9 signs you’re enabling your partner’s bad behaviors, according to psychology

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There’s a small distinction between supporting your partner and enabling their not-so-great behaviors.

Psychology helps us understand that line, showing us the difference between being a helpful companion and a complicit enabler.

Sometimes, love can blind us to habits that aren’t beneficial in the long run. Recognizing these signs can help you stop inadvertently promoting your partner’s harmful habits.

In this article, we’ll be exploring 10 signs that psychology says might indicate you’re unknowingly enabling your partner’s bad behaviors.

Brace yourself; some of them might just surprise you.

1) You’re always playing the rescuer

Giving a helping hand is good but consistently rushing to your partner’s aid in situations they can handle themselves? That’s different.

In the words of renowned psychologist, Carl Jung, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” By always playing the rescuer, you might be unconsciously promoting your partner’s reliance on you for problem-solving.

This might feel like love or support, but in reality, it could be a sign you’re enabling bad behaviors.

It’s crucial to encourage responsibility and problem-solving skills in your partner. It’s okay to step back sometimes, and let them navigate their own challenges.

2) You make excuses for their actions

I remember a time when my partner consistently arrived late for our dates. Instead of addressing the issue, I found myself making excuses for her, saying she was just “fashionably late” or “always busy.”

This behavior, psychology tells us, is a form of enabling. By making excuses for your partner’s negative behavior, you’re indirectly giving them permission to continue acting that way.

In my case, I had to stop making excuses and have an open conversation with my partner about the importance of respect for each other’s time.

It wasn’t easy, but it was a necessary step towards breaking the cycle of enabling.

3) You’re afraid to set boundaries

There was a time when I found myself scared to express my feelings or set boundaries in my relationship for fear of causing conflict. I would often suppress my own needs to keep the peace.

Not setting boundaries because you’re afraid of your partner’s reaction is a major sign that you’re enabling their bad behaviors.

In other words, it’s in our power to choose how we react and what we tolerate in our relationships.

Setting boundaries isn’t just about saying ‘no’ to your partner; it’s about saying ‘yes’ to respect and healthy relationship dynamics.

Learning to set boundaries was a tough but necessary step for me. It not only enabled me to stop enabling my partner’s bad behavior, but also helped me find my voice in the relationship.

4) You ignore their negative behaviors

It’s easy to turn a blind eye to your partner’s negative behaviors, especially when you’re deeply in love. I remember doing this, thinking that love meant accepting everything about a person, even their not-so-great habits.

If your partner never faces the consequences of their actions, they have no reason to change.

Tony Gaskins, a motivational speaker and author, once said, “You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.”

When we ignore our partner’s negative behaviors, we’re teaching them that these actions are acceptable.

It’s essential to address these issues openly and honestly. Trust me, it’s not always easy, but it makes a world of difference in the health of your relationship.

5) You believe you can change them

Believe it or not, thinking you can change your partner’s bad behaviors might be a sign that you’re enabling those very behaviors.

I once held onto the belief that with enough love and patience, I could change my partner’s unhealthy habits.

Trying to change someone can inadvertently reinforce their negative behaviors, as they may resist this perceived control and double down on their habits.

Acceptance and encouragement for self-improvement from a place of love and understanding are often more effective catalysts for change.

This shift in perspective changed my relationship for the better and stopped the cycle of enabling. It was a hard pill to swallow, but realizing this was a turning point for our relationship.

6) You prioritize their needs over yours

Selflessness is a beautiful trait in a relationship, but it can become problematic when you consistently prioritize your partner’s needs over your own.

I’ve learned this the hard way, often finding myself drained and unfulfilled.

According to renowned psychologist Abraham Maslow, “You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” Prioritizing our own needs isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for personal growth and a balanced relationship.

Putting yourself first doesn’t mean neglecting your partner’s needs. It means understanding that you can’t pour from an empty cup.

By looking after your own well-being, you’re in a better position to support your partner in a healthy way.

7) You feel responsible for their happiness

I remember a time when I felt solely responsible for my partner’s happiness. It was as if their emotions were a direct reflection of my actions.

However, this thought process is not only exhausting, but it can also enable your partner’s bad behaviors.

Feeling responsible for another person’s happiness can lead to enabling because it creates a dynamic where your partner may not take responsibility for their own emotions or actions.

It’s important to understand that everyone is in charge of their own happiness. We can support our loved ones, but we cannot carry their burdens for them.

8) You avoid confrontations

It might seem counterintuitive, but avoiding confrontations can actually enable your partner’s bad behaviors.

I used to think that by sidestepping arguments, I was maintaining peace in our relationship.

By avoiding confrontations, we’re not addressing the issues at hand. This can lead to resentment and unhappiness, while also allowing negative behaviors to persist.

Remember, healthy confrontation is a necessary part of any relationship. It’s about communication and expressing your feelings openly, rather than attacking or blaming each other. It’s not always easy but it’s absolutely necessary for growth.

9) You feel drained and unfulfilled

Perhaps one of the most telling signs that you’re enabling your partner’s bad behaviors is when you constantly feel drained or unfulfilled.

I’ve been there, feeling like a shadow of my former self, lost in my partner’s issues.

Feeling drained or unfulfilled could be a sign that you’re not nurturing your own spiritual growth because you’re too wrapped up in your partner’s behavior.

It’s essential to take care of yourself and ensure your own happiness while helping your partner grow.

It’s a balance that can lead to a healthier, happier relationship.

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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