8 Habits that Can Destroy Your Relationship

Padma Ali, LMFT, CPCC
10 min readNov 2, 2020

I’ve noticed that there are certain patterns in communication. The patterns cause a breakdown in communication and create a disconnect in the relationship. These patterns become habits that can destroy your relationship. They come from beliefs or stories that we’ve told ourselves from our past relationships and they can also be connected to environmental cues. For instance, if you’ve had a bad experience at a certain location, the next time you think about that place, you’ll be flooded with memories of how bad that experience was and you’re likely not going to want to go there again. These beliefs and the environmental cues end up triggering something within you.

Let’s dive right into the first habit that can destroy your relationship.

Questioning Your Partner’s Love and Commitment

Have you noticed that when you question your partner’s love and commitment to you it’s nothing but insecurity?

Insecurities are a very unattractive thing in a relationship, aren’t they?

You know when you’re insecure and you’re worrying about your partner’s love for you, it’s not really you. It’s something that comes from beliefs that you carry about yourself. It is very connected to self worth. It’s about your partner, but it’s not really about your partner. It all comes down to self worth and self love. I want you to really start to ponder how your thoughts become reality. What you’re saying to yourself will show you what your beliefs are so pay attention to it. And, when you become aware of it you can start to change it.

Let me explain.

When you put on the lens of questioning your partner’s love or commitment to you, can you see how anything that they do, you’re going to connect it to that? You’re going to think “Oh, he did that and they’re doing it because they really don’t love me, they really don’t care about me.”

I was just working with a client a few weeks ago, on this particular issue. The way he looked at her, the way he talked to her, would trigger her because she was in the “he doesn’t care about me” mindset. She was thinking “If he cared about me then he wouldn’t…”, and everything connected back to this because she was questioning the love he had for her. And, that’s very detrimental because the more we look for something, the more we find it. You see, our brain is wired to look for familiar things. If your brain thinks you’re not loved, it’s going to look for that in your partner. “Oh, she doesn’t love me — that’s why she’s doing this”.

Let me give you a very different example. If you have a particular model of car, say you have a Honda, you’re going to start to see a Honda pretty much all around you. It’s called brain patterning. That’s what the brain does, it looks for familiar things. So, again, if your brain is saying you’re not loved, it’s going to start looking for that.

Can you see how powerful this is to notice?

Where would you be if you stopped questioning your partner’s love for you?

What would happen if you started to do that?

Let’s move on to the second habit that can destroy your relationship.

Wanting to be Right

Being right has nothing to do with actually being right. Yep — you read that correctly! I know that sounds kind of weird and convoluted, but it’s never about being right.

Have you heard this saying “You can either be right or be in a relationship”?

Yeah, it pretty much sums it up. Have you seen this in your relationship? It’s not about being right it’s about being heard. When you have an argument and your partner’s not hearing you, why do you get triggered? It’s because you are not being heard. Your partner is not able to hear or maybe you just think that your partner is not able to hear you, so you get triggered.

Sit with that for a moment. Let it sink in. It’s about not being heard.

You keep pushing your point across because you just want to be heard. One of the couples I used to work with, she grew up in a household where she was not heard or understood. And, so she had to explain her point of view, she really had to force her way in. She learned to be stubborn. She learned to kind of be stuck in her ways because she thought that was the only way that people would hear her. And that was all true for her. In our time together, we really looked at why she was controlling her environment in that way. We also worked on clearing the energetic imprints from her childhood that were interfering with her current life with her partner. And, then she learned to express her needs in a different way.

Now, on to the third habit that can destroy your relationship.

Threatening to Leave or Asking for a Divorce

Yeah. This is a big one. And many people do this. You know, you may or may not have realized that when you’re in an argument, your reptilian brain or amygdala, which is the survival brain, kicks into fight or flight mode. The brain perceives an argument as a threat. In that moment, it IS a threat to you.

Because, what happens in an argument?

There is a disconnect, right? Disconnect means not feeling love. And, our entire being is about getting love, we want to be loved, we want to feel love and in an argument, there is no love. So, it is a threat to the reptilian part of our brains. That is why we have that fight or flight reaction and threatening to leave is nothing but a flight reaction.

I’m saying this to take you away from feeling like “Oh my god, I do this! This is wrong!” It’s not about being wrong, you have to learn to separate your brain from your mind, your brain goes “Danger! Get out of here!” but the mind is beyond that.

So instead, breathe. Ask yourself “What is this about?”, “Why am I feeling so triggered?”. Here’s something you can try when your brain pushes you towards that fear mode. Tell your partner that you’re being triggered. Let your partner know that you need a break from the conversation and tell them that you will come back to talk to them. Be sure to keep your word so that you don’t break their trust. When you do that it really says, “Okay, we’re still having this conversation but at a different time”. Come back to your partner and talk about it when you’re in a calmer state.

On to the fourth habit that can destroy your relationship.

Having Angry Outbursts

So here’s the thing, right, we all know how destructive anger is. It’s like fire, it will burn everything down in the vicinity. But, have you ever wondered why we actually get angry? What brings up that feeling of anger? It’s because there is a need that is not being met. Anger is a facade, a protective shield. Underneath it all, is a need that hasn’t been met.

