90 Ways People Trash Their Relationships

Linda & Charlie Bloom
7 min readMar 5, 2023

Linda: It’s hard to admit the awful things we do and say and don’t do and don’t say that cause harm to those we love. All those unskillful choices boomerang back to cause suffering to us as well. If any of these bloopers listed below are ones that you resort to when you are hurt, frightened, frustrated and angry, please catch yourself red-handed. Then you can be more careful to pause and reflect before continuing to indulge in such destructive communications. These are offered as an inventory to see the ways you may be holding down the well-being of your relationship, so that you can enjoy your partnership to the max.

1. Indulging in issuing your judgments

2. Taking an attitude that your partner is the enemy that must be defeated

3. Insisting that you’re right

4. Making agreements that you break

5. Grabbing power

6. Issuing insults

7. Raising your voice

8. Having a hard edge with a quiet voice

9. Indulging in criticizing

10. Keeping secrets

11. Telling lies

12. Insisting on continuing a discussion when they have asked for a break

13. Bringing out the big guns by threatening divorce or separation

14. Violating confidentiality by revealing private information you know they don’t want you to gossip about.

15. Using vulnerable information, you are privileged to have to throw out to them to gain an advantage

16. Agreeing to things you have no intention to follow through on just to end the uncomfortable argument

17. Strengthening your position by saying “Our friends agree with me”

18. Refusing to get vulnerable by covering fear and hurt by exclusively using expressions of anger

19. Stubbornly refusing to apologize even when you know you are responsible

20. Stubbornly refusing to accept their apology even though they are sincerely remorseful for what they did

21. Launch into your concerns before you have agreement from your partner that they are ready to discuss it

22. Bringing up an issue at an inopportune time such as late at night when you’re tired or in the morning when you’re rushing off to work

23. Bring up a crucial issue when you need your concentration to drive your car

24. Making up your mind that you know where the conversation is going before you give your partner a chance to speak their peace

25. Impatience

26. Interrupting

27. Using a tone of voice that is loud and accusatory can be worse than the words used

28. Entitlement: The attitude of “you owe me”

29. Poor listening because you are planning what you’re going to say next and not paying close attention

30. Not paying attention to what they are saying because you are preoccupied by other tasks

31. When your partner expresses a complaint, you’re defensive and say “you do it too”

32. Bringing up issues from long ago to strengthen your case rather than staying focused on the present

33. Unflattering comparisons such as “you’re just like your mother” or “you’re just like your father” or “you’re just like my ex”

34. Other women/men I know do it this way

35. Insults

36. Name calling

37. Threats and ultimatums

38. Stonewalling which is refusing to engage at all. It’s also known as the freeze out or the violence of silence.

39. Statements that begin with “You” are most frequently judgments that get the conversation off on the wrong foot

40. Disguising accusations as questions: “How can you possibly think that?” “How could you make such a stupid decision?”

41. Saying “You always”

42. Saying “You never”

43. A kitchen sink fight: bringing up many issues and throwing them all in a big pile so that the original issue gets lost

44. Yelling tends to put the other person on the defensive even if you’re right

45. Ducking out of responsibility by saying “I was only kidding; why can’t you take a joke?”

46. Vindictiveness and revenge are punishments that always hurt the one dishing it out as well

47. Defaming their character to family and friends

48. Sticking with logic when they want their feelings to be understood

49. Denying you made a mistake when you know it

50. Leaving it to your partner to extend the overtures to make up after a disagreement

51. Not being willing to accept that there are some issues that never get resolved, so you persist in attempting to convert their view to yours

52. Wimping out about bringing up important issues by withholding truths that need to be discussed even though there will be discomfort

53. Blurting things out without taking the time to reflect on how those words will land on your partner

54. Telling your partner “It’s too late to bring it up now” because the incident that is incomplete for them happened days, weeks, months or even years ago

55. Taking the moral high ground by striking an attitude of superiority and righteousness

56. Saying “That’s your problem”

57. Justifying using words as weapons

58. Pretending that you aren’t hurt or afraid when you are

59. Lowering expectations so far down that you are settling for living in chronic resentment

60. Speaking from your mind that is full of judgments and opinions rather than from your experience where your feelings are located (especially the vulnerable ones)

61. Confessing your partner’s sins (such as weakness, selfishness, coldness, obstinacy, anger and aggression)

62. Not paying attention because you assume you already know what they are talking about

63. Using a break to prepare a better defense rather than calm down and find creative solutions

64. Being stingy with your words of affirmation, acts of service, touch, gifts and spending quality time together

65. The attitude of “I’ll be damned if I’ll give in” precludes finding creative solutions

66. Forgetting, while we are busy protecting ourselves, that even while angry, appreciation and gratitude for our partner is only a thought away

67. When you live with an attitude of grievance, you only have receptors to perceive their faults. You view your partner though fault-finding eyes

68. Making being right a higher priority than having harmony in the relationship

69. Neglecting to ask the most important question: “How may I best love you?”

70. Then neglecting to act on what’s revealed

71. No longer going on romantic getaways and honeymoons

72. Allowing other commitments (kids, work, etc.) to get in the way of enjoying frequent lovemaking sessions

73. Neglecting the opportunity to have non-sexual touch

74. Drifting into boring sexual encounters rather than risking novelty and adventure within the partnership

75. Rushing to solution when what your partner wants is to be heard by you with empathy and compassion

76. Neglecting to show love to your partner by showing tolerance, acceptance, and care to those family members and friends who are important to them

77. Not keeping the relationship balanced in giving and receiving

78. Forgetting to commemorate birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and wedding anniversaries

79. Saying “You’re making a mountain out of a molehill” trivializes their concern

80. Placing allegiance with your family of origin rather than with our spouse is what causes the “in-law issues”

81. You may feel that you want to “shoot the messenger” when they bring you difficult truth, but you cheat yourself if you are closed to listening to their concerns

82. If you find yourself frequently saying “I just forgot” search for passive aggression

83. Violating someone’s clearly drawn boundaries

84. Changing the subject to distract from the original topic

85. Giving unsolicited advice

86. Not being willing to let go of the past

87. Embarrassing your partner in front of other people

88. Not taking good care of yourself so that you don’t bring your best possible self to the partnership

89. Using any touch that is less than respectful, caring, affectionate and loving

90. Neglecting to express appreciation and gratitude on a regular basis with the specifics of what you are grateful for

Don’t be limited by these popular unskillful choices. By taking a fearless inventory of behaviors that we engage in that damage our relationship and make a commitment to change, we are well on our way to creating a delightful partnership. This is the way we “clean up our act”. When we do an honest assessment of the small, petty, manipulative behaviors that we indulge in, and begin to tell the truth about them, we get the big chance to change.

Poor choices give way to effective ones. It is a major turning point to move out of the disempowered victim position to a position of sharing power with our partner. The relationship that had been characterized by fear driven habituated patterns (that may have been in the family for generations) can come to a close. Over time, in their place, healthy, wholesome patterns of relating emerge that are characterized by the purest form of love.

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Linda & Charlie Bloom

Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW, married since 1972, are experts in the field of relationships and have published four successful books. bloomwork.com