4 Key Behaviours That Kill Relationships

13 Feb 2024

Relationships are not easy. They require constant effort, communication, and compromise from both partners. However, sometimes we may unknowingly engage in behaviours that can damage or even destroy our relationships.

Here are some of the most common ones and how to avoid them.


Criticism is when we attack our partner’s personality or character, rather than focusing on a specific behaviour or situation. For example, saying “You are so lazy and selfish” instead of “I wish you would help me more with the chores”. Criticism can make our partner feel rejected, hurt, and defensive. It can also erode their self-esteem and confidence.
To avoid criticism, we should use I-statements instead of you-statements. I-statements express how we feel and what we need, without blaming or judging our partner. For example, saying “I feel overwhelmed and stressed when I have to do all the work by myself. I would appreciate it if you could share some of the responsibilities with me”. I-statements can help us communicate our feelings and needs in a respectful and constructive way.


Contempt is when we treat our partner with disrespect, sarcasm, mockery, or ridicule. For example, saying “You are such a joke. You can’t do anything right” or rolling our eyes and sighing when they talk. Contempt can make our partner feel worthless, unloved, and inferior. It can also create a toxic and hostile environment in our relationship.
To avoid contempt, we should show appreciation and express gratitude for our partner. We should acknowledge their positive qualities, efforts, and contributions. We should also say “thank you” and “I love you” often. Showing appreciation and gratitude can help us foster a positive and supportive atmosphere in our relationship.


Defensiveness is when we deny, justify, or make excuses for our behaviour, instead of taking responsibility and apologizing. For example, saying “It’s not my fault. You are the one who always starts the fights” or “I didn’t mean to hurt you. You are just too sensitive”. Defensiveness can make our partner feel unheard, invalidated, and frustrated. It can also prevent us from resolving our conflicts and learning from our mistakes.
To avoid defensiveness, we should listen and empathize with our partner. We should try to understand their perspective and feelings, without interrupting or arguing. We should also admit when we are wrong and say “I’m sorry” and “I will do better”. Listening and empathizing can help us build trust and respect in our relationship.


Stonewalling is when we shut down, withdraw, or ignore our partner, instead of engaging and responding. For example, giving them the silent treatment, walking away, or looking at our phone when they talk. Stonewalling can make our partner feel abandoned, rejected, and hopeless. It can also create a distance and disconnection in our relationship.
To avoid stonewalling, we should stay present and communicate with our partner. We should maintain eye contact, nod, and use verbal and non-verbal cues to show that we are listening and interested. We should also share our thoughts and feelings, and ask questions to clarify and understand. Staying present and communicating can help us stay close and connected in our relationship.

Some other common relationship problems are:

  • Boredom: When the relationship becomes too predictable or routine, it can lose its excitement and spark. To avoid boredom, try to spice things up by doing new things together, such as taking a class, traveling, or exploring a hobby.

  • Money: When partners have different financial goals, values, or habits, it can cause a lot of stress and conflict. To avoid money problems, try to communicate openly and honestly about your finances, budget together, and respect each other’s choices
  • Trust: When partners lie, cheat, or hide things from each other, it can damage the trust and intimacy in the relationship. To avoid trust issues, try to be transparent and faithful to your partner, apologize and forgive when you make mistakes, and work on rebuilding trust together.


These are some of the key behaviours that can kill relationships. By avoiding them and replacing them with healthier and more positive alternatives, we can improve the quality and longevity of our partnerships. Remember, relationships are not perfect, but they can be rewarding and fulfilling if we work on them together. 💕

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