No person and no relationship is perfect, but it doesn’t mean that couples should just let each other’s problematic behavior slide. When they choose to ignore it, they might find themselves drifting apart on an emotional level which can deeply affect their partnership.
“Certain relationship behaviors are common and manageable when they occur infrequently. But when they become habitual, they can go from irritating to damaging in terms of relationship satisfaction and longevity,” writes Guy Winch, a licensed psychologist and author, in his column for Psychology Today.
3 problematic habits that can damage a relationship
More often than not, the person who is exhibiting problematic behavior may not even know that it is becoming a habit and is unaware of the damage they are causing their relationship. Worse, they might think it is their partner’s fault for becoming “emotionally unavailable.”
Here are three common habits you’re unaware you’re doing and that might be pushing your partner away:
1. You criticize too much.
According to John Gottman, psychologist, relationship expert, and founder of The Gottman Institute, criticism is one of the top predictors of divorce and can corrode the foundation of a relationship. That’s because it’s much easier to tell your partner that they’re the ones at fault, instead of asking for help and acknowledging that your needs are not being met.
“When one member of the couple constantly voices small (and not-so-small) dissatisfactions and complaints, it can be completely demoralizing for the other, who then begins to feel as though they can do nothing right,” Winch shares.
If you catch yourself being overly critical, try a softer approach. “Think of how you would make a behavior request to someone you admire and respect,” shares psychologist Steven Stosny in an interview with HuffPost. “That’s how you should make behavior requests of your partner.”
2. You ignore important complaints.
Too many complaints can be damaging to a relationship, but so is ignoring the meaningful ones, especially when they are brought up by your partner repeatedly. This will make your partner feel dismissed and neglected.
According to Winch, one of the most common examples is a partner voicing their concern over a lack of intimacy or feeling sexually unsatisfied. As it’s a sensitive topic, they might only say it so many times before feeling rejected and too hurt to try again, says Winch. You might not know it, but you may be killing your relationship silently this way.
The only way to address these meaningful complaints is to have an open line of communication with your partner. Try and meet your partner’s needs outside the bedroom. The more you make your partner feel special and loved, the more your partner will want you under the sheets, says results from a 2016 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“Sexual desire thrives on increasing intimacy and being responsive is one of the best ways to instill this elusive sensation over time; better than any pyrotechnic sex,” says lead author Gurit E. Birnbaum, Ph.D.
3. You spend too much time on your phone.
This is a common dilemma faced by couples in our Facebook group, Smart Parenting Village. Their partners might be too engrossed with online games or they may be addicted to social media and these can cause a rift in relationships.
“When phones are continually looked at or used during dinner, while watching shows together, in the middle of conversations, and yes, even during intimate moments, it can have a dramatic effect on the mood, happiness, and relationship satisfaction of your partner,” writes Winch.
When spending quality time as a couple, make an effort to keep yourselves unplugged. Switch your phones to silent mode and engage in intimate conversations. Invest in date nights — it can help your relationship grow stronger and foster a deeper emotional connection.
An expert says having a strong sexual desire for your partner is a choice. Click here for ways to fuel that sexual connection.