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Toxic Habits You Should Quit To Become A Better Partner In A Relationship

by Irene Chooi. |

Dating in your 20s can be a roller coaster. It’s such a dated saying, but it’s true! The roller coaster can either be one of the cool ones at Disneyland where you never want to get off or a rickety one at a makeshift funfair that threatens to throw you off at every bump.

My dating experiences in my 20s have been more like a Katy Perry song “You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re yes and you’re no, you’re in and you’re out, you’re up and you’re down”. Simply put, it wasn’t fun. But all that jostling around has taught me some valuable tips in how to identify toxic habits that are a dead no-no for a healthy relationship. You want to avoid developing these toxic habits in yourself because they can poison your relationship and limit yours and your partner’s growth. So, if you notice any of these traits in yourself, maybe it’s time to change.

1. It’s “all about me” mindset

Selfishness is a huge no-no in a healthy relationship. This is a no-brainer, but it takes a bit of effort to spot and tackle because it’s so ingrained in all of us! It’s always me-me-me and some people might even try and sell it to you as self-care, but there is a fine line between the two that you must be able to identify to be a better partner.

Selfishness becomes toxic when you always put your own interests before your partner’s while disregarding his or her feelings. For example, insisting the two of you spend every festivity with your family instead of your partner’s. I get it. You love your family. But your partner loves his or her family too! Always putting your own family first makes your partner feel unloved, unheard and unhappy. How would you like it if you never got to see your family or friends? A healthy relationship splits time as evenly as possible between both families. Except in cases where one side does not get along with their own family.

Quitting the selfishness habit takes practice, but it’s definitely doable. Just communicate, set boundaries and most importantly, come up with a schedule. Alternate your holiday plans! If you get Chinese New Year, your partner gets Christmas, whichever is more important to each of you. Win-win.

2. The “winning” mentality

Always wanting to “win” can kill a relationship faster than a flock of sharp-beaked pigeons. This toxic habit could also be something that’s ingrained in you and is especially common in people who grew up in a competitive sibling environment.

While wanting to “win” could be a good professional attitude, it can wear down a relationship extremely quickly. I have experienced this before and I remember feeling drained, frustrated, shut out and disregarded, and that in turn made me feel like I was worthless in the relationship. The “winning” mentality applies to the most mundane things like deciding on what to eat for dinner. You might feel great about “winning” the debate and getting to eat pizza for the third time in a row that week, but it could do wonders for your relationship if you would just let go of your ego and eat some Thai food like your partner wanted instead.

3. Gossiping behind their backs

It’s normal for couples to get frustrated with each other. Maybe he left an empty milk container in the fridge again, maybe she was half an hour late for your date and you get annoyed. Most of us also like to gossip. Sometimes we get mad and just need to vent so we text our friends or go off over a coffee. We feel better afterwards, but the truth is you could have just sabotaged your relationship.

Those people you’re venting to probably don’t see the whole picture; they might not even know your partner personally. They don’t know that he cleans the kitchen for you every night so that you have a clean space in the morning. They don’t know that she remembers the birthdays of all your family members and gets them gifts.

Gossiping behind your partner’s back will damage their reputation and paint an unfair picture of your relationship. If you ever need support in a real relationship crisis, the advice your friends give you will be biased because they think your partner is bad news based on your one-sided gossiping. And imagine how you would feel if you found out your partner blackened your name to his or her friends.

So, the next time you feel the need to vent, take a breather and ask yourself if it’s really worth the consequences? If you really need to talk it out, keep it private and contained. There are only 2 people in the world I vent to about my partner and they know how wonderful he is 90% of the time. They give me a safe space to talk things out freely and not worry about blackening his name.

4. Name-calling

I’m not talking about “darling” or “dear”, I’m talking about the words that get bleeped out by the censorship board in movies. Sometimes we get angry, and the mouth filter gets turned off and the words just slip out of our mouths! What do you do then? Apologize and make a conscious effort never to do it again.

Nobody likes to be labelled, especially to be labelled with an insult from the person they love. Even though it happened years ago, I still remember how shocked and hurt I felt when my partner at the time called me the “B” word. He apologized later, but the damage was done. Name-calling is degrading, disrespectful, and has no place in a healthy relationship. You should also refrain from saying things like “you’re such a whiny baby”, or calling your partner a wimp or stupid. Come on, we’re not in kindergarten anymore.

There are better ways of communicating your frustrations. If you feel unable to control yourself, take a few minutes to cool down before saying something you regret.

5. Gaslighting

This is a heavy one and is in fact abuse. Gaslighting is when you manipulate someone into doubting their own memory, perception or judgement. It could start off innocently; you said something you regret in an argument and when your partner brings it up again you flat out deny it and make them question their memory of what happened.

Having been gaslighted before, I can tell you it’s one of the worst things you can do to someone you love. It can have lasting mental health implications on the victim and is no laughing matter. Make an effort to own up to your mistakes instead of making the other person feel “crazy”. If both your memories of an event don’t tally, make allowances and accept that maybe you both remembered it differently instead of insisting the other person is wrong.

If you went “Oh, I do that” at any of these traits, it’s time to go cold turkey. Treat others you way you want to be treated. So, if you’d hate for your partner to gaslight you, don’t do it to them! Some of the happiest couples I know are the ones who make their partners feel loved, respected and heard. Nobody is asking you to be perfect. In fact, sometimes I still try to convince my partner to eat the food I like and break his diet. But I never stop him from seeing his family and I never call him names.

Love is beautiful, love is kind, love is not going on Facebook to publicise your partner’s faults and wondering why no one likes him.

You can learn more about the writer on Instagram.

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