One of my clients didn’t like water on the counter. You know, like when you wash dishes and the water splashes on the counter around the sink? She just could not tolerate that for some reason and it would really bother her. Now, her partner would often just drop water everywhere and she wouldn’t clean up after herself and this would trigger my client. And she would tolerate it for a while and then she’d have a big angry outburst!

Now, think about it, how likely is it that her partner is going to respond in a positive way to this outburst?

So, here’s the thing, the water on the sink didn’t bother her partner so it wasn’t on her radar and she most likely didn’t notice it. But, for my client, it was a huge trigger.

Now, when we dug deeper what came out was this underlying belief that her needs didn’t matter and what she asked for didn’t matter. So her interpretation of what her partner was doing was, “I’m not important to you because if I were important to you then you would not do what you’re doing”.

Do you see how that has nothing to do with anger? It has everything to do with needing to be understood and needing to feel like you matter to your partner.

All right, we’re going to go to habit number 5 that can destroy your relationship.

Shutting Down in a Conflict

This is vital because it’s one of the most destructive pieces in a relationship. It may not may or may not be obvious to you that anger and shutting down kind of go hand in hand. But shutting down or stonewalling, as it’s called, is one of the most destructive things. I’m going to demonstrate how harmful it is and any of you who are parents, hold your heart, because this may trigger some of you.

The still face experiment was done by a psychologist named Ed Tronic who demonstrated the effect of stonewalling between mothers and infants. In this experiment, the mother responds to her child’s cues with nothing, with a blank unreactive face for just one minute. And, here’s what happens. The baby protests the loss of emotional connection to his mother in a variety of ways. He points, he screams, he aggressively moves around in his chair and remember, this is an infant! And when these attempts fail, the baby withdraws by looking away and after some time he starts to cry in panic and despair. At the end of the experiment, the mother looks back at the baby and smiles and the baby immediately calms. It was able to emotionally regulate with the mother immediately.

Now, think about this when it comes to your adult relationships.

Each time your partner turns away from connection, your response is not dissimilar to that of the baby. When you look at the relationship from an attachment viewpoint, it feels like a threat to survival doesn’t it? By now, you may or may not realize how much your relationship with your partners is connected to your predominant attachment style.

So, here’s the other piece of amazing information, John Gottman’s research has found that 85% of stonewallers are men. Surprise! No, not really, right? This comes down to nurture versus nature, we train our boys to not be tolerant of emotions. They have a harder time really regulating emotions which is why they turn away. The turning away is not “I’m going to ignore you”, it’s more about not being able to tolerate the emotions that they’re feeling. And oftentimes, it’s not done out of maliciousness but rather because they think by shutting down they will keep the peace. What usually ends up happening is the exact opposite, but they don’t know any better.

This comes back around to the beliefs that we form as children. And, I’m inviting you to go deeper and just sit with these things and start to understand what these beliefs are and how they were formed. And when you understand those beliefs, you can clear it on an energetic level so it no longer has the roots to continue to make you do the things you’re doing.

We’re down to the sixth habit that can destroy your relationship.

Lack of Boundaries

Whenever you feel angry, frustrated, or resentful it’s because your boundaries are either being violated or you haven’t set any boundaries at all. Lack of boundaries is usually seen as over-giving in a relationship. And, when your cup is empty, there’s nothing more to give. How can the relationship survive on that? So, I want you to consider how lack of boundaries is affecting you and how this can actually destroy your relationship.

Time for habit number seven.

Making Interpretations of Your Partner’s Behavior

You may or may not have noticed, first of all that everything is an interpretation. Everything’s a story we tell ourselves. So, just take this for example, I’m saying something “bla bla bla bla bla” and you’re interpreting whatever I’m saying. I’m filtering from my own lens, whatever I’m saying comes from my own interpretation of things I’ve read, people I’ve worked with, my own life experiences, all these things are just interpretations. And when we come to relationships, we do the same thing. We can apply this to everything that triggers us. It comes from interpretations you’ve made, an interpretation of what your partner’s saying doing or being, is triggering you.

Lastly, the eighth habit that can destroy your relationship.

Withholding Information for Fear of Rejection

This is very important to examine because it comes down to just one thing. That most human beings want love. Can see how everything comes back down to love, wanting love, giving love, getting love? You can see how it’s all connected to love, can’t you? So, everything that most people do is to avoid rejection. We do everything in our power, consciously or unconsciously, to avoid rejection. So when your partner is upset, angry, overdrawn, all you want to do is try to get them to connect with you. You’re trying to avoid the rejection.

But, what if you faced it?

What if you face that very thing that you’re trying to avoid? Face it head on, tell your partner that you’re not feeling loved right now! Another easy way to shift that, is to start loving yourself. It comes back down to self worth and self love. When you can live from that place of “I am valued”, “I’m good enough”, “I’m good the way I am”, everything around you will start to shift.

So that covers the eight habits that can destroy your relationship. Which ones resonated with you most? And what will you work to do differently? Share with me in the comments.

Xo,

Padma

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Padma Ali, LMFT, CPCC

Master Coach for Evolved Executives. Love brain psychology & ancient wisdom. Podcaster. Live your highest potential. Open channel for divine inspiration. Mom.