Most men and women are brought up in a way that treats each other as property. And for most of us, mum and dad were certainly not the best examples.
Many studies of healthy and happy relationships have helped to discover some general principles that most people don’t know about or don’t follow. In fact, some of these principles go against what is traditionally considered ‘romantic’ or normal in relationships.
Here are six of the most common relationship tendencies that many couples think are healthy and normal, but are actually toxic and destructive to everything you hold dear.
You keep count of past mistakes
The phenomenon of “scoring” is when you keep count of your man’s past mistakes. You go on and on blaming him.
If both people in the relationship do this, it becomes a battle to see who has made the most mistakes in those months or years, and therefore who owes the other more.
You try with all your might to prove that you were right, even though you weren’t.
Why is this a toxic habit for a relationship? When you keep count of his previous mistakes, you use them to try to justify being right. Not only are you deflecting the current problem itself, but you’re also accumulating guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate your partner into feeling wrong in the present.
If this goes on long enough, both partners spend a lot of energy trying to prove that they are less guilty than the other, instead of solving the current problem.
What you should do instead: solve problems individually. If a man often lies to you, it’s obviously a recurring problem. But the fact that he lied to you sometime in 2015 and you still resent him has nothing to do with the two of you present.
You have to accept that by choosing to be with your significant other, you are choosing to be with all his previous actions and behaviour. If something was bothering you so much a year ago, you should have dealt with it a year ago.
You blame your partner for your negative emotions
What it is: Let’s say you have had a terrible day and your partner is not very sympathetic or supportive at the moment. He has been negotiating at work all day. You want to lie at home together and just watch a film. But he has other plans tonight – to see friends.
So you attack him for being so insensitive to you.
But you’re the one having a bad day, and he didn’t do anything about it. And you think he should abandon his plans based on your bad emotional state.
Why is that toxic? Blaming your partner for your emotions is a subtle form of selfishness and a classic example of poor personal boundary maintenance. When you set the precedent that your partner is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice versa), you will develop codependent tendencies.
So he can no longer plan his actions without consulting you. All household activities, even those as mundane as reading a book or watching TV, must be coordinated. When someone becomes frustrated, all personal desires should be overridden, because it is now your responsibility to make each other feel better.
Instead, you should take responsibility for your emotions and expect your partner to take responsibility for theirs. There is a subtle but important difference between supporting your partner and committing to them.
Any sacrifices should be made as an independent choice, not as an expectation. Once both people in a relationship become guilty of each other’s moods, it gives them both an incentive to hide their true feelings and manipulate each other.
You pay off with something material instead of solving the problem
What is it: every time there is a serious conflict or problem in a relationship, instead of solving it, the person covers up with a surprise. Why is this toxic? It not only hides the real problem in a distant drawer of the table, it also sets an unhealthy precedent in the relationship.
Let’s imagine that whenever a woman is angry with her husband, he “solves” the problem by buying the woman something nice or taking her to a nice restaurant or something. Not only does this give the woman an unconscious incentive to find more reasons to be unhappy with the man, but it also gives the man absolutely no incentive to actually take responsibility for the problems in the relationship.
What should you do instead? Actually, you know: deal with the problem. Has trust been broken? Talk about what it will take to restore it. Is someone feeling ignored or unappreciated? Talk about how to restore those feelings of gratitude. Communicate!
There’s nothing wrong with doing nice things for a significant other after an argument to show solidarity and reaffirm commitment. But gifts should never be used as a solution. If you use them to hide your problems, you will face a much bigger problem in the future.