Unless you have been living in some kind of fairy tale, you know that there are things that can hurt a healthy relationship, things that you want to avoid so you can stay in one.
When we fall in love it’s all fireworks and roses. You believe that you have the love of your life and that you will live happily ever after. And I am not saying that you can’t live happily ever after but I am saying that it can be difficult.
Many relationships fall apart because of the 1000 little cuts, those every day instances that cause the other person pain. They seem like small things but, taken together, they can be very damaging.
Many causes of the damage are obvious: treating each other with contempt, leaving your underwear on the bathroom floor, not taking out the garbage when prompted to, abstaining from sex, etc.
But there are other small things that people do often, things that might not be so obvious but are very important.
#1 – Hiding things.
Lying by omission means lying by omitting something from a conversation. For example, when asked why you are late coming home, you say that you stopped at the bar for a drink but you omit that you were there with a friend she doesn’t like. You know she will be upset and you don’t want to hurt her or cause any drama.
Have you ever lied to your person because you want to protect them? Have you ever thought that what they might not know might not hurt them? Have you ever purposely not disclosed something because you are scared of the emotional drama that might follow?
There are two reasons why lying by omission is a thing. The first is that you are keeping something from your partner and that is a lie and that will only pave the ways for more lies. And if you are lying to your partner you are demonstrating that you might not love and respect them and your relationship might be hurting.
The other issue is that if you are every caught in one of your lies, your partner will lose trust in you and going forward might be suspicious of everything you tell them. How much would that suck?
So, be honest. Always.
#2 – No follow through.
This one might be a little bit more obvious but it’s one very important things that can hurt a healthy relationship.
Do you and your partner ever agree to do something and then one or the other of you don’t follow through? Do you not follow through because you didn’t really want to do it or because you forgot or because time didn’t allow? Do you try to sweep it under the rug and either lie about it or make excuses?
Not following through with something, without explanation, is a sign of contempt. That you just don’t do something for whatever personal reason and you don’t talk to your partner about the why and how you will sow the seeds of substantial disrespect.
My man and I used to have this problem all the time and then we finally talked about it. What we learned is that, when we make a plan, I assume that it’s a done deal and he assumes that we are still going to talk about it. That is just how we both have operated before our relationship. We realized that we needed to be clear about our plan – did we decide to do it and then it would be done or is more discussion necessary? Knowing these things has made following up much easier for both of us.
#3 – Ignoring the important stuff.
I had a boyfriend once who hated how hard I slammed the door of his truck. I didn’t know that I was slamming it – I just thought I was closing it like I closed any car door. But I guess I was closing it too hard and he didn’t like it.
Of course, I thought that he was ridiculous – this was a big huge truck and, really, how could little old me cause it any damage. We fought about it all the time.
What I have realized, in retrospect, is that me not closing the truck door with such force made him feel ignored and disrespected. He loved that truck and wanted to take care of it and he felt like my slamming the door was going to harm it.
I pushed back every time but instead I wished I would have recognized that this was important to him and done everything I could to try to remember to close it more softly. That would have been respecting what was important to him and that might have made a big difference in our relationship.
Is there something that your partner does that they love but seems absolutely ridiculous to you? If there is, accepting it instead of pushing back on it could make a huge difference for your relationship.
#4 – Changing.
One of the most difficult things, for me, about my ex was that he was a different person in different situations.
When he was with me he was wonderful, open, honest and kind. When he was with his family and his friends he was a totally different person. He laser focused on people and then talked about them behind their back. He said things that were patently untrue to make them like him more. He chose not to talk to me but instead to mingle with everyone. He was always the last one to leave a party, no matter what I wanted, because he didn’t want anyone to think he wasn’t cool.
Are you the kind of person who is a chameleon in your life? Do you act differently in social situations and perhaps treat your partner differently as well?
Doing this is one of the major things that can hurt a healthy relationship. So, pay attention to how you are in social situations and do your best to change your behaviors.
#5 – TV cheating.
This is a new one but a biggie.
In this era of binge watching TV shows, cheating on your partner by watching ahead is not ok! Period.
I had a partner with whom I was watching Sons of Anarchy. I told him it was very important to me that he not watch it without me because I wanted to share the excitement of it all.
And then I went away for a week. And what did he do? He watched it all.
I told him how upset I was about it but I truly never got over it. I wanted to share this show with him and that he disregarded my feelings was a huge thing.
I know it seems silly but, for whatever reason, it’s not.
So, don’t underestimate the importance of not watching ahead on you and your partner’s favorite shows. It could be the end of your relationship if you do.
Understanding what things can hurt a healthy relationship is a proactive way to keep it happy.
The 1000 little cuts can make a difference in the health of relationships probably more than overt things like leaving your underwear on the floor.
So, pay attention. Don’t lie, follow through, respect what is important, be consistent and make sure you are careful with your TV watching. You will be glad you did!
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I am a NYC based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. My writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. I work with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world.