8 things you should never tolerate in a relationship, according to psychology

Relationships are a bit like rollercoasters, right? They’ve got their ups and downs, twists and turns.

But sometimes, amidst all the fun and excitement, there might be some not-so-great stuff that creeps in.

Now, we’re not talking about the small quirks that everyone has (like leaving socks on the floor). We’re diving into the serious red flags that you really shouldn’t ignore in a relationship.

Psychology tells us that certain behaviors or patterns can be harmful, not just annoying. And it’s super important to recognize these to keep your relationship healthy and happy.

In this article, I’ll go through 8 things that you should absolutely never tolerate in a relationship, backed by the wisdom of psychology.

Let’s get started. 

1. Lack of communication

Individuals who struggle with communication often find it hard to talk about issues or express their feelings.

In crucial moments where openness and honesty are needed, they might emotionally distance themselves, leaving their partner to deal with situations alone.

This lack of effective communication often manifests as moodiness or the dreaded “silent treatment”.

In relationships, open and clear communication is essential. It’s the foundation on which trust, understanding, and emotional connection are built.

When communication breaks down, it can lead to misunderstandings, resentment, and a feeling of isolation within the relationship.

Therefore, recognizing and addressing issues with communication early on is crucial for the health and longevity of any relationship.

2. Disrespect

Disrespect can show up in many forms, like belittling comments, dismissive attitudes, or even outright insults.

It chips away at the foundation of love and mutual respect that’s crucial in any healthy relationship.

To highlight the importance of respect in relationships, consider this powerful quote from Mahatma Gandhi: “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

This quote beautifully captures the essence of not tolerating disrespect. It’s a reminder that allowing someone to treat you poorly is akin to letting them dirty the sacred spaces of your mind and heart.

In relationships, it’s vital to set boundaries against disrespect, ensuring that both partners treat each other with the dignity and respect they deserve.

3. Trust issues

Trust is the glue that holds a relationship together, and without it, things can quickly fall apart.

While some people may have good reasons for their mistrust, a consistent lack of trust can lead to severe consequences in relationships.

It can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, depression, or even antisocial behavior.

It’s well-established that tust plays a pivotal role in relationship satisfaction.

Trust directly influences the perception of a partner’s actions, affecting how we interpret and respond to them.

When trust is absent, individuals are more likely to interpret their partner’s behavior negatively, leading to a cycle of misunderstanding and conflict.

It’s clear that maintaining and nurturing trust is crucial in any relationship.

If trust issues arise, addressing them head-on through open communication, mutual understanding, and possibly professional help is essential for the relationship’s longevity and health.

4. Emotional manipulation

Emotional manipulation involves attempts to control or change a situation or someone’s behavior, often for personal gain or to avoid something negative.

This manipulation can be subtle, like guilt-tripping, or more direct, like threats or emotional blackmail.

Manipulation can take various forms, from emotional and verbal to physical and financial.

It often involves an externalization of responsibility, where the manipulator makes someone else responsible for their behavior or well-being.

For example, someone might say, “You can’t say that to me because you know I am an anxious person” or “If you leave, I will kill myself.”

These are examples of emotional manipulation, where the responsibility for one’s feelings or actions is unfairly placed on the partner​​.

From a personal perspective, I’ve seen how damaging emotional manipulation can be in relationships.

It can create a toxic environment where one partner feels constantly on edge, trying to appease the other to avoid conflict or discomfort.

This imbalance can lead to a cycle of manipulation that’s hard to break, especially if the person being manipulated starts to believe they are responsible for their partner’s emotions or actions.

5. Constant criticism

Constant criticism, especially when it’s negative and not constructive, can wear down your self-esteem and make you feel undervalued and unloved in the relationship.

To put this into perspective, consider this insightful quote by author and poet Maya Angelou: “Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. I think they get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally into you.”

Angelou’s quote elegantly captures the profound impact that words can have.

