Mindless Habits That Hurt Our Relationships and How to Fix Them
We all sometimes have problems in our relationships. That is normal, and it is part of what makes our relationships rewarding and meaningful. It is precisely because they take work, require us to grow and develop as human beings, and challenge us to expand our emotional boundaries that relationships are so wonderful.
Relationships need to be worked on in order to remain healthy and happy, but sometimes we forget that. We think that because things have been going just fine they will continue to do so forever, without any effort or any changes on our part. But that is almost never the case.
The truth is that relationships are just as complex as the people in them. Two people who are as close as they think any two people can be, may sometimes not really know or understand how the other person is thinking and feeling, or what the other person needs in order to be fulfilled and happy.
We tend to get into ruts in our relationships. This can lead to mindless bad habits that we may not even realize we have. These bad habits can do some serious harm to our relationships and eventually even destroy them if we don’t do something about them.
Read through the list below and see if you have been recently guilty of any of these bad habits in your own relationships. I know that I have fallen into more than a handful of these mindless habits from time to time, and the best thing that I did each time was to become aware and mindful of them so that I could develop better habits instead.
Here is a list of mindless habits that can destroy relationships along with some suggestions on what should be done to fix them.
Taking our partner for granted
The tricky part about this particular mindless habit is that even if we really don’t think we are guilty of it, our partner may still feel taken for granted. Sometimes it isn’t just about what we are actually doing, but about how what we are doing has been perceived by others.
To try to eliminate this mindless habit, make an effort to show your partner your appreciation. It can be as small as just making it a point to say thank you, to wish them good morning, to kiss them goodbye, or to just smile at them more often.
But beyond making these gestures, it is also good to do a sanity check once in a while. Remember, sometimes it is more about perception than reality when it comes to feeling taken for granted. Take the time to actually tell your partner that you really appreciate them and then ask if they know that. If they don’t, ask them what has happened that has made them feel taken for granted and what you could do to make your appreciation more apparent.
Forgetting to pay compliments
This habit goes hand-in-hand with taking the other person for granted. Typically early on in our relationships we pay better attention and notice more of the great qualities in our partners. After all, those are a big part of what attracted us to them in the first place. And we usually are pretty free with our compliments, letting our partners know how great we think they are.
But as time goes by, we get complacent and start forgetting to mention all those great talents and qualities that we love about them. It isn’t that we appreciate them any less; we just start to get used to them and forget how unique and awesome they are.
Take mental stock of the times that you pay your partner a compliment. Don’t force the compliments, just remember to tell them every time that you really appreciate them or something that they did. Small acts of appreciation, like paying occasional compliments, will go a long way to keeping your relationships healthy and happy.
Not speaking our mind
This mindless habit can take a variety of forms. It can be that we don’t bring up something that is bothering us. It could also be that we are not speaking up and making our opinion heard when a decision is being made. Or it could be that we choose to agree with what our partners think, say or do when we really don’t.
We may do this because we think that giving in is good for the relationship because we are sacrificing our wants or needs in an effort to please the other person. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A good relationship requires both parties to be happy. Giving in on things that are not important to you is not a big deal; they are not important anyway. But if you find that more often than not you are giving in at the expense of your own happiness, then you are doing some real damage to your relationship.
Realize that it is important for the health of the relationship that you be heard as well. Learn how to voice your thoughts, opinions, and even your wants and wishes at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner. That way they will be well received and both of you will benefit from it.
Not sharing the blame
It can be really easy to point out where someone else has done wrong or caused a problem. It is usually a lot harder to own up to how we have ourselves contributed to that negative situation. As the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap, so try not to just point a finger when things go wrong.
The next time you have a problem or disagreement in your relationship, try your best to not become defensive. Try to look at the situation from your partner’s point of view. See if there is anything that you could have done differently that would have prevented the situation from escalating. If there is, let your partner know about it; it will go a long way to making them know that you are not placing all the blame on them.
Not participating fully in conversations
This is probably one of the most common mindless habits: not being fully present when having a conversation with our partners. In fact, not being fully present in any activity that we participate in with our partners can harm our relationships.
