Relationship Advice

The 4 habits that are sabotaging your relationship (and how to change them!)

Always blaming your partner for your relationship woes? It might be time to rewire your thinking...

By Bonnie Vaughan

Could you be wrecking your love-life without even knowing it? If you're having problems in your relationship, you probably think it's all your partner's fault. But it might be worth looking at your own behaviour in case there's some self-sabotaging at play.

Here, relationship experts reveal some common habits that can develop that may be damaging your partnership and how to break them.

Trying to change your partner

You adored his ambition and drive when you first met him, but now you're always telling him not to work so hard. Or you were attracted to his quiet confidence and the way he felt comfortable in his own skin, but now you urge him to be more outgoing at parties.

Or maybe you were thrilled he was super sociable and had a really fun circle of friends, but now you want him to stay in more.

"I see people do this all the time," says psychologist Jo Lamble, author of Answers To Everyday Questions About Relationships.

"They tend to change the goalposts, and their partner says, 'I don't get it. You knew this was what I was like and now you're asking me to be different.'"

Do this instead:

"Remember what you were attracted to in the first place," says Lamble.

"You did love that side of him. You should also remember that you're not two halves of one whole – you're two individuals who are choosing to be together."

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Taking your partner for granted

You feel pretty secure in your relationship so you're in cruise mode. You don't really make an effort to sit down and talk when he gets home from work – in fact, you're both too busy checking your Facebook status or watching TV to factor in any quality face time. Before long it seems as though you might as well just be flatmates.

"Leaving your relationship to take care of itself can lead to feelings of resentment, decreased self-esteem and lack of relationship satisfaction, where neither of you feels appreciated or valued," warns relationship and body language expert Katia Loisel.

Do this instead:

Acknowledge your partner, stay curious about him and celebrate his achievements. "Thank him for the time, energy and eff ort he puts into everyday tasks, such as taking out the recycling or fixing that leaky tap," says Loisel.

"It's one of the simplest yet most romantic gestures."

Bottling up your emotions

You might think that avoiding arguments or confrontations is the key to a happy relationship but in fact the opposite is true.

"If you shut down when your partner does something that bothers you because you don't want to rock the boat, you are doing yourself and your relationship a real disservice by not communicating honestly," says Loisel.

"Suppressing your true feelings through lack of communication can build resentment and friction and can lead to an emotional and physical gulf between you."

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Do this instead:

"Trust that your partner cares enough about you to acknowledge your point of view, your wants and your needs, and vice versa. Communicating openly, honestly and without blame allows you and your partner to express your feelings, get your issues out and to develop a deeper bond."

Keeping score

Whenever you have an argument, you bring up something hurtful he did in the past.

"It's like you're holding a little fistful of trump cards," says Lamble, "and those cards may be something huge, like an affair, or something small, like forgetting your anniversary. Then no matter what you're arguing about, you pull out that trump card and say, 'Well I'm still not over that' – and you win the argument because nothing you have or haven't done is as bad as what they did a week, six months or 20 years ago. That's really unfair."

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Do this instead:

Rip up the trump cards.

"If your partner has apologised for his mistake and you've made an informed decision to stay with him, it's time to leave it in the past. Focus on today and resolve the things that happen in the here and now." If you really can't move on, however, Lamble suggests it may be a sign you need couples counselling to help resolve the issue

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