I used to think that the best way to acquire a new habit was to do that thing consistently for 21 days, but I recently spoke to a friend and when I mentioned 21 days to form a habit, she went, “You have not started!”
For her, it takes close to four months before you can establish habits and be able to influence others to join you. It got me thinking, if all it takes is just four months, like my friend said, then people like me that have been married forever (actually, 8 years), will surely have formed many habits.
Like with all things, some habits are good, and some are just baaaad. We acquire both in marriages and other long term relationships, especially when you start feeling comfortable with your partner.
Today’s post is about the bad habits and how to get out of five of these bad habits, which we will be talking about today. Here we go:
- Keeping “scores”
If both partners in the relationship do this, then it becomes what is called a relationship scorecard.
So, you were less than a stellar guest at your cousin’s 21st birthday back in 2012 and more often than not, it always comes up in your communication with your partner. You basically are reminded of how you got senselessly drunk and began to thoroughly embarrass yourself, the celebrant and your entire family.
But the score is 1-1 because you once caught her sending flirtatious text messages to her co-worker, which immediately removes her right to get jealous, right?
Score keeping is a bad habit in relationships. That is just putting it lightly. What it is is toxic. Using past wrongdoings to justify current righteousness is evil. Not only is it an attempt to deflect from the current issue itself, it also builds up a reservoir of guilt and bitterness from the past to manipulate your partner into feeling wrong in the present.
What to-do : Deal with issues individually unless they are legitimately connected. If someone habitually cheats, then that’s obviously a recurring problem. But the fact that she embarrassed you in 2010 and now she got sad and ignored you today in 2013 have nothing to do with each other, so don’t bring it up.
You must recognize that by choosing to be with your significant other, you are choosing to be with all of their prior actions and behaviours. If you don’t accept those, then ultimately, you are not accepting them.
2. Playing the victim
You can’t avoid pain in relationships, but you can certainly avoid getting beating yourself up. Couples, who are stuck in this habit will commonly compete about who is the bigger victim. One person is always sicker, having a harder time at work or suffering more in general. According to therapists, this habit in relationships stems from unaddressed anger or animosity.
The solution is obvious; stop internalizing your aggression. Constructive anger can actually be good for your health, so open up and speak your mind about a prior argument or issue that’s been simmering inside you. You’d be surprised at how helpful it can be to release the shame and guilt that holds you back.
- Avoidance tactics
This is one habit in which either, or both, partners avoid effort because of the fear of failure. In relationships, this can lead to avoiding the most difficult issues for fear of losing the other person when, in fact, you have already lost each other. This habit can sap both partners’ motivation levels.
Rather than lowering the bar for your life and relationships, raise it. See failure as a sign that you are trying to improve your life, and reward yourself for small successes along the way.
- Letting your partner’s mood determine yours
In your brain, there is a chain of neurons that form a “mirror” that reflects your partner’s emotions. Called mirror neurons, these are the culprits that make your partner’s moods contagious. Women are very sensitive to this mirror effect; it’s easy to fall into the same hole your partner is stuck in.
Solution: You don’t have to feel bad just because your partner does. If you don’t want to catch your partner’s mood, try thinking about things you love while you help your partner climb out of his or her horrible situation. It will take some practice, but it’s possible to feel good while also being supportive and empathic.
- Displays of “Loving” Jealousy
This is getting annoyed when your partner talks, flirts, touches, calls, texts, hangs out, or sneezes in the general vicinity of another person and then you proceed to take that anger out on your partner and attempt to control their behaviour.
This often leads to insane behaviours such as snooping into your partner’s email account, looking through their text messages while they’re in the shower or even following them around town and surprise visits.
It’s a bad habit, it’s surprising how many people describe this as some sort of display of affection. They figure that if their partner wasn’t jealous then that would somehow mean that they weren’t loved by them.
Love??! It sounds more like being controlling and manipulative. It creates unnecessary drama and fighting. It transmits a message of a lack of trust in the other person.
To get out of this habit, you just have to learn how to trust your partner. True some jealousy is natural. But excessive jealousy and controlling behaviours towards your partner are signs of your own feelings of unworthiness and you should learn to value your self.
If you’re having trouble feeling fulfilled in your romantic life, it’s likely that one of these five habits is lurking in your head right now. All it takes is a few mental shifts, unlearning old habits, learn new habits and ultimately, enjoy longer, more satisfying relationships.
Stay in love!
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.