3 Ways We Ruin Relationships

No matter who you are, what you do, who you know, we've all ruined relationships. But to be honest, we probably didn't mean to. To be even more honest, we probably don't know how we do it. Sadly, many of us continue to destroy our relationships and we can't stop.

 Let's look at the word ruin. Webster defines it as “to deliberately destroy or damage”

Unfortunately, on top of this many of us are masters of sabotage. We ironically destroy the vital pieces of our own lives. Our careers, our friendships, our integrity, and even our trust. But if one thing is true, it's that relationships are a critical component to our health and happiness – not just intimate relationships, but all friends, family, and co-workers.

If you struggle with relationships, you struggle with life.

Early childhood plays a heavy role here. All of us, to some degree, have experienced damage and learned behaviors that result in brokenness and mistrust for others. It's made us skeptical, weary, critical, fearful, and worried. A re-learning of how to relate, how to connect, and how to love, is required.

Here are just 3 Ways (of many) we Ruin Relationships – and How to Stop:

1. The Blame Game.

I have a friend who just can't keep a girlfriend. Relationship after relationship. Great girl after great girl. Year after year. But they always end the same – in a list of reasons why they're so horrible. When all ten of your fingers are pointing at the other person, that’s a pretty good indicator that the problem is actually you.

People who struggle with blame often think:

  • “I just can't find the right one”
  • “Why am I so attracted to people who need to be fixed?”
  • “I always pick the idiots”
  • “I don't deserve a good relationship”

Can’t you read the bitterness and the cynicism in these words? Perhaps you’ve said them before. What if you are the problem? Have you had a series of relationships that ended before you wanted them to? When there’s a pattern in your life, you owe it to yourself to look closely at the cause or risk repeating the behavior in the next relationship. Don't be like my friend. You'll find yourself lonely and bitter, and sadly, you won't know why.

2. Passive-