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You may be sabotaging your relationships by how you are showing up and how you are creating your relationship space. Here are some toxic relationship habits you need to stop:

Stop losing yourself and your identity in your relationships.

Many women, when they get in to a relationship make their partner their universe and focus. They take care of their partner’s needs and the relationship with very little thought for themselves. Over time they give up their friends, stop doing things they used to do (e.g. sport, hobbies and interests) and become completely dependent on their partner for their happiness and needs. They lose their sense of self and their individuality. While you are a couple and should be doing things together to build your relationship and create an “us, we and ours”, it’s equally important to retain your individuality and relationship with self. Your partner cannot fulfil your every need and expecting them to only want to be with you 24/7 is unrealistic and unsustainable. It’s ok to have some “me” time and it’s ok to take a solo holiday with the girls/boys to recharge yourself and your relationship – provided you respect the boundaries of your relationship and you partners of course.

Keeping score

Keeping score as to who is right and who is wrong all the time just gets you stuck in the blame game with very little room to move forward in your relationship. It’s important to be able to resolve conflict in a respectful way where both parties feel heard, acknowledged and able to find a middle ground. When you’re constantly trying to justify your thoughts, actions and behavior, it is emotionally draining and will result in a toxic spiral to divorce/break-up.

Expectations

Having high expectations, expecting our partners to read our mind or dropping hints instead our outright communicating where you’re at will only lead to frustration on both sides. If we have too high expectations, no one will ever match up to them – rather have realistic expectations that way you won’t constantly feel let down or disappointed when your partner does not attain your expectations.  We are not mind readers and we do not do well at catching hints that are dripping with sarcasm – instead it just gets our back up and we end up becoming defensive and reactive. Communication is key in every relationship so rather focus your energy on developing your communication skills which will ensure you feel more connected and it goes a long way to building the intimacy.

Stop comparing your-self/your relationship

As human beings have evolved, it has brought with it a sense of drive to constantly improve ourselves and our lifestyles. As a result of these inner ambitions, we constantly compare ourselves to others that we relate to and identify with to want, have, do and be more. Social media plays a huge role in today’s world where we live our lives through other people’s posts and what they are sharing. Of course this is unrealistic as many people only post the good things happening in their lives and very rarely when they are going through a tough time. This leaves us feeling unhappy about our present achievements and fulfilled ambitions as we often compare ourselves with someone who we perceive as being, having, or doing more than we are.

Comparing ourselves to others can happen in many ways such as our financial, emotional, social, or intellectual status. It can keep us unhappy about our own lives and lead to a sense of low self-worth, low self-esteem and much more. Comparing ourselves and our relationships with others shifts our focus away from the positive aspects of our own life, the risk being that we can become competitive, trying to ‘keep up with the Jonses’, demotivated and feeling like our life has no purpose. It also puts our partner in a place where we may have unrealistic expectations of them which will be seemingly impossible for them to live up to and this is unfair.

Every person, couple and relationship is unique so you are doing yourself a great injustice to compare any of the elements mentioned above to others. By comparing, we set unrealistic expectations for our relationships and our partners which often leaves us feeling disappointed and let down. It also keeps us focusing on the things our partner is not doing vs. all the things they are doing which we are potentially overlooking. This can lead us into a toxic space where we can become critical, fault-finding, blaming and shaming which can ultimately destroy what once was.

Focus on what is unique about your partner, what attracted you to them in the first place, identify the many different ways they show their love and appreciation for you, what are the things you do together that keeps you bonded, how are you evolving and growing together as a couple. If you are comparing your relationship to others ask yourself why, what is it that you feel is missing in your own relationship and what can you do to change this. Communication is key and it helps build the connection between the two of you. Focus your energy and attention inwards instead of outwards so that together you can create your version of what your ideal relationship should be like instead of comparing it to others who are not even walking the same path as you are.

Stop settling

Many single people constantly ask “where do they go to meet other single people”? They’ve moved on from the pub and club scene and have tried various online dating platforms with little success. That’s not to say that online dating platforms don’t work, there are many success stories that bear testimony to their success. Rather it’s a case of single people coming across as desperate and settle into a relationship for all the wrong reasons or end up going back to their Ex.

There’s an age old saying “you broke up for a reason” and that reason will still be there should you decide to get back together. So if you do decide to get back with your Ex, understand the reasons why you are getting back together – is it because you both genuinely want to work on the relationship to resolve past issues and move forward together, is it because you are feeling lonely and going back to the familiar is better than being alone, you can’t bear the thought of your Ex being with someone else or you cannot accept the breakup and that person has moved on? Often we struggle more with accepting that that person is no longer a part of our life and we end up doubting or questioning our decision to break up in the first place.

It’s not a good idea to get back with your Ex when the relationship has been abusive in any way (i.e. physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally etc). Your personal safety and wellbeing comes first and in this case you are better off not being in a relationship of this nature. In some instances couples make mistakes and they don’t know how to work through situations they find themselves in, often resorting to breaking up as a way to try and cope with what they are experiencing (e.g constantly fighting over the same issues, jealousy, insecurities, cheating etc). In some instances these challenges can be overcome e.g. learning to communicate better with each other, going to couples therapy, resolving conflict in a mature way, making your relationship a priority, working together towards the same couples/relationship goals etc. In other instances the damage may just be too much to rekindle the romance e.g. cheating.

Social Media

Stop living your relationship on social media. Yes it’s cute to constantly post pics of the two of you at every opportunity of the day but it’s also not real. We only post the good things that we want everyone to see but life is not one constant high. Life consists of both ups and downs and there are times when things don’t go our way, when you will disagree and not have the same likes. Instead invest your time and energy on your relationship and your partner, spend quality time together without the distraction of social media, do things together, plan couples goals, talk about stuff that matters to the two of you, and not what the rest of the world is doing. Your relationship is between the two of you not 6billion people – some things are not meant to be shared on social media.

Paula Quinsee is a Relationship Expert, Tedx speaker and author of self-help guides ‘Embracing Conflict’ and ‘Embracing No’. Paula works with individuals and organisations to cultivate healthy relationships in both their personal and professional arenas by focusing on emotional skills and personal growth and development. She regularly appears in the media and consulted to ‘Married at First Sight SA’ TV show.

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