Happiness, Love

5 Toxic Behaviors You Could Be Doing To Sabotage Your Relationship

Sometimes our relationship begins to get a little rough and we may not be sure what is happening. If only we could figure out what is going on, perhaps it could bring back the good stuff.

Let’s talk about what we do from time to time, that if it becomes a habit, can actually sabotage our relationship! Eek!! No one wants that!

Turning To Others

What this looks like: 

  • When we ask our friends and family for advice, but not our partner
  • When we vent or complain about our relationship to others, but not to our partner
  • When we share our stressors with others, but not our partner
  • When we share our joys with others, but not our partner

Sure this can seem innocent enough. However, we also need to invite our partner into these conversations. They need to know us as well. This is so important if you are sharing things about your relationship. Your partner needs to know what brings you joy and what hurts you. Because this affects the both of you.

And if we paint a negative picture of our partner, our people remember these. Even long after you have moved on. They want to protect us and keep us safe from emotional heartbreak. When we vent without looking for solutions, we shift how people see our partner.

What we can do instead:

  • If you are voicing your relationship concerns to other, I strongly encourage you to also share these with your spouse. Let them know what you like and don’t like. What’s on your mind. This way you can work on it together.
  • Connect with your partner by sharing things about your day with them. Sure we have things we talk about more with our friends that our partner may find boring. Often times we can find something to share with our spouse though. Keep them in the know.

Dismissing Your Partner

We can subtly dismiss our partner and if this becomes the norm, it can really affect our relationships in a really negative way. We want our partner to know and feel like they are important to us. So let’s do our best to keep the dismissing to a minimum.

Plus if we dismiss our partner, they are not very likely to share with us. And as we just got done discussing, we want our partners to be talking to us about their life, not just to their friends and extended family.

What dismissing looks like:

  • Ignoring our partner
  • Changing the subject on them without acknowledging what they just said
  • Taking someone else’s side
  • Being distracted, such as our phones or TV
  • Saying things like, “you’re fine” or “what’s your problem” or “calm down” or “it’s not that big of a deal, stop being dramatic”

What we can do instead:

  • Acknowledge what our partner said to us
  • Look away from our distraction and look at our partner
  • Make time to talk without any distractions near by
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Take our partners side. We want to be a team with our partner. If we disagree with the content we can always side with our partners feelings. Example: “Yeah, it does hurt to be ditched by a friend.”


Showing Disgust or Contempt

This is when negative feelings take over the show and then leads to harmful behavior. Gottman found in his research that this is one of the most harmful behaviors we can add in our relationship. So if this is sneaking in, we need to kick it out fast!

What this looks like:

  • This is when negative thoughts about our partner are the main thoughts we are having, such as “what an idiot!”
  • When feeling annoyed, irritated, and frustrated with our partner are the main emotions we experience in regards to them
  • When we are mocking them
  • Using sarcasm
  • Rolling our eyes
  • Talking down to them

What we can do instead:

  • When we feel those negative thoughts flooding us – we can take a “time out” to bring ourselves back to a happy place. And then start the conversation again.
  • Same if we feel way too irritated or frustrated – take a break. And then allow yourself time to cool off. Then come back to the conversation.
  • Shift your perspective! STOP focusing on what annoys/frustrates you about your partner and START focusing on what you like about your partner. What do you appreciate? Catch them doing things you want more of. And tell them about all the things you like and appreciate. Live in gratitude.

Being Defensive

I know – none of us like to be called out on something we did that was bothersome or hurtful to the ones we love. If we want our partner to share with us, such as mentioned above, we gotta do our part to create an environment that allows that in. And sit through the uncomfortable conversation by asking our ego to take a moment away.

What this looks like:

  • Turning the table and pointing out our partners “wrongs” – ¬†example: “well you interrupt me”
  • Bringing up the past
  • Justifying your side instead of making an attempt to understand your partner
  • Interrupting to argue your side

What we can do instead:

  • Stop ourselves from responding and listen
  • Ask questions to understand our partners view and what they are really feeling
  • Think about if this is a solvable problem – if so, figure out what are the areas that can be negotiated and what the nonnegotiables are. What does your partner need and what do you need in this situation? And eventually come up with a compromise.
  • Think “win/win” instead of “I’m right and you are WRONG!”

Not Making Time For Each Other

Now, I know we can let the busyness of life get in the way of our quality time with our loves. However, we gotta keep our connection strong. This is our foundation. And a solid foundation goes a long way in a relationship. If we don’t spend quality time together, we eventually are committed to a stranger.

What this looks like:

  • Letting other things and other people come before spending time together. The more consistent this becomes… the more space we put in our relationship
  • You can’t remember the last time you had a date

What we can do instead:

  • Have a weekly date scheduled and make it a priority. A couple of hours will do. In or outside of the home. Leave the phones out of it.
  • Make sure you are having fun with your partner. Laugh together.
  • Continue to ask your partner questions about their views, dreams, goals, and stressors. Make sure you always know who your partner is and what is occupying their life. And share yours as well. Know each other.
  • Have a common goal you are working towards as a couple.

This is so important to really do. Friendship makes a solid foundation. And this is something that the happiest couples have in common. Join them in the happy and fulfilling relationship world. It is a real thing.


Hopefully this was helpful. Try out a tip and let me know what you think. And if YOU have any relationship questions you would like addressed, please leave them in the comments and perhaps I will answer your question in a post.

Also, enjoy this clip of me on KATU Afternoon Live. What a fun experience!!