When relationships break down it is usually easy to pinpoint at least one cause. Sometimes it’s big, egregious errors like infidelity. Other times it’s the simple “we grew apart” mantra. However, the actions that lead to a relationship’s ultimate demise are often far less obvious or easy to label.
It is in these small sabotages that people drive their partners away, either into the arms of someone else or just to an emotional distance.
Therefore, for the health of your relationship, it is important to pay attention to the little things you might do that cause a rift to form between you. If you want to maintain the closeness and protect the integrity of your relationship, it is essential to make sure to keep these behaviours in check.
1. Taking Everything Personally
Even when you are as close as romantic partners are, often the actions of one has very little to do with the other. Humans naturally act in selfish ways, sometimes at the expense of those around them, especially those who are closest and “safe.”
However, rarely do those selfish actions have as much to do with the other person as they have to do with pleasing ourselves.
By taking every slight from your partner as a personal affront, you create a situation which closes off communication and makes it impossible to solve the real problem(s) at hand. It is far better to empathize with the other person. This demonstrates both maturity and an understanding that people are human with needs that must be met.
2. Failing to Truly Listen
The intimacy of a romantic relationship means that, often, you become a sounding board for the other person’s experiences, frustrations, and successes/failures. The ability to vent, to “talk things out” and have a responsive person on the other end of the conversation forms the cornerstone of any relationship.
Furthermore ignoring another person while they talk gives off an air of judgement and scorn which can also come across as manipulative.
While most people understand that “communication is key” in a relationship, the nature and tone of that communication, from both the side of the listener and the speaker, is equally important to manage.
3. Too Much Reliance on Sarcasm
Sarcasm has its place. Many people don’t like it, but for others it is a critical defence mechanism used to cope with the realities of life. However, sarcasm is also a weapon that, if used in the wrong circumstances can make a small fire, such as a lover’s spat, into a blazing inferno of anger.
When you use sarcasm in a situation when the other person is serious in his or her thoughts or feelings, you demean them. That is why a sarcastic tone is so dangerous among couples, especially during arguments. Learning how to compromise and reach a middle ground, however, always saves a relationship. To avoid sounding sarcastic, use the art of text messaging instead whenever appropriate.
4. Failure to Appreciate Differences
We all like to think that the world would be a far better place if everyone thought and acted exactly as we do.
However, the variety of people, ideas, values, and approaches to life and its problems are what contribute to change and advancements.
When it comes to a romantic relationship, a discrepancy in values or ideas, properly handled, facilitates compromise and growth between each party involved.
Not allowing one member of the relationship to have or express opinions not only stifles that progress, but also makes the person feel controlled and manipulated, as if their thoughts matter less simply because they are different.
5. Failure or Refusal to Embrace Change
Life is all about change. This is as true in careers and weather patterns as it is in relationships. Failure or refusal to embrace this inevitability not only causes personal pain and depression, but makes the person changing feel as if they are doing something wrong or hurting you by following the natural course of their life path.
On the flip side, forcing someone to change before they are ready to breeds resentment and inauthenticity which erodes intimacy.
Instead, the goal should be to honour the other person’s journey just as you do your own. This means learning to accept change, and the changed individual. Try to find the good in each change and openly discuss fears or hesitations about it rather than reacting to change negatively on principle.