Sometimes relationship habits can develop and over time they just seem normal.
It's always been that way, so you just figure that's just how it is.
It's easy to get stuck in this trap as it is difficult to get the perspective you need, when you are inside the relationship.
However don't assume things are normal if they are bad. If you have developed some poor relationship habits you need to take action to rectify them or consider whether or not you are in the right relationship.
1. Passive Aggressiveness And Failure To Communicate Openly
Being passive aggressive is when someone is indirectly hostile as a way of demonstrating their anger and frustration. A basic example is if your girlfriend is pissed off with you and then "forgets" to do something important she was supposed to do for you. Rather than discussing the problem she wages cynical sabotage.
Passive aggressive behavior is the exact opposite of openly confronting your challenges and discussing conflict. It is a covert and destructive way of expressing disagreement, hurt, frustration or anger.
If you find your relationship in this pattern then all it will do is keep building resentment until the pressure becomes too much for one party to bear. It then boils over in a huge conflict where either serious damage is done to the relationship or the relationship ends.
The only remedy to this is to be direct and open about conflict. This doesn't mean having a huge fight every time there is a disagreement, but it means creating the space where it is acceptable to strongly disagree and to voice that opinion.
I find that a good blow up about once a month where we clear the air after a fight is a good way to avoid passive aggressive behavior. Don't be scared of shining a light on things and putting it out in the open.
2. Emotional Blackmail
Emotional blackmail is when someone uses guilt, fear or preys on your insecurities to try and get you to do what they want.
Often it happens when one partner will not be open about their needs and will start playing emotional games to get what they want. Alternatively it can be a way of criticizing by withholding love and affection as a way of punishing unwanted behavior.
These types of games are played in the mind of the person playing them. It is notoriously difficult to confront someone about this issue, and they will deny it, change the subject or make a scene. If you could openly talk about it then it wouldn't be an issue, but since you can't it becomes an issue that gnaws away at you.
Emotional game playing is a destructive relationship habit and a huge red flag. It is very similar to passive aggressiveness in the sense that if you cannot openly discuss issues in the relationship then it is going to be very difficult to be emotionally intimate, trusting and able to move the relationship forward.
3. Undermining The Security Of The Relationship
When a relationship is just beginning things are extremely exciting. But you are also a little on edge because there is no commitment and you never know when someone just might up and walk away from things.
The longer the relationship lasts, the more likely it is to continue in the future. To paraphrase Barney in How I Met Your Mother, "Never expect a relationship to last longer than the time you have been together." In other words if the relationship is six months old, then you can't really count on it lasting anything longer than another six months. If it does then it's a bonus. But if the relationship is 5 years old, you can reasonably expect that it might last another 5 years.
In those early stages insecurity over whether the relationship will continue is normal. Not because of anything a girl might do or say, but just because the nature of a new relationship is that it might not last.
However once the relationship has some solid time behind it and things are settled, it is a reasonable expectation that neither partner should undermine that security by threatening the relationship, unless they genuinely want to end it.
If someone communicates in such a way that it makes you feel like she might leave you at any moment then you cannot develop a solid, safe and intimate bond. You will be constantly walking on eggshells, afraid to do or say the wrong thing lest it upsets her and makes her leave. You should be able to have healthy disagreements, a few fights and not worry that the relationship is going to be in jeopardy.
4. Insecurity And Jealousy
Insecurity is a fearful emotional state that sees threats and harm around every corner. Jealousy is an immediate knee jerk reaction to an unwanted behavior that normally has its roots in insecurity.
An insecure woman will often be defensive, threatening and in need of constant validation and reinforcement that you love her. She will be very needy and very clingy, smothering and suffocating you.
You will be forced into acting and behaving in a certain way to prevent her from become upset or enraged and you will feel your freedom being restricted.
This is problematic because it causes an unhealthy dependence on the relationship. Rather than proactively enjoying life, the relationship is the center of her universe and she sucks the life out of it like a cancer.
You cannot have a healthy shared space between you if her insecurity is devouring your happiness.
5. Fault Finding
We all have faults. Every individual regardless of whether you are a man or a woman has some things that are just going to grate on others.
A good relationship will find its way around these faults and mitigate the impact. Communication, compromise and sometimes just gritting your teeth is what is needed.
If someone goes out of their way to find your faults, remind you of them and use them as some kind of ammunition for their relationship scorecard then that is a major red flag. It shows that there is no support for the relationship and it becomes a power struggle and game of oneupmanship.
6. Constant Negativity
Nobody can maintain a sunny disposition all the time. Sometimes you need to go into your shell a little bit. It may be that someone is just very serene and content without ever appearing to be on top of the world. All of that is fine.
But if you are with someone who goes beyond neutral and is constantly negative then you better watch out. You will see it when they talk about their friends, their job, their money, their hobbies, anything. Constant moaning, whining and never any personal responsibility. The world is out to get them and its always someone else's fault. Don't get caught in that tornado.
7. Withholding Of Love and Affection
Sometimes you are so pissed off with someone that you don't actually want to be around them in that moment. You don't want to kiss, hug and make up. We've all been there. But ultimately after things have cooled down and the dust has settled you kiss and make up and things go back to normal.
However some people with a penchant for the dramatic will punish you for any misdemeanor by withholding love and affection until you have adequately atoned for your sins.
Affection is used a weapon to make you behave and it conditions you to be afraid of any kind of disagreement or conflict. This is a form of emotional blackmail that tries to make you into a lapdog. When you see this habit in your relationship then steer clear.
8. Failure To Listen Properly
Most people aren't good listeners. We hear the words being spoken but instead of actively taking on board the message we are thinking about what we are going to say next. We hear but we don't listen.
In a relationship this happens all the time on a day to day basis. I don't always listen properly when my girl comes home and tells me about her day.
But there are times, normally when you are having a deep and meaningful conversation where you really need to listen to each other. Not just hear the words, but listen and really feel what she is trying to tell you.
Just as you need to do that for her, she needs to do that for you. You need to be able sit down and have a meaningful discussion where she makes the time and effort to get where you are coming from.
If she won't do that - won't really listen - it is likely to be because she is too self centered and immature to actually take on board a different person's view and acknowledge another's feelings. This is not the basis for a mature relationship.
9. Over Dependency
There is no doubt that a relationship is a hugely important part in people's lives. However it shouldn't be the only part. You should be able to derive satisfaction in life from your work, your hobbies and relationships with family and friends. Over dependence on a relationship is a recipe for disaster.
It is very hard to notice a girl who is over dependent on the relationship at first. This is because you are in that blind phase where everything about the relationship is wonderful and every moment spent with your partner is bliss.
But as you get your senses back and return to normal the place the relationship has in your life finds its proper balance among other things.
However if this doesn't happen for your girl then be careful. As the rose tinted glasses come off she will become overly clingy. She may even become quite controlling, attempting to monopolize your time and prevent you from spending time with other people. She will get jealous and may engage in emotional blackmail.
A good partner will have their own life and their own interests and will want to make you a part of their life, not the center of it. Obviously as the relationship grows, you move closer to the center, however it's not healthy to be there right from the start.
Be careful of any woman who demands you drop everything else in life for her.
- Dealing With Destructive Relationships
- Independence In Relationships
- Jealousy And Insecurity - What's The Difference?
- Relationship Warning Signs: 7 Reasons It Might Be Going Wrong
- Nine Qualities To Look For In A Woman