Some relationships end after a big fight — a showdown over one thing or another, something from which the two of you can't recover. Other relationships, however, end softly, almost gently, when you just wake up one day and realize that you two are near-strangers living side-by-side, rather than partners in a healthy relationship. It's sad and disappointing and about a million other things any time a relationship ends, but maybe even more so when it ends due to little habits that gradually drive your partner away. These are things when, looking back, you realize are silly and minor and could've been avoided. Habits can be hard to break, but in order to even try, you need to know that you have these habits in the first place.
As you've likely heard once or twice before, communication is key in any relationship, but especially between you and your partner. "When two different people come together they have things that just get under their skin. Those pet peeves should be addressed as soon as they are seen," licensed mental health counselor Montigus Jackson tells Romper by email. "Not addressing them will cause frustration and resentment, which will eventually lead to a breakup. When people do not speak on the things that bother them they have the ability to get pushed away."
If your partner tries to talk to you about one of your habits, it can be difficult to listen and attempt to make behavioral adjustments. Remember that, too, when you bring up their habits. Changing your way of doing things can be difficult, talking about these things can be difficult... but if it might save your relationship, it just might be worth it.
1. Telling White Lies
Little white lies might seem harmless, but if it happens over and over again, eventually, it could push your partner away. Dr. Piper Grant, a licensed clinical psychologist tells Romper that this is because, over time, your partner could start to question whether or not they can trust the things you're saying. If they can't trust you and you can't trust them with the truth, even if that's not how you intend your little fibs to come across, it could lead to the distance that ends your relationship.
2. Letting Life Get In The Way
When you first start dating, Grant says, it's pretty easy to invest — both time and money — into your relationship, but as time goes on, there's more mundane life stuff that can just get in the way if you let it. You may cancel plans with your partner or just forget to make them because there are other little things that need to be tended to. If that becomes a habit, it could negatively affect your bond.
3. Too Much (You Guessed It) Screen Time
Everyone wants to relax at the end of the day, especially after busy or stressful days. Taking time for TV, movies, video games, social media or clicking around on the internet can feel like a nice way to wind down, but it's not your best bet if you're neglecting your relationship along the way.
"Couples that live together may seem to spend a lot of time together by default but it may not necessarily be quality time," licensed marriage and family therapist associate and relationship specialist Melody Li tells Romper in an email exchange. "I define quality time as time that’s dedicated to building positive memories and to get interested in one another. Without carving out intentional time, partners may slowly lose interest or feel less interesting, regardless of how much time they spend sitting next to each other."
4. Sweeping Everything Under The Rug
Fighting all the time over every little thing isn't great, but sweeping everything under the rug all the time isn't good either. If you have a habit of insisting that everything is always fine, that could wear on your partner. "Avoidance is a short-term strategy to feeling better temporarily, and a guaranteed long-term way to suffering," divorce and sex therapist Karolina Pasko tells Romper via email. Bring up the issues that matter. Your relationship will be stronger as a result.
5. Having Too Many Relationship Rules
As therapist Katie Krimer tells Romper by email, "Getting caught up in 'texting rules' and therefore perhaps not playing their own role in helping a relationship reach the next step [or] having too many rules about what a relationship 'should' look like or 'feel' like – falling into the rom-com trap," can drive your partner away. It's hard to live up to those rules and it can be difficult to have a real relationship if your partner is constantly comparing yours to what they think it's supposed to be.
6. Being Overly Reliant On Each Other
Grant says that being too dependent on your partner is one habit that, if you fall into it, can gradually create space between the two of you. It's a lot of pressure to constantly be expected to check on someone or do things for someone within a relationship and over time that can take its toll.
7. Being Late Or Disorganized
If you're that person who is never on time or is never quite sure where you're supposed to be when, that could drive your partner away. As psychotherapist Toni Coleman tells Romper in an email exchange, partners can get fed up if you're constantly running late or can never find what you're looking for. While, of course, they're likely willing to overlook it here and there, if it becomes a consistent habit, eventually it'll get old and their patience will run out.
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