Dangerous relationship habits

Although these practices are heavily romanticised in society, they just might be poisoning your relationship. Take heed of these tips from top relationship experts.

Making your partner your ultimate priority

“Making a partner your first priority before yourself is a ‘spiritual don’t’ because the secret to life is to love another as icing on an already great cake. If you dare to give your power away and make that person more important, you are out of balance in your energy field. You walk a fragile line with yourself, and if anything should happen, or they leave you, or the relationship changes course, then you are a fallen soul with no means to get up. One must love in a healthy way by always making themselves number one in self-care.” – Audrey Hope, celebrity renowned relationship expert.

Trying to save or change someone

“Many times, a person will feel as though they can change or make their spouse their ‘project’ to save or help. Once you stop taking your spouse’s inventory you may feel less resentment and you may feel better about the relationship since the pressure is off you and now is back on the individual’s lap.” – Lisa Bahar, marriage and family therapist.

Moving in together too soon

“People come to me for advice often because they had a whirlwind few dates, and moved in after a few months of dating. Having made that commitment, they then realise, more fully, who the other person is and they’re not happy. Maybe he or she is too close with an ex, has kids that were never mentioned, has debt, is a freeloader, etc. Always wait a year before moving in together – at least. This may seem like a long time if you’re madly in love, but living together and making a long-term relationship last has more to do with compatibility and shared values than it does chemistry.” – April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert and author of four relationship advice books.

Always picking up the tab

“You may think you are being so good and helping them, but in fact, you are not letting them learn to stand on their own two feet. The more you lend them, the more you are making them dependent and discouraging them from becoming self-reliant.” – Elliott Katz, author of Being the Strong Man a Woman Wants: Timeless Wisdom on Being a Man.

Quashing fantasy talk

“Most people buy into the naïve narrative that if your partner shares sexual fantasies that are different than yours (or that may not even include you), then that inherently makes him or her a pervert. Not true. We are all sexual beings, and many of us have healthy imaginations. The bottom line is that fantasising never hurt anyone. Encouraging talk about fantasies can dramatically increase the depth of intimacy in a relationship so that we both feel safe in sharing who we are with one another.” – Steven Ing, MFT, sex columnist, and author of We’re All Like This.


Making too many compromises

“Making compromises always means to take a step back from oneself in order to make the other happy or to make the relationship work. But taking this step backward can mean betraying your own truth, your own desires. It means holding yourself back in going for what you really want. In the end, when both compromise, both will not be fully satisfied with what they agreed upon. Each partner will suffer in his or her own little puddle of mud. So go for what you want, even if it means that you will not spend all the time together.” – Karen Hartmann, an expert at Shoomkloom.

Frankensteining your partner

“Often, someone in a relationship will secretly (or even worse, not-so-secretly) wish their partner had/said/did certain things, all of which are reflected in other people they know. For example: ‘If only you treated me the way our friend treats his wife, and then if you could do things with me the way my ex did, and then if you could call me pet names like my dad does my mum, then I’d be happy.’ This unhelpful ‘Frankenstein’ approach to stitching together the perfect partner – and thus shaming your current partner – undermines the kind of healthy conversation that can lead to positive outcomes.” – Ing.

Comparing your relationship to someone else’s

“I’ve seen countless women think they’re ‘encouraging’ their boyfriend or spouse to be better, do better, look better, etc. – even to the extreme of bringing negative comparisons with someone else. Such well-intended remarks don’t encourage or inspire; they demean and undermine the very trust, encouragement and value in another. Instead, concentrate on a behaviour pattern, like lack of focus or time management, that is getting in the way of the success, health, appearance that you know that person is capable of experiencing. The encouragement of the goodness and potential in them will go much farther and gain greater rewards.” – Maura Sweeney, author, podcaster, international speaker, and trademarked Ambassador of Happiness.


Scaring them straight

“So many couples champion what I call the MAD rules of Mutually Assured Destruction; in other words, ‘If you cheat, it’s SO over.’ This may seem to work, but only because we were so good at instilling fear that they mastered the cover-up. What this does is usually not keep someone faithful, but rather, to make them really, really good at hiding. Proclaiming from the outset that no possible transgression will ever result in forgiveness is a recipe for relationship disaster.” – Ing.

Idealising your partner

“In the beginning, many new couples view their partners through rose-coloured glasses. Though a few extra compliments and some over-idealising are normal, placing your partner on a pedestal can be emotionally dangerous. As soon as your partner falls into becoming an ordinary ‘human’ (flaws and all), you will set yourself up for great disappointment. Also, a partner who is over-idealised may come to expect it and be disappointed – and even angry – if you don’t maintain the facade.” – Elaine Zukerman, author of relationship self-help books, certified life coach and psychology professor.

Sharing everything about your relationship on social media

“Your relationship is part of your personal life, so it should be staying personal and private to you. If you share every moment of your relationship on your Facebook or Instagram page, you are leaving nothing sacred between the two of you. Think about stepping it back a bit if this is one of your habits.” – Samantha Daniels, owner of the matchmaking service, Samantha’s Table, former divorce attorney, and founder of The Dating Lounge.

Playing games

“Some couples play mild psychological games of being ‘unavailable’ and ‘hard-to-get’ in the beginning to instil intrigue and higher desirability. Though this may work in the short term, once the relationship is more established it can be dangerous to the future of the relationship. Learn to improve your confidence and communication by setting bottom line boundaries.” – Zukerman.

Never fighting

“Avoiding conflict leads to bitterness and resentment in the long-term. This leads to significant problems in the relationship because we cannot fix a problem we don’t know exists. Bringing up issues also demonstrates trust in our partner and the relationship. Avoiding an argument may be well-intended, but it is rarely beneficial. On the other hand, relational research suggests that assertiveness is a powerful predictor of relationship satisfaction and effective problem-solving.” – Jim Seibold, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.