6 seemingly minor things you should never tolerate in a relationship

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Building a fulfilling relationship takes work.

While it’s essential to focus on major issues, paying attention to the little things can also help you gauge the potential of your partnership.

What can look like insignificant red flags eventually escalate, eroding trust.

Before long, you wake up wondering where things went wrong – and whether there’s anything you could have done about it.

Here are 6 seemingly minor things you should never tolerate in a relationship.

They might seem small, but they speak volumes.

1) Cancelled plans and chronic lateness

If your partner consistently cancels plans or shows up late, I strongly suggest you address the issue ASAP.

It’s a sign of disrespect.

Your partner isn’t considerate of your time. And tolerating this minor habit will lead you to become resentful.

There’s a running joke in sitcoms where the husband waits around for his wife to get ready, and she never manages to get out the door as quickly as he would like.

That may play for laughs on TV, but it’s incredibly frustrating in real life.

I’m not talking about instances that happen once or twice.

I’m talking about when you notice a pattern:

  • Your partner consistently keeps you waiting at your designated meeting spot
  • Your partner cancels plans without giving you enough notice
  • Your partner cancels plans without giving you a good enough reason (not feeling like it anymore isn’t a good enough reason)
  • You are constantly experiencing disappointment
  • Their lateness and flakiness negatively affect the quality of the time you spend together

Chronic lateness and frequent cancellations might signal underlying issues such as disinterest or problems within the relationship.

Whatever it may be, talking things out is highly advisable.

Which brings me to my next point.

2) Procrastination of serious discussions

Is your partner avoiding serious conversations?

They might not be as committed to you as you would like.

Tolerating a lack of communication, even in seemingly trivial matters, creates a rift over time.

You likely know this, but you keep believing them when they postpone talks.

Your partner is too tired, too stressed, too overwhelmed to engage in a serious discussion.

It’s not a big deal. You can talk about what’s bothering you tomorrow.

But tomorrow comes, and your boo is still unwilling to have a chat.

So you tell yourself it can wait until the weekend.

When the weekend comes, your partner has another excuse at the ready, so you agree to postpone once more.

Before you know it, three months have passed.

And that thing that was bothering you?  

You still haven’t found the right moment to talk things through.

3) Disregard for boundaries (no matter how small)

I’m an introvert who craves alone time to recharge.

The right people don’t drain my social battery. But even when I’m around them, I still need a few minutes to myself every now and then.

Thankfully, all my boyfriends respected this and never got upset (I hope?) when I told them I would sit in another room for a little bit, all by myself.

They might not have understood it, but they let me be.

Everyone has boundaries, and if your significant other doesn’t respect them, it’s cause for concern.

As with all things on the list, it’s probably something so small you feel silly addressing it:

  • Your partner initiates physical contact (e.g., hugging, kissing) after you tell them you need some personal space (but they’re being so cute!)
  • Your partner makes plans for you both without consulting you, despite you telling him that this gives you anxiety (but they’re trying to get me out of my comfort zone!)
  • Your partner casually shares details about your personal experiences with others after you tell him you want to keep certain things private (but they’re talking about you; that’s nice!)
  • Your partner repeatedly asks for access to your phone – to order food or quickly check something – after you tell him this makes you uncomfortable (but this demonstrates we don’t have any secrets!)

As you can see, it’s easy to rationalize their behavior and make excuses.

It’s also not the healthiest approach.

That would be to remind them about your boundaries.

4) Ill-intentioned criticism

Partners are supposed to help each other grow, which usually involves offering constructive feedback.

The key word there is constructive.

If that feedback becomes malicious, stand up for yourself.

While constructive criticism aims to offer suggestions for improvement in a supportive manner, ill-intentioned criticism belittles or undermines the other person:

  • It targets your character, personality, or identity rather than focusing on specific behaviors
  • It frequently involves a distortion or manipulation of facts to magnify the negative aspects
  • Your partner shows little or no concern for the impact of their words on your feelings

Ill-intentioned criticism may be used as a tool for manipulation or control within the relationship, as it negatively impacts your self-worth.

Let’s say your partner is unhappy with how you two share household responsibilities.

In the context of constructive criticism, they would say something like: “It feels like the division of household chores isn’t balanced, and I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with my share. Can we talk about how we can adjust things to make it more equitable?”

Ill-intentioned criticism, however, would sound like this: “You never do anything around the house, I always have to clean up after you, and it’s exhausting. I can’t believe you’re so lazy.”

Notice the difference?

Pay attention to the tone, the language used, and the purpose of the statement.

If your boo is looking for solutions, amazing!

If they are attacking and belittling you, don’t sit quietly and take it, telling yourself they need to blow off some steam.

Stand your ground.

5) Mocking

On a similar note, mocking isn’t something you should put up with, especially if it causes you emotional harm.

Good-natured teasing is one thing, but your feelings get hurt when the banter veers from playful to malevolent.

Tell your partner about it.

Over time, cruel remarks make you question your worth and capabilities, leading to a diminished sense of self.

Even when they were meant to be funny.

You’ll trust your partner less and may even begin to put up walls and act like someone you’re not to avoid becoming a target.

Things will only go downhill from there.

Start by expressing your feelings to your partner in a calm and honest manner.

Then, share specific instances when their teasing has hurt you and ask them to tone it down.

If they care for you, they’ll get the message.

6) The silent treatment

Another seemingly minor thing you should never tolerate in a relationship is the silent treatment.

Well, any form of withholding affection, but the silent treatment is the most common.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve witnessed numerous instances growing up when two spouses wouldn’t speak to each other because they were upset.

At some point, I registered this as mundane. For a long time, it didn’t seem like a big deal if a partner refused to talk to me for a while when he was mad.

However, the silent treatment creates a complete breakdown in communication, making you feel isolated and tense.

It can also be used as a form of emotional manipulation. For instance, if your partner refuses to talk to you until you satisfy their wishes.  

Your significant other has all the right to ask for a timeout if they are angry or have things to reflect on, but they should be upfront about it.

Abruptly halting all communication is a big no-no.

Call them out.

If the silent treatment becomes a recurring pattern, friends will begin to use the word “dysfunctional” when asked to describe you and your boo.

Bottom line

Unmet expectations, unaddressed grievances, small actions that bother you – these accumulate over time.

When they finally become a major source of friction, it can be too late to find a solution.

That’s why it’s essential to talk things through with your partner from early on to fix the problem and, hopefully, strengthen your relationship in the process.

Tolerating behaviors that bug you will maintain the peace for now, but it’s a lousy long-term strategy.

Whoever tells you otherwise doesn’t have your best interest at heart. 

Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Pleșa is a freelance writer obsessed with television, self-development, and thriller books. Former journalist, current pop culture junkie. Follow her on Twitter: @alexandraplesa

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