At the very beginning of a new relationship, it’s not uncommon for people to be on their best behavior, so to speak, and to be overly conscientious and hide any characteristics that they view as flaws. As time goes on, however, people tend to sort of revert back to how they really are. They get more comfortable in the relationship, perhaps, and start to show people their personality, bad habits and all.
There are some relationship behaviors, however, that experts say you need to quit doing because they can cause real harm in your relationship.
Although not all not-so-great relationship behaviors or habits will result in an immediately-damaging effect, they can take a toll over time. INSIDER spoke with some experts to learn what you should stop doing in your relationship right away so that you can have better, healthier, longer-lasting relationships overall.
Stop nagging them or being overly-critical.
It can be tempting to gripe about missed opportunities, neglected responsibilities, or broken promises, but if you cross the line from helpful reminders to nagging or all-out criticism of your partner, you might need to reevaluate, especially if you notice that you’re doing it more and more.
“[W]hen we’re in that space, we’re just in a space of all sorts of negativity,” Shirani M. Pathak, licensed psychotherapist and the founder of the Center for Soulful Relationships told INSIDER. “There’s no room for any love or romance to flourish because we’re constantly looking at what is lacking in our relationship as opposed to focusing on what is going well and what is flourishing. It’s like putting a plant in a dark closet instead of outside where the sun and the rain are.”
That’s definitely not what you intended to do — and can really wear your partner down after awhile. They might get frustrated, sure, but they also might start to feel like they’re constantly walking on eggshells. No one wants to live like that.
Stop expecting that they just know what you’re thinking.
You know all about that couple that claims they can finish each other’s sentences, they’re always so in sync (OK, maybe that’s a couple from a movie), but in real life, you can’t expect that your partner will always know what you’re thinking or what you need without ever vocalizing things.
“People are often afraid to ask for what they need in a specific situation,” Lauren Gentile, PhD, a psychologist, told INSIDER. “They come to their partner looking for something specific and then get frustrated when that is not what they get from them.”
If you don’t tell them what you want or need, not only do they not necessarily know what it is that you want or need, but you take away an opportunity to let them give it to you, Gentile explained. You’re on the same team when you’re in a relationship, but they can’t help if you don’t let them.
Stop letting distractions get in the way when you’re together.
“Quality time isn’t really quality time if you’re not connecting,” Rebekah Montgomery, PhD, a clinical psychologist and relationship expert, told INSIDER. “This is a frequent contributor to getting in a rut, routine, or feeling bored or disconnected in your relationship. Research has shown that recent generations are having less sex than past generations when they were the same age. Technology is a big part of this.”
It can be difficult to put down the phone, shut off the computer, or even give the TV a night off every so often, especially if those things are part of your regular routine — and for many people, they are. But taking time away from distractions to spend time with your partner will strengthen your relationship. Plus, you’ll actually get to enjoy their company, rather than competing with something else for their attention.