5 Toxic Habits That Are Destroying Most Relationships

A lot of unhealthy relationship habits are baked into our culture. We worship the idea of being swept off our feet in a Hollywood-style dizzying and irrational romance. Men and women are encouraged to objectify each other and their relationships—more so than ever, thanks to social media. Therefore, we naturally place unrealistic expectations on our partners and tend to normalize destructive behaviors without realizing it. Some of these habits could alienate your partner and could potentially end the relationship. So, what are they? Below are 5 of the most common toxic habits that are destroying most relationships.

Toxic relationship habits, African American couple sitting on the sofa looking away from each other in anger

#1 | Keeping Score

How many of us ladies are guilty of this one? (I’m raising my hand.) The act of maintaining a tally of who did what to whom, or who washed the dishes last night, is one of the most destructive traits in a relationship. Dredging up your partner’s past mistakes to justify an argument you’re currently having is another way of keeping score. Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. says, “The act of keeping score inhibits your ability to empathize with your partner and threatens to foster resentment in your relationship.” Basically, whipping out the scorecard is selfish and only serves to damage your friendship. Instead, it’s best to realize that every action in a relationship is independent and should be dealt with as such.

Toxic relationship habits, frustrated man with hands on his face while wife pleads with him

#2 | Changing Your Partner

This is a tricky one since, in theory, you know changing your partner is a bad idea. In practice, however, we’ve normalized this behavior. Many relationship experts will tell you that if you love someone, you have to accept who they are. So, he’s a little messy or chews a little too loudly. In these situations, remind yourself of all the more important traits that made you fall in love in the first place. You’ll note, however, that changing your partner is possible. But, it should be mutually agreed upon and an organic process. John Gottman writes in The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, “People can change only if they feel like they are loved and accepted the way they are.” So, love your partner for their flaws, celebrate them, and stop trying to mold them into your idea of the perfect partner.

Toxic relationship habits, couple sitting at kitchen table ignoring each other and focusing on their cell phones

#3 | Avoiding Confrontation

Do you have friends who tell you, “we never fight”? Unfortunately, that’s not something they should be proud of. According to an article on, conflict avoidance is one of the biggest topics that keeps coming up in couples counseling sessions. The article states “If you keep avoiding conflicts to save the peace in your relationship, you inevitably start a war inside yourself.” No matter how compatible a couple is, there will always be conflict, and dealing with conflict requires confrontation—especially if you want a long-term healthy relationship. Try to view confrontation as an opportunity to fix problems without them escalating further in the relationship. The trick is to learn how to disagree civilly and find a way through it.

Toxic relationship habits, husband trying to talk to wife who is looking sad and ignoring him

#4 | Emotional Dependency

We’ve all heard the joke, “If mom is happy, everyone is happy.” But making your partner responsible for your emotional well-being is no laughing matter. Yes, being emotionally supportive shows that your partner loves you, but making them responsible is unfair and terribly toxic. It takes the ownership of your happiness away from you and dumps it on to your partner instead. This creates an unfair expectation that your partner should cater to your every need even at their own expense. You need to take responsibility for your feelings and deal with them internally the same way you’d expect him to deal with his own issues. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be there for each other, just understand that only you can control the way you feel.

Toxic relationship habits, husband sleeping while his wife is checking text messages on his cell phone

#5 | Jealous Control

It’s normal to want to guard the people we love, especially when we see a potential rival cozying up to our significant other. But there’s a difference between feeling a little jealous and exhibiting unhealthy, insecure behaviors. Getting angry when your partner talks, touches, calls, texts, hangs out, or sneezes in the general vicinity of another person (male or female) is an attempt to control their behavior. This often leads to insane behaviors such as checking your partner’s texts or email while they’re in the shower. What you’re really doing is transmitting a message of a lack of trust and creating unnecessary drama. I know it’s a radical concept, but you need to trust your partner. Deal with your own feelings of unworthiness, or you’ll inevitably push your partner away.

Do you recognize yourself in any of the behaviors above? Do you have healthy tips for dealing with challenges in your relationship? Please share with us in the comments below.
For additional positive relationship inspiration, check out some of our past posts and videos by clicking the links.

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