Here at Evergreen Counseling, our couples therapists on staff have been known to advise individuals and couples that we see to STOP doing these 11 habits in order to improve their relationship because, yes, absolutely it’s possible to “go overboard” in a relationship and set up unhealthy or unfulfilling patterns.
For instance, if someone is bending over backwards to try to please their partner, win their approval, or even to prove that they love them, this may be symptomatic of larger underlying issues in the relationship such as uneven power distributions, lack of security in the love, or a low sense of self worth in one or both of the partners.
Healthy relationships are, at their best, relatively equal (though always fluctuating in the how and when of this equality) in terms of the time, affection, and favors given to one another.
An extremely lopsided “overboarding” of favors or goodwill, as counterintuitive as it seems, may lead to resentment or an imbalance of power and goodwill in the relationship and ultimately prove to be damaging.
So with that said, here are 11 things you might want to consider stopping in order to improve your relationship:
- Stop having sex when you’re not in the mood.
- Stop spending holidays or special events with your partner’s family if it hurts you in any way.
- Stop “picking up all the slack” in the relationship whether it’s chores, planning, etc.
- Stop trying to anticipate your partner’s needs and wants all the time.
- Stop going out of your way when you’re too tired/crabby/unwell/don’t feel like it.
- Stop saying things are “fine” when they’re not.
- Stop paying for more than your fair share unless you’re completely okay with that.
- Stop spending your weekends and evenings in the way your partner only wants to spend them.
- Stop only eating at the restaurants or cooking the meals only your partner likes.
- Stop primarily or only hanging out with your partner’s friends.
- Stop deferring to your partner around decision making with the phrase, “whatever you want.”
The major underlying thread here across all 11 habits is that when you stop each of these behaviors, you start honoring your own needs, wants, and personal boundaries and being mindful about not crossing them in order to “please” your partner.
This — honoring your own boundaries — is critical for both people in healthy, functional relationship.
Now, of course, this is not to say that some of these habits aren’t appropriate some of the times.
For instance, on our partner’s birthday, it makes total sense to let them pick their birthday dinner restaurant! Relationships are a constant give and take, a dynamic sharing of prioritizing each other’s needs and wants.
The trouble begins when you find yourself habitually prioritizing the other person’s needs and wants (as illustrated through the behaviors above) as this can actually set up unhealthy dynamics in the relationship.
At the end of the day, we are all novices when it comes to love and long-term romantic relationships.
So if you see yourself in this list and see some behaviors or habits you may need to explore, be easy on yourself! No one hands us a guidebook on how to have healthy, functional relationships.
But if you would like some personalized, compassionate and highly skilled support in this arena, please feel free to reach out to us at Evergreen. We would love to support you.