5 Subtle Things People Do That Sabotage Relationships and Send Partners Running

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

Man on woman's case

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

Man not liking woman's 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

Couple fighting over toilet paper

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.

About Jessica Raymond

Jessica Raymond, BSc, RCC, is LoveLearnings senior editor. As a relationship counselor, Jessica has helped hundreds of men and women achieve their relationship dreams. Whether it’s finding your one true love or simply charming someone on a date, Jessica's got your back! In her articles, she reveals little-known, psychological tips that will make even the coldest person chase you around like a little puppy.
2 replies
  1. Yvonne
    Yvonne says:

    Hey Brad. My boyfriend just broke up with me using the reason that he lost his feelings for me. We had known each other for a long time and was having casual sex for awhile before he got into a relationship with another girl.We remained as bestfriends throughout his relationship and even after they broke up. Months after his breakup, he started chasing me and taking me out. He chased me for a year before we got together and we broke up after slightly less than 2 months. He told me that he doesn’t have any feelings for me anymore and would want to remain as bestfriends. I have rejected him once before but he still came back to me, which made me think that he really loved me. But that doesn’t seem to be the case right now as he likes someone else now and im the one initiating all our messages and he replies really slowly. I don’t know of my broken heart is the reason for this, but I don’t want to lose him permanently I still want him in my life. I have been watching your videos and one suggested that if he still wants to be friends means that he isn’t ready to lose me yet, does that means that I still have a chance of winning him back? And im not sure if I should try the no contact rule because currently he only contacts the girl he likes and his close friends. Im scared of scaring him away if I seem too desperate but I also don’t want to cut him off completely. Im in such a dilemma right now. It would help me alot if you could give me some suggestions. Thank you so much and keep up the good job with all the videos because many people will benefit from it

    • Brad Browning
      Brad Browning says:

      Hi Yvonne, sorry to hear that. Yes, I had posted that video, but as I’ve said, it’s enough reason to stay away and cut off communication for a while. You see, him having feelings for you/liking you/not ready to lose you completely and him wanting to be in a relationship with you are two separate things– and this is why you should definitely cut off contact when he’s already in a relationship with someone else, so he’ll get to think clearly. He won’t be able to do that unless you stay away and go do your own thing for a while. There is no guarantee he will want to be in an exclusive relationship with you (this is something outside your control) but you can do the right things to make it happen somehow. So again, let him feel what it’s like not to have you in his life; physical attraction and emotional attraction are different. I don’t know your full story, so sign up for my coaching program so I would know more about it and look at all the other factors at play, then guide you on a regular basis, but chances are, if there’s physical attraction but no emotional attraction, then he’s taking you for granted. Take care now and focus on yourself for a bit, okay? 🙂


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