In the context of a relationship, constant criticism can seep into your psyche, affecting your self-image and overall well-being.

It’s essential to foster an environment where both partners feel safe and uplifted, rather than belittled and constantly criticized.

6. Financial control

Financial control in a relationship can manifest in many ways, from one partner making all the money-related decisions without consulting the other to restricting access to funds.

This form of control can be a significant red flag, indicating an imbalance of power in the relationship.

A study by Kerkmann, Lee, Lown, and Allgood in 2000 examined financial management behaviors and perceptions of finances among 310 participants from student family housing at Utah State University.

The study found a strong relationship between how finances were managed and marital satisfaction.

The researchers noted that being able to control aspects of married life, like managing finances and feeling effective at it, was crucial for how satisfied the chief family money managers felt with their marriage​​.

Additionally, another study by Francis-Tan & Mialon in 2014 revealed an inverse relationship between wedding expenses and marriage duration, suggesting that financial stress and decisions can significantly impact the longevity of a relationship.

Specifically, they found that men who spent more on engagement rings and women whose weddings were more expensive were more likely to get divorced​​.

These studies highlight the importance of financial equality and open communication about money in a relationship.

Both partners should have a say in financial decisions, and there should be transparency and mutual respect regarding money matters to foster a healthy and balanced partnership.

7. Emotional neglect

Emotional neglect happens when your emotional needs are consistently ignored or dismissed by your partner.

It’s not about the occasional oversight but a persistent pattern where your feelings and emotional well-being are not given the attention and care they deserve.

From a personal perspective, emotional neglect can be incredibly subtle, making it hard to recognize at times.

It’s those moments when you feel alone even when you’re together, or when your achievements and struggles seem to go unnoticed.

This lack of emotional support can leave a deep impact on one’s self-esteem and happiness.

Renowned psychologist Carl Jung once said, “Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.”

This quote resonates deeply with the concept of emotional neglect. It’s not about the physical presence of a partner but the emotional connection and understanding.

In a relationship, it’s crucial to feel heard, understood, and valued.

When these elements are missing, it can lead to a sense of loneliness and disconnection, regardless of how much time you spend together.

8. Infidelity

Infidelity can deeply damage the trust and bond in a relationship, leading to a range of negative consequences.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology explored how experiences of infidelity impact future relationships.

It found that both cheating on a partner and being cheated on were associated with lower relationship quality in current relationships.

This suggests that the effects of infidelity extend beyond the immediate aftermath and can impact future relationships as well​​.

The study also revealed that 26% of respondents had cheated on a romantic partner at some point.

Those who had betrayed a partner in the past perceived their current relationships as lower in quality compared to those who had not cheated.

This aligns with previous evidence indicating that people who cheat tend to have higher sex drives​​.

Furthermore, 44% of respondents reported having been victims of cheating.

Like those who had cheated, these individuals also reported lower current relationship quality.

This finding may reflect previous research showing that those who have been cheated on are more likely to cheat in the future​​.

These findings underscore the profound impact infidelity can have, not just on the relationship in which it occurs but on individuals’ future relationships as well.

The breach of trust and emotional damage caused by infidelity can lead to a cycle of distrust and dissatisfaction in relationships, emphasizing the importance of fidelity and trust in maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships.

In conclusion

In wrapping up, it’s vital to remember that healthy relationships are built on respect, trust, and open communication.

Understanding and avoiding behaviors like poor communication, disrespect, trust issues, emotional manipulation, constant criticism, financial control, emotional neglect, and infidelity is essential for a nurturing and balanced relationship.

To echo the words of Carl Rogers, a renowned psychologist known for his work on humanistic psychology, “The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.”

This applies beautifully to relationships as well. A good relationship is a continual journey of growth, understanding, and mutual respect.

It’s about traveling in a direction where both partners feel valued, understood, and loved.

The true essence of a relationship lies not just in the joyful moments, but in the commitment to grow and navigate challenges together.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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