resentment at the sight of him or her.
Mistakes that lead to the destruction of a relationship
By recognising relationship-destroying behaviour in good time, we can actively counteract it. Each of us sometimes makes a mistake without realising how it affects the dynamics of the relationship. By becoming more aware, we avoid repeating them. Below I briefly discuss 10 mistakes that kill a relationship. There are many more, but I have focused on the most common ones.
1. Lack of communication
What destroys a relationship? Many crises in a romantic relationship occur due to a lack of open communication based on assertiveness. We all grew up in different circumstances and speak different love languages. This often makes it difficult to read your partner’s needs and meet them. For this reason, it is useful to communicate our emotions and expectations openly. If a partner does not hear from us that we value romantic dates out on the town, he or she may not organise them. This does not mean that he does not love us. He is likely to express his love in other ways, such as doing small favours. You, too, may not live up to his expectations by showing him affection in your preferred way. Sometimes a certain behaviour of your partner triggers strong emotions in you, such as anger, sadness or jealousy. Let us not invalidate them, but look at what is behind them. When you better understand your emotions, openly express your feelings, avoiding an accusatory tone. Many people communicate messages to themselves, but do so in the wrong way.
Instead of: Grow up and stop spending all your money on stupid things!
Try: I am concerned that you have been spending all your money on computer games for some time. I don’t feel safe when I think to myself that in case of an emergency I will cover all the costs with my own money. I would like us to set up a sub-account where we both transfer money every month for unexpected expenses.
2. Partner’s lies
Mistakes that destroy a relationship are also lies from the partner. They damage trust in a relationship, which is very difficult to rebuild once it has been damaged. Many relationships break down because one party hides things from the other or deliberately misleads the partner. As a result, the person being cheated on stops believing the cheater and eventually decides to end a relationship in which their need for security has not been met. Each partner has the right to autonomy and does not have to reveal intimate details of previous relationships to anyone. This does not mean that lying to a loved one is ok.
Instead of: Anne, I’m going out to see my mother. (Lying)
Try: Anna, I’m going out to see Jack. We are going to ride his motorbike. I know you’re very worried about me, but we’re not going to freak out, we’re just going to try him out. (Assertive communication)
3. Partner disloyalty
We all feel torn at some point. When we enter a relationship, loyalty conflicts arise. We don’t know how to behave in difficult situations that arouse extreme emotions. Should we side with the family or show support for the partner? For example, relatives are used to weddings with pomp. The partner, on the other hand, wants to invite only the parents and witnesses to the dinner after the wedding vows. How to reconcile the conflicting expectations of loved ones? Some choose to be loyal to their family, thus putting a crack in their relationship.
Instead of: Mum, we’re going to invite your cousins to our wedding. Tomorrow we will go to see the hall you mentioned.
Try: Mum, I value your opinion, but I’m getting married to Adam, so it’s with him that I’ll make a decision about a possible wedding. My fiancé mentioned to me that he prefers a modest ceremony.
4. Morbid jealousy
When we think about what mistakes destroy a relationship, we very often think of jealousy. It is an emotion that does not enjoy the best press. Meanwhile, even it informs us of something important. It shows that the other person is important to us, and that is why we do not want to lose them. Some people, having low self-esteem, show morbid jealousy to their partner. They look through his or her phone, don’t allow them to meet friends, often call work to make sure they are not in danger of infidelity. Sometimes there are theatrical scenes of jealousy. This is not the fault of the emotion, but the difficulty of regulating it. People who have a stable sense of self-esteem do not feel constantly threatened. When the sting of jealousy arises, they look at the situation with common sense. They express their emotions through assertive communication.
Instead of: Go on a business trip, you’ve probably been sleeping with your boss for a long time anyway, since you answer her phone after 10pm
Try: Your relationship with your boss makes me anxious. I don’t feel comfortable when I see you taking calls from her after 10 p.m. Why are you doing this?
5. Ignoring your partner’s sexual needs
Only in a relationship between two asexual people does the traditionally understood desire not arise. In any other romantic relationship, the realisation of sexual needs and desire acts as the glue that fosters closeness and intimacy. Sex is not a miracle cure for all problems. Some people enjoy it, but their relationship lacks true intimacy because they do not allow themselves emotional closeness and open communication. When discussing relationship-killing mistakes, it is worth noting that everyone, excluding asexual people, has their own erotic needs. We can only find out about our partner’s fantasies during a frank conversation free of judgement. We often avoid it because we are afraid of hearing something we don’t like. It is best to find out about your partner’s sexual needs and think about which ones we are willing to satisfy and which ones would violate our psychological boundaries. By developing assertiveness in ourselves, we learn to say no to loved ones when an activity arouses resistance in us without hurting anyone. We sometimes judge our partner through the prism of his erotic fantasies, forgetting that many of them are just loose thoughts that he does not necessarily want to realise.
