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90 Ways People Trash Their Relationship

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 on 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 to be gossip.
  15. Using vulnerable information, you are privileged to have to throw up to them to gain an advantage
  16. Agreeing to things you have no intention to follow through on just to get the uncomfortable argument over with.
  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 piece.
  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 with other tasks
  31. When your partner expresses a complaint, you’re defensive saying “you do it too”
  32. Bringing up issues from long ago to strengthen your case rather than staying focused on the present issue
  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 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 such as “How can you possibly think that? or “How could you make such a stupid decision?”
  41. Saying “You always”
  42. Saying “You never”
  43. A kitchen sink fight is bringing up so 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 it when you know you made a mistake
  50. Leaving it to your partner to make 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 through faultfinding 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 the non-sexual touch
  74. Drifting into boring sexual encounters rather than risking novelty and adventure within the partnership
  75. Rushing to the 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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90 Ways People Trash Their Relationship


Linda Bloom LCSW and Charlie Bloom MSW are considered experts in the field of relationships. They have been married since 1972. They have both been trained as seminar leaders, therapists and relationship counselors and have been working with individuals, couples, and groups since 1975. They have been featured presenters at numerous conferences, universities, and institutions of learning throughout the country and overseas as well. They have appeared on over two hundred radio and TV programs. Linda and Charlie are co-authors of the widely acclaimed books: 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last (over 100,000 copies sold) Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, and Happily Ever After...and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams. The Blooms are excited to announce the release of their fourth book, That Which Doesn't Kill Us: How One Couple Became Stronger at the Broken Places. They live in Santa Cruz, California, near their two children and three grandchildren. To view our upcoming events and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit our website at:

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APA Reference
Bloom, L. (2020). 90 Ways People Trash Their Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 24, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Jun 2020
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.