If we are with someone who matters and is important to us, we should let them know that by giving them our full attention when we are together. Being fully present benefits both us and our partners. We also benefit because we get to develop a deeper relationship every time that we devote our time and attention to it.
If you find that you are distracted the next time that your partner wants to have a conversation, stop what you are doing and eliminate the distraction. If you find that it is just not a good time for a discussion because you have something that is really pressing that needs to get done, then let your partner know that.
Tell them that because you want to be able to give them your full attention, that you would prefer to have the conversation at a later time. Commit to having it twenty minutes, one hour, or even one day later, whatever you need to be able to give it your undivided attention. Then stick to the schedule; don’t postpone it again because that will appear insincere and disrespectful.
Getting easily irritated
We are all human and we all make mistakes. But sometimes it is easy to forget that, specially when it comes to those people that we spend the most time with. Think about it: the more time we spend with someone, the more opportunities there will be for that person to do something to irritate us.
The next time you find yourself getting irritated, ask yourself if you are maybe being too sensitive. Did you perhaps have a bad day earlier and then let your bad mood get the better of you? Are you getting worked up over something that normally wouldn’t bother you? If the situation were reversed, would your partner get as annoyed with you as you are getting with them right now?
If you determine that you are overreacting, the best and quickest way to remedy the situation is to think about something great that your partner did for you and for which you are thankful. By appreciating your partner’s good deeds it will be easy to overlook the smaller nuisances that are part of any relationship.
Complaining to others about our partners
We all feel the need to vent sometimes. Sometimes it feels really good to pick up the phone and just rattle off everything that just happened that really got on our nerves. It can be like mental hygiene to let it all out to a third party. But that can be dangerous when we find ourselves rattling off about something that our partners did. Not only is there a potential that it will get back to them, but depending on what we say and to whom, it can do some serious damage to the relationships between our partners and our friends and family.
The next time you feel like picking up that phone, stop yourself in your tracks. Take a deep breath and think about the potential harm that could come from what you are about to do. Even if the chance for real harm is small, consider how you would feel if the situation were reversed. If your partner had a problem with or a complaint about you, wouldn’t you want them to come to you directly and discuss it? Or would you rather they aired out your dirty laundry to any and all who will listen?
It is true that good relationships are about give and take. Being willing to give of yourself to another while expecting nothing in return is one of the qualities that makes human relationships beautiful. And while there should be some sort of balance where neither person is always doing the giving, and never any of the taking, the reality is that a healthy relationship is not a zero sum game.
There will be days, if not weeks or months, when you will find yourself being the primary giver. When that happens, don’t keep score. Instead, try to be grateful that you had the opportunity and ability to be there for your partner when you were needed. Realize that your partner would have done the same for you had the situation been reversed. And that one day you may be the one who needs to ask for support and assistance.
But when that day comes, don’t look at it as your turn to get even. Each time that one of you needs to rely on the other is a completely separate event, and should be looked at as an opportunity to manifest your love for each other.
Trying to change our partners
Nobody is perfect, we all know that. Yet sometimes we all wish that our partners could be a little less imperfect, right? There is nothing wrong with encouraging them to improve by developing new habits, working harder, becoming healthier, and generally doing things that will make them happier. However, there is a big difference between encouraging and expecting. And there is an even bigger difference when we are hoping the other person will change for our own benefit rather than their own.
When you find yourself wishing that your partner were different in some way, determine first whether that wish is primarily for your own benefit or happiness. Remember, they were like this when you met them; if they were great then, why aren’t they so great now?
Comparing our partners to someone else
Along with sometimes wishing that we could change our partners, we may also sometimes be guilty of comparing them to someone else. We may compare them to a previous relationship, or to our best friend’s partner, or to just about anybody.
Whether we vocalize the comparison or not, it isn’t fair and it won’t be good for our relationship. Think about it: how would you feel if you knew that your partner was comparing you to somebody else? Just like it would hurt your feelings, it would definitely hurt theirs if they found out what you were doing.
If you catch yourself making mental (or even worse vocal) comparisons between your partner and someone else, remember that you were attracted to them and chose them for a reason. There is something about them that is truly special and amazing, and those are hopefully qualities that you haven’t found in anyone else. Make it a point to really appreciate your partner for who they really are and exactly as they are.