Instead of: You must have watched porn! I’m not going to put on any idiotic outfits to make you happy! (attacking and negatively judging the other person’s fantasy)
Try this: I understand that you would like to see me in this disguise, but it is beyond my comfort zone, so I will not fulfil this fantasy. I’m keen to take our sex to a new level, so I’d love to hear your other ideas. (Assertively draw the line and emphasise that the relationship is important)
6. Focusing on problems instead of solutions
At the beginning of a relationship, neurotransmitters are created in the body that make us see no flaws in our partner. Over time, their concentration subsides and then we start arguing about everyday issues. One of us is disturbed by the fact that the other party does not immediately wash up after themselves. The other that the partner sleeps through most of the weekend, getting up after 2 p.m. Unfortunately, when problems arise, we often focus mainly on them instead of trying to solve them. We unconsciously repeat these mistakes that damage the relationship. We automatically attribute bad intentions to our partner instead of looking at what is behind their behaviour. It’s worth working out solutions together instead of accusing someone of ill-will.
Instead of: I’m sick of being your cleaner and washing your plates after you!
Try: I’m tired after work, so I feel angry when I see you leaving dirty plates behind and going to your room to take a nap. I would like to rest too. I wouldn’t mind if you don’t wash the dishes, but then we don’t have anything to eat dinner on. I would like you to address this issue after your nap.
7. Criticising your partner at every turn
Everyone has their faults; we don’t always agree with their views or choices. However, this does not entitle us to criticise him or her constantly. What mistakes destroy a relationship? Questioning someone else’s decisions or lifestyle weakens the relationship and creates unnecessary conflict. The other party begins to see us as their adversary rather than a close person. Consider how constant criticism would affect your mood. If you think it would make you feel worse, it’s a sign that it’s a good idea to limit the comments directed at your partner. You have the right to disagree with him or her on many issues and express your own views, but do so in an assertive way, free from an accusatory tone.
Instead of: What did you do in school that you don’t know how to prepare a table of contents in a word processor!
Try: I understand that you don’t know how to prepare a table of contents in Word, so I’ll show you how to do it. Write down the most important instructions for yourself because I need a rest when I get home. I feel tired of you asking me to edit documents every day.
8. Neglecting yourself
On the one hand, we feel a lot of pressure from the beauty industry, which negatively affects our health and well-being. On the other hand, sometimes we do things that make us show ourselves to our partner in an unfavourable light. When we ask others what mistakes not to make in a relationship, we often hear that neglecting ourselves is destructive to the relationship. When we show up to the other person in stained clothes and dirty hair, we make a poor impression. A neglected appearance diminishes our attractiveness and can weaken our partner’s desire, which negatively affects our sex life. At home, it is a good idea to wear comfortable clothes that are clean, neat and the colour enhances our beauty. It is a good idea to wash your head regularly for hygienic reasons and to avoid dermatological problems. This goes a little beyond the subject of this blog, but I would add that trichologists do not recommend “holding” without washing – doing so increases scalp problems. At this point, I don’t want to persuade you to get plastic surgery, buy expensive creams, fitted tresses, train at the gym or go on restrictive diets. I want to point out the fine distinction between neglecting yourself and more elaborate grooming that doesn’t necessarily pique your interest. If you sometimes show up to your partner in a heavily ‘non-outgoing’ version that you don’t present to anyone else, your loved one may feel unimportant.
9. Conflict avoidance
We often automatically link relationship-damaging behaviour to conflict. In reality, their avoidance or mismanagement contributes to the relationship crisis. It is normal for two people to look at the same issues differently. When they are important, it is difficult to avoid confrontation and expressing one’s own position. E.g. if one party wants to have a child and the other does not, conflict arises. In such a situation, it is useful to talk frankly about a topic that raises strong emotions. In the conflict situation indicated above, it is difficult to work out a compromise, but in others it is realistic. For example, someone who likes to go to the theatre often does not have to give up this important need. He or she can always see a play with friends or choose a show that interests the partner. Conflict avoidance is a common problem in people who have experienced emotional neglect. As children, they have learned to conform to their parents in order not to lose their care and interest. In adulthood, they give up their own needs to ensure the stability of the relationship. Sometimes this breeds frustration and threatens to explode, leaving only the ruins of a romantic relationship. It is worth changing your approach to conflicts as they are developmental in nature. The key to success is communication based on assertiveness. When we attack our partner, he or she becomes defensive, which makes it difficult to work out an agreement. We will be heard when we communicate the same content in a more empathetic way, referring to our own needs and emotions.
Instead of: You’ve got to be joking! I’m not going to move out of the city to a village where not even a bus leaves!
Try: I understand that you are fed up with the hustle and bustle of the city, but I feel sad at the very thought of moving out to the countryside… I am used to city life. After work I like to meet up with friends and go to author meetings at the library/concerts/crossfit. Some weekends we can spend in the countryside. Consider whether this arrangement would provide you with a calming experience after a busy week.
10: Routine in a relationship
When we think about what destroys a relationship, routine comes to mind after a while. This one isn’t as bad as you might think, as it allows you to take the pressure off your brain. Unfortunately, it sometimes turns out to be deadly for a relationship. If we didn’t automatically brush our teeth or close the windows at night, we would easily succumb to overanalysing every action. Routine makes a lot easier, but we all need some variety sometimes. We don’t want to eat tomato soup every day or go to the same grocery shop. Not only does routine creep into our menus and daily lives, but it also becomes a frequent visitor to relationships. This does not mean that we should resign ourselves to its presence. For a romantic relationship to thrive, it is worth experiencing new things together. This could be going to the cinema together, having dinner at a newly opened restaurant, but also diversifying your existing sex life. Match the changes and planning of new activities to your lifestyle and stage of your relationship. Please also remember to give yourself time to change.