Being in a relationship with the right partner is perhaps one of the most comforting feelings in the world.
You have someone to share your life with, and when the chips are down, you’ve got someone to hug you and cheer you up.
But make no mistake – a relationship is a two-way street. Just as finding the right person is important, so is being the right partner.
That’s right – for a relationship to be healthy, both partners need to put in the effort. And it’s a continuous effort, not one that ends once you make the commitment.
Part of that is cultivating “best relationship practices,” which include knowing what not to do.
In this article, I’ll share ten things you should never do if you want to be a good partner. Let’s dive in!
1) Break your partner’s trust
First up, let’s talk about trust, since it’s one of the cornerstones of a healthy relationship.
Naturally, being a good partner means being honest and trustworthy.
But let’s face it, it’s also one of the most challenging things to do, isn’t it?
We’re such imperfect beings that sometimes we slip into a white lie or break a promise so easily.
Unfortunately, when it comes to relationships, the devil is in the details. It’s not just the big stuff like cheating that can damage a relationship.
Even little white lies and broken promises can accumulate over time and cause your partner to lose faith in you.
So, be open, honest, and reliable. The strongest relationships are those where both partners can depend on each other to tell the truth.
2) Dismiss your partner’s feelings
I was once in a relationship with a guy whose first reaction whenever I got a little emotional was this – “You’re overreacting.”
That never failed to make me both sad and angry. I felt dismissed, as if my feelings didn’t matter.
I do get it, though, that sometimes it’s not intentional. Sometimes, we say things unmindfully, maybe because we’re too wrapped up in our own world to really pause and consider how our partner is feeling.
But if you want to be a good partner, it pays to be mindful. Never disregard or trivialize your partner’s feelings. They are just as valid as yours.
Listen to what they’re saying, even if it doesn’t seem crucial at the moment. Maybe it may seem like nothing to you, but it might be a big deal for them.
3) Take your partner for granted
This is connected to my previous point. Being dismissive is just one example of taking your partner for granted.
Let’s do a little self-check. Do you do any of these things that could make your partner feel taken for granted?
- Ignoring their advice or suggestions
- Not spending enough time with them
- Assuming they’ll always be there
- Not noticing when there’s something new about them
- Forgetting to express your love
- Making decisions without them
…And the most important one – forgetting to appreciate them.
Maybe you’ve gotten so used to your partner packing a lunch for you or taking out the trash that you barely acknowledge these anymore.
Guess what? The best partners are the ones who stay grateful and express that gratitude. They know that gratitude plays a huge role in building a strong relationship.
Here’s why: According to research, expressing appreciation releases oxytocin – the “love hormone.” So, every time you’re grateful and you express that to your partner, you both feel good and connected to each other!
4) Make major decisions without them
I mentioned this in the list above, but I think it bears a little more discussion because it can be a real dealbreaker.
Think about it: how would you feel if your partner went ahead and bought a house without telling you?
Or took a job that involves moving to another state?
Surely, that would make you all sorts of angry, right? How dare them make such huge decisions without asking you first?
Essentially, when your partner does this, they’re telling you that your opinion isn’t important.
And that doesn’t bode well for your relationship.
5) Communicate disrespectfully
How do you deal when conflict arises? Do you keep things on an even keel, or do you escalate to yelling, name-calling, or using curse words and degrading language?
Look, every relationship – even the most solid ones – has its share of disagreements.
Personally, I think that disagreement adds a little bit of texture and keeps things exciting.
But the key to handling those disagreements successfully is in your communication style.
No matter how angry or upset you are, remember to choose your words carefully.
And be mindful of your body language, too.
For example, did you know that rolling your eyes is one of the top predictors that your relationship won’t succeed?
That’s right – that tiny facial expression says a lot more about a relationship than you think.
According to Dr. John Gottman, author of “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work,” it signifies contempt and disdain.
It’s a pattern he has observed in his work in observing troubled relationships and is the number one predictor of a breakup.
6) Constantly bring up past mistakes
Speaking of conflict, do you rehash past mistakes over and over? Do you say you’ve forgiven them, yet dig it back up and throw it at them again the next time you argue?
That’s a habit you’ll need to break. Bringing up past mistakes does a lot of damage because: 1) it keeps the wound open, and 2) it makes your partner feel guilty over and over.
Once you’ve talked about an issue and sorted it out, let it go. It should no longer be a part of your future.
There’s a lovely Ruth Graham quote that encapsulates this: “A good marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
7) Be controlling
Another thing to steer clear of if you want a healthy relationship is to be controlling.
No one, and I mean no one, likes feeling controlled. It’s suffocating and downright frustrating. It’s a surefire way to make your partner dread being with you.
If you find yourself constantly telling them what to do, where to go, or who to be, hold up. You’re their partner, not Stalin or Mussolini.
What would your partner appreciate? Room to grow. To explore. The freedom to be themselves.
After all, that’s who you fell in love with, right?
8) Deprive them of their space and me-time
Aside from the freedom to be themselves, give your partner space and alone time.
See, even if you’re a team, you’re two separate individuals with your own interests and sets of friends.
This is an idea many people forget. Once they’re in a relationship, they turn clingy, barely allowing the other person to breathe.
They might think it’s love, but really, too much togetherness can be overwhelming.
Some people may also be naturally built to have a greater need for alone time.
Like me, for instance. I’m the type that gets cranky when I don’t have the space and the time to go off on solo coffee dates or just do my own thing.
Thankfully, my husband understands that, so he doesn’t take it personally when I say I need to be alone for a while.
Which brings me to my next point…
9) Neglect your own needs
Many people equate being a good partner with being endlessly giving. To the point of setting their own needs aside.
But like I said, a relationship is a two-way street. Your needs matter just as much as your partner’s.
Maybe you need more attention from your partner. More quality time. Maybe you’d like them to help out with the chores at home. Whatever it is, make your needs known.
This is a preemptive move against resentment. Otherwise, you’re bound to feel exhausted and unfulfilled.
Plus, when you take care of yourself, you have more energy to give back to the relationship. Win-win!
10) Stop learning about your partner
Finally, here’s what I think separates good partners from great ones. A desire to keep learning about each other!
Why is this so important?
Well, it’s an acknowledgment that your partner is a multifaceted person who’s growing and evolving by the day.
Of course, you know them very well, but let’s face it – no matter how close we are to a person, we can’t ever know every single thing about them.
My husband and I take this to heart, so even if we’ve been married for almost 20 years, we never run out of things to say.
To this day, I love discovering something new about him – a childhood story, what he thinks about certain issues/movies/books…I mean, there’s just so much I have yet to learn!
This curious attitude is going to keep your relationship exciting. It will help you to always look at each other with fresh eyes, no matter how long you’ve been together.
As you can see, being a good partner doesn’t involve promising them the moon and the stars. Or surprising them with a fancy trip to their bucket-list destination (although if you can do that, why not?).
It’s all about the small, consistent actions that convey a degree of respect, care, and steady love.
Because truly, those are what will hold you up when that thrilling butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling has died down.