13 small habits that undermine even great relationships

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When it comes to relationships, it’s the small, simple habits that can have major, positive effects over time.

But one thing we tend to overlook is that there are everyday habits that secretly hurt relationships, too.

In this article, we break down these tiny, seemingly inconsequential habits that undermine even great relationships. 

Find out if you’re guilty of any of these behaviors, and what you can do to prevent them from damaging a great bond.

Let’s get started.

1) Taking your partner for granted

When was the last time you acknowledged your partner for the day-to-day things they do to make your life easier?

When you’re caught up in the busyness of the day’s routines, it’s easy to forget to appreciate the little things your partner does to lighten your load.

But neglecting to recognize their efforts can breed feelings of resentment. 

You can’t expect to build a positive connection over time if you fail to validate your partner for all the work they put into the relationship. 

Grand gestures are not necessary. More often than not, making a conscious effort to say thank you or giving a thoughtful compliment is all it takes to make someone feel loved and appreciated

2) Ignoring your partner’s interests and needs

There’s a disconnect that happens when physical touch or interactions take a back seat in a relationship.

Sure, passionate feelings may tend to fade, but that doesn’t mean you should keep it that way. 

Bringing back little touches here and there — like a quick hug or a peck on the cheek — helps to show how much you care about the person.

Plus, your partner can feel unaccepted when you don’t acknowledge their passions and interests. Find little ways to provide the necessary support when they need it most.

3) Not prioritizing quality time together

Do you and your partner intentionally set aside time to enjoy those small, everyday moments?

When was the last time you and your partner had intimate conversations, you know the ones that are not about work or the grocery list?

The happiness and excitement that you had at the start of the relationship may fade when you and your partner don’t talk about each other and the relationship. 

Staying curious is what helps you get to know each other more fully and deeply. 

4) Losing yourself in the relationship

On the other hand, there are also a lot of downsides to being together and doing everything together all the time.

When forgoing ‘me-time’ and neglecting self-care becomes a habit, it can be harmful not only to your relationship but to your overall well-being. 

That’s because you’ll lose your sense of self if you don’t have a life outside the relationship. 

You also need to make time for other things that fulfill you, like reconnecting with family and friends and pursuing hobbies and goals. 

5) Nagging, complaining, and criticizing

Never underestimate how harsh words can take a toll on your partner’s self-esteem and create emotional distance between the two of you. 

Of course, you’re inevitably going to complain about some of your partner’s qualities and behaviors.

But if you express that in ways that attack your partner’s character and values, it can be so destructive to your relationship. 

If you always snap at your partner with a barrage of “you always” or “you never” statements and nag them about issues that bother you, it only creates tension and division.

6) Not wanting to listen

Let’s face it: We all want to be heard and understood. It can be very frustrating when you’re talking and your partner doesn’t even bother to listen to what you have to say.

And it can get worse: More often than not, we’re too busy thinking of how to respond instead of really paying attention to what the other person is saying.

Here’s the deal: A relationship won’t grow and thrive without effective and open dialogue. And a crucial aspect of that is active listening, which allows you to validate and empathize with your partner’s experience.

7) Breaking promises

Ok, I know what you’re thinking: Following through on a promise is not always easy, and there can be valid reasons for failing to do so. 

But when you have a habit of saying you’re going to do something and then you don’t keep your word, it erodes the trust between you and your partner over time. 

Even breaking little promises will make your partner feel that you’re unreliable and not trustworthy. And when you repeatedly let them down, they may choose to make an exit plan. 

8) Playing the blame game

When something goes wrong in your relationship, do you automatically blame your partner

Do you often find yourself criticizing your partner for not giving you the attention you need at all times?

The thing is, it’s not your partner’s responsibility to make you feel better every single time. 

You have to take responsibility for your own emotions and go after what you need instead of dumping the blame on your partner.

The same is true with arguments. Instead of assigning blame, it’s best to figure out what went wrong and what you can do to resolve the issue. 

9) Refusing to apologize and forgive

Forgiveness is a key ingredient of healthy relationships. Yes, it takes time to heal and bounce back from missteps in a relationship.

But forgiveness is a skill that allows you and your partner to move on from hurtful actions and create a stronger bond moving forward.

Without it, conflicts are much less likely to resolve. That’s because one or both parties may hold on to grudges that can cause stress and anxiety.

Also, it’s hard to build a strong relationship if you or your partner don’t own up to mistakes and apologize when you’ve screwed up.

10) Keeping score

This one’s a bit tricky. On the one hand, we know that partners in a healthy relationship give freely without expecting anything in return.

But relationships are also about give and take. How do you strike a balance?

Well, the problem happens when partners tally every good and bad deed — ‘who’s done more’ and ‘who’s messed up more.’ The focus of the relationship is giving to get.

All that emotional math is exhausting. When partners often bring up the relationship scorecard, it can lead to feelings of guilt and bitterness. 

11) Avoiding conflict

Do you fear tough conversations with your partner? Are you the type to put off dealing with issues to a later date or worse, avoid them altogether?

Here’s the kicker: All relationships go through conflicts one way or another. Keeping mum or shutting down may let you keep the peace for some time, but it will only escalate tensions in the long run.

No matter how you sweep those little annoyances and everyday irritations under the rug, they will eventually add up, crop up, and damage the relationship

12) Engaging in passive-aggressive behavior

Here’s what this kind of behavior may look like in a relationship:

  • Acting like nothing is wrong even when it’s obvious that something is
  • Finding petty ways to annoy your partner instead of saying what is upsetting you
  • Giving backhanded compliments
  • Stonewalling
  • A pattern of irresponsibility
  • Repeated overreactions

Simply put: It’s a form of subtle manipulation. Again, the issue is not being able to communicate in a direct, respectful, and empathetic way.

13) Being overly jealous

A little jealousy in relationships is normal. But letting that jealousy take over leads to bad behaviors that can damage the relationship over time.

Do you check your partner’s phone without asking? Are you always curious about who your partner is texting or calling?

Do you often stalk your partner’s social media accounts? Do you often compare your partner (or your relationship) to others?

All of these are signs of insecurity and a lack of trust in the relationship. Instead of engaging in toxic behavior, it’s best to talk to your partner about your feelings and concerns. 

Final thoughts

It’s important to be mindful of the many unhealthy, everyday habits that could be hurting your relationship more than you realize.

The good news is, it’s never too late to correct them. 

Cultivating healthy relationships take time, but with respect, communication, and those tiny good habits, you’ll be able to sustain a happy, healthy relationship for the long term.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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