Most poor relationship habits have one thing in common: the goal to attain something we want. These needs can be described as either a behavior, object, reward, or affirmation of existence. The worst part of these, is many of us do not realize we are engaging in these habits, nor the damage they can do. As you read through these 12 habits, keep an eye open for anything familiar. The first step to reducing the damage of a bad habit, is recognizing when you are using them and making a change.
1. Criticizing, Complaining, or Nagging
Nobody likes to be told they are a bad partner. This form of behavioral control usually pushes a partner to become even more resistant to change.
Advice: Instead of criticizing, try complimenting the behaviors you do appreciate.
It is easy to blame others for our problems. It takes the pressure off of ourselves, and puts it on those around us to change.
Advice: Though you may think that it is just your partner, it is most likely both of you who need to do some changing. Sometimes you need to accept your partner for who they are.
3. Fighting in Public
Some partners think that by arguing in public (making a scene), they are in fact giving themselves the upper hand. But like a child in a candy store having a tantrum, they are only humiliating themselves.
Advice: Wait until you get to the privacy of your home or car to work out a disagreement.
4. Inability to say, “I’m Sorry”
Pride and stubbornness is the bringer of this unfortunate habit, which is the inability to take responsibility for our own actions. Why should we be sorry when we are never wrong?
Advice: One of the quickest ways to lose respect from a partner, is not being able to own up to your own mistakes. Stop blaming everybody else!
5. Holding a Grudge
Some partners just cannot seem to forget the past. They bring up old hurtful events, time and again, as a means to illicit behavioral control (“you said this”, “you did that”).
Advice: The only way for a relationship to heal and flourish, is to forgive.
This behavior comes as a last resort when a partner feels they have nowhere else to turn (If you don’t do this, then this is going to happen”). The problem is, by threatening, you are setting a very unhealthy precedence in the relationship.
Advice: While forceful behavioral control may work in the beginning, there is only so many times you can use the same threat before it loses its shock value. Instead of trying to strong arm your partner into submission, try communicating your needs with respect.
7. Passive Aggression
The opposite of threatening a partner out right, is using a passive punishment, that consists of refusing to speak to them. They may have no idea what they did, but they know they’re in trouble.
Advice: Passive aggression is absolutely pointless. The only person who really ends up punished is the one who elicits the behavior. If you are upset with your partner, communicate your feelings openly and respectfully.
Jealousy is a form of overt infatuation, lack of security, and the inability to love and trust. None of which should be a part of a healthy relationship.
Advice: If you are involved in a relationship that makes you feel insecure, perhaps it is time to have a heart to heart. Security and trust are the basis of any lasting, happy, and passionate relationship.
Some partners see time as a very important part of their life, while others do not. This can become very aggravating to the person who likes to keep a schedule. Some partners also use this as a form of passive aggressive punishment, expressing their dislike to be somewhere, by always getting there late.
Advice: Compromise. The “time sensitive” partner may need to relax a bit, but the “time challenged” partner will need to make a noticeable effort to resist being late.
10. Chore -Challenged
Some couples fall into a rut where one partner is always under a heavier load of chores. To make matters worse, these chores may become expected, unappreciated, and lead to resentment.
Advice: Chores should be a discussion very early in a relationship. Good habits are formed, when a couple is allowed to express their expectations, agree on them, and follow through.
Bribing, rewarding, or in other words, manipulating your partner is always a bad idea. You may think that you are fooling them, but your partner will know what you are up to. It is particularly bad to use sex as a behavioral control (“If you go to this party, I’ll give you a treat later”).
Advice: If you want to reward your partner for being a good sport, make it a surprise when they least expect it. This will mean so much more to them, than a reward out of trade for services.
Lying is a double edged sword. You may think you are doing it to protect your partner, but in the end you are only hurting them worse.
Advice: Know the difference between a white lie and hard lie. A white lie is when you keep part of the truth to protect someone from being hurt (lie: “you look very nice”, underlying thought: You look like you got dressed in the dark). A hard lie is when you lie to a partner in order to protect your own interest. (Lie: “The jacket was only $25”, underlying thought: $25, plus another $400).