We’re all guilty of bringing our baggage into relationships—whether we realize it or not.
Here’s a comforting thing to hear: there’s no such thing as a perfect relationship because there are no two perfect people. We’ve all gotten frustrated too quickly, placed blame, and initiated unnecessary tiffs. But because being imperfect is part of being human, it’s tempting to allow ourselves to make excuses for our behavior.
But a huge part of any successful romantic relationship is our decision to evaluate ourselves and our actions honestly, seeking to become a better partner for the person we love. So which behaviors should we pay attention to?
Here are the 10 most common unhealthy behaviors that are hurting our relationship:
1. Saying “I’m fine” but not meaning it.
I’m most definitely guilty of this, so I’m putting myself on blast with this one. When we fail to communicate our feelings with our partner, we’re essentially sentencing our relationship to stay exactly where it is, with all of its issues and struggles. A relationship can’t flourish and find new life if we’re forcing it to sit still. We’re not always fine, and talking about it will inevitably improve the circumstances of our relationship, helping us increase our bonds with one another.
When we fail to communicate our feelings with our partner, we’re essentially sentencing our relationship to stay exactly where it is.
2. Constantly comparing yourself to your partner’s exes.
This one is so tempting to do—we all want to feel like we’re better in every way than our guy’s exes. But why? Most often, the need to compare ourselves to exes comes from our own insecurities: are we as pretty, stylish, or smart as she was? What did he see in her?
But here’s the honest truth: comparing ourselves to his past girlfriends is going to hurt us more than it will fix our insecurities. We’re bound to find something that makes us insecure by scrolling through her social media. As tough as it sounds, our only choice is to focus on why our partner chose us—chances are, he’s thinking a lot more about those things than about what his ex had.
3. Living in the past.
For some of us, it’s painful to think about who our significant other was before we knew them; maybe they’ve had a string of long-term live-in girlfriends or shared a lot of intimate experiences with a lot of people—heck, maybe they’ve even been married before.
Depending on your guy’s past, it can be exceedingly difficult to come to terms with who they’ve been or what they’ve done, especially when our own experiences are wildly different. But allowing their past to bleed into our present is the last thing we should be doing. The most effective way to feel like the past is truly in the past is by supporting our partner in their quest to grow past who they’ve been while finding a way to love them on their journey.
4. Checking their DMs.
Every relationship reaches a point where it seems like you share everything with each other, from our expenses to our bed to our hopes and dreams. One thing, however, that probably shouldn’t be shared the same way is our texts. This isn’t to say we should hide our texts from each other—the idea is that, ideally, we’d be with someone whom we know we can trust from the get-go. By making the decision not to snoop through their messages, we’re letting them know we have faith in them.
By making the decision not to snoop through their messages, we’re letting them know we have faith in them.
5. Spending every day together.
When we’re in love, it’s so normal to want to spend every waking hour with each other; we crave new memories and new traditions in our newfound love for one another. Quality time is one of my love languages, so I’ve definitely fallen into this trap myself. But eventually, in order to not get sick of each other, we’ll need to set aside time for our family, friends, and ourselves.
Spending every moment together is a fast track to getting burnt out on one another, and increases the likelihood that their cute quirks will start to bother us in no time. It’s so important that we have a full life outside of our relationship—the most successful partnerships are made up of two whole people.
6. Thinking you can change them.
How many of us have thought to ourselves, “He’s so perfect… except for this one thing,” before promising ourselves we’ll get him to change said thing. While it’s true that we can inspire our significant other to become more selfless, neat, or helpful, it’s a mistake to think we have the power to change them. We can encourage them endlessly, but ultimately, the real change comes when they themselves are committed to improving, not when we’ve given them our thousandth speech.
We can encourage them endlessly, but ultimately, the real change comes when they themselves are committed to improving.
7. Picking on the small things.
It’s really annoying when my husband leaves the toilet seat up; I’m a strong proponent of the “toilet lids should always be completely closed” movement. It would be easy to get angry every time he forgets to close it, insisting he doesn’t care about my feelings… but is that true? He’s shown that he loves me time and time again by accepting me as I am, building me up when I want to tear myself down, and taking my feelings seriously. So whenever he does a small thing I don’t like, instead of picking a fight, I try to remember all the things he does right.
8. Changing yourself for them.
In all honesty, most of us are guilty of doing silly things like pretending to like Star Wars, classical music, or Indian food because our significant other likes it. While that isn’t always a huge deal, it gets dangerous when we start altering our morals, values, and dreams to match our guy’s. Changing our beliefs to fit into the mold of the “perfect girlfriend” will eventually backfire—because it’ll get tiring. And the more we attempt to modify ourselves, the more we’ll end up resenting the person we did it for.
9. Throwing stones.
As is the case with any relationship, there will be times that our partner messes up, hurts our feelings, or irritates us to no end. It’s such a human response to use phrasing like “you always” or “you never” in the middle of a heated argument, but it’s also hypocritical and unhelpful—just like throwing stones in a glass house. We’ve all hurt each other, made mistakes we regret, and hopefully learned from them. But when we choose to love each other through our faults, despite our flaws, we’re challenging ourselves to be a better partner.
It’s such a human response to use phrasing like “you always” or “you never” in the middle of a heated argument, but it’s also hypocritical and unhelpful.
10. Forgetting that you love them.
In the early stages of most relationships, we see everything through rose-colored glasses—everything about this person is amazing, the birds seem to sing in better tune, and it feels like the sun is shining just for us. As time marches on, we’ll start getting used to having our partner around, sometimes taking them for granted and forgetting the things about them we first fell in love with. It’s imperative that, as our relationship becomes established, we continually remind ourselves why we chose to be with this person: because we love them.
Relationships are never easy; a fundamental aspect of any healthy relationship is our ability to spot areas for growth and follow through on it. The most loving thing we can do for one another is to focus on understanding our shortcomings and improving ourselves, becoming a better person to be with.