7 habits that are secretly sabotaging your relationships with others

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Ever wonder why some friendships or family ties hit a rough patch?

Sometimes, it’s not the big fights or arguments that cause problems. Instead, it’s the small, everyday habits we don’t even notice.

These little things can add up and make people drift apart without understanding why.

In this article, we’ll talk about 8 habits that are secretly sabotaging your relationships with others.

These habits might be happening right under your nose. But don’t worry, I’ll help you figure out what they are so you can avoid them.

Let’s get started. 

1. Constantly Checking Your Phone

Picture this: You’re having dinner with a friend or family member, and in the middle of a conversation, you hear that familiar ‘ding’ from your phone.

Without thinking, you reach for it and start scrolling.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many of us do it.

But here’s the thing: Even though it feels normal to check our phones all the time, it can really hurt our relationships.

When we’re glued to our screens, we’re not really paying attention to the person we’re with.

We might think we’re good at multitasking, but our friends or family can feel ignored or unimportant.

It’s like saying, “Hold on, this message is more interesting than what you’re telling me.” Ouch!

So what can you do about it?

Try putting the phone away during meals or important talks. Give the people you’re with your full attention.

They’ll notice, and your relationships will get stronger and more genuine.

Remember, that text or social media update will still be there later.

But the chance to connect with someone who matters to you? That’s happening right now.

2. Being Too Busy for Others

Life can get wild. Between work, errands, and just trying to keep up with everything, we can all feel swamped.

I know I’ve felt that way, and maybe you have too. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our to-do lists that we forget to make time for the people we care about.

I remember once promising my best friend I’d make it to her art show. But work got crazy, and I kept pushing our plans back until I completely missed the event. She was disappointed, and I felt terrible.

That experience taught me something important: being too busy for others can slowly push them away.

We might not mean to, but when we break promises or cancel plans, it sends a message that other things are more important.

The fix? Make time for the people you care about. Even if it’s just a quick call or a coffee catch-up.

Show them they matter. After all, relationships are like plants; they need regular care to thrive.

Take it from me; you don’t want to learn this lesson the hard way. Cherish those close to you by showing up, and you’ll find your connections with them deepening in beautiful ways.

3. Always Being the Peacemaker

Always stepping in to keep the peace can actually hurt relationships. Let me explain.

Imagine you’re always the one who backs down during an argument, even when you feel strongly about something.

Or you constantly mediate between friends but never express your own feelings.

Over time, this can lead to resentment, a lack of honesty, and an imbalance in your relationships.

Being the peacemaker means you’re putting everyone else’s feelings first and your own last.

And while that might keep things calm on the surface, it can create a storm of unspoken emotions underneath.

The surprising solution? Sometimes, it’s healthier to express your feelings and stand your ground.

It’s okay to have disagreements. In fact, they can make your relationships stronger, more honest, and more real.

So next time you feel like playing the peacemaker, ask yourself if it’s truly the best thing for your relationship, or if you’re just avoiding a necessary conversation.

Trust me, facing conflicts head-on can lead to deeper, more meaningful connections.

4: Pretending Everything’s Fine When It’s Not

We all do it. We smile and say, “I’m fine,” even when our hearts are breaking.

We laugh off serious issues with our partner, our friends, our family, pretending that everything’s okay when, in reality, we’re a mess inside.

I’ve been there, and maybe you have too.

Why do we do this?

Maybe it’s pride, fear of vulnerability, or not wanting to be a burden.

But here’s the unvarnished truth: Pretending everything’s fine when it’s not doesn’t protect our relationships; it harms them.

By hiding our true feelings, we build walls between ourselves and the people who care about us.

We create a distance that grows wider with every unspoken word.

And the worst part? Our loved ones can often sense that something’s wrong, leading to confusion and frustration.

I know it’s scary to open up, especially when emotions are raw.

But honesty is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship.

If something’s bothering you, say it. If you’re hurt, express it. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it’s the only path to genuine healing and connection.

Your friends, your family, your partner – they love you.

They want to know what’s really going on with you.

So let them in. Be real with them. It might just bring you closer than you ever imagined.

5: Expecting Others to Read Your Mind

I used to have this habit of getting upset when people didn’t understand what I wanted or how I felt. It sounds silly, but I would think, “They should know me by now!”

Whether it was my partner forgetting to do something I never actually asked them to do, or a friend not picking up on my subtle hints, I found myself frustrated over misunderstandings.

Then it hit me: I was expecting them to read my mind.

People aren’t mind readers. No matter how close you are to someone, they won’t always intuitively know what you’re thinking or feeling.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when emotions are running high, but it’s true.

This expectation creates a breeding ground for disappointment, confusion, and resentment.

And trust me, it can sneak up on you and undermine even the strongest relationships.

So what did I learn from this realization?

Communication is key. If something’s bothering you, speak up.

If you need something, ask for it. Don’t assume that others know what you’re thinking or what you need. It’s a simple shift, but it makes a world of difference.

By opening up, being clear, and expressing what’s on your mind, you foster understanding and empathy.

And in the long run, it will help your relationships grow and thrive.

Take it from me: Drop the mind-reading act and embrace clear communication. Your relationships will thank you.

6: Holding onto Grudges

We’ve all been there. Someone close to us says or does something that really stings, and even though we might smile and move on, deep down, we’re holding onto it.

That grudge starts to fester, silently souring our feelings toward that person.

I remember a situation where a friend made an offhand comment about a career choice I had made.

It wasn’t meant to be hurtful, but I took it to heart. Instead of addressing it, I let it simmer, and it began to affect how I interacted with that friend.

Every conversation felt strained, and our once easy-going relationship became awkward.

Holding onto grudges is like carrying around a heavy bag of rocks.

Sure, you can do it, but it weighs you down and makes everything more difficult.

The longer you carry it, the heavier it feels, and the more it strains your relationships.

The hard truth is, nobody’s perfect. People will say or do things that hurt us, sometimes without even realizing it.

If we hold onto every slight, every misunderstanding, we risk losing connections that could otherwise be rich and fulfilling.

It’s not always easy to let go of a grudge, but it’s vital for the health of our relationships.

Talk it out, forgive, and move on. You’ll feel lighter, and your relationships will be stronger for it.

7. Avoiding Arguments at All Costs

Arguments and disagreements can be uncomfortable, no doubt about it.

Many of us, myself included, have fallen into the trap of thinking that avoiding arguments is the key to maintaining peaceful relationships.

But could this actually be doing more harm than good?

Here’s the surprising truth: Avoiding arguments doesn’t necessarily make a relationship stronger; it might actually weaken it.

When we sidestep disagreements, we often suppress our real thoughts and feelings.

Maybe it’s to keep the peace, or maybe it’s out of fear of rocking the boat.

But over time, those unexpressed feelings can build up, creating tension and resentment.

Think of a disagreement not as a battle to be won but as an opportunity to understand and be understood.

It’s a chance to learn more about each other, to clarify misunderstandings, and to grow together.

Of course, this doesn’t mean picking a fight over every little thing. It means being willing to engage in honest, respectful dialogue when disagreements arise.

It means valuing the relationship enough to risk temporary discomfort for long-term growth and connection.

I’ve found that the more I embrace this counterintuitive approach, the more authentic and resilient my relationships become. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

So next time you find yourself shying away from a disagreement, remember: It’s not the argument itself but how you handle it that matters.

Embrace the challenge, speak your truth, and watch your relationships flourish in unexpected ways.

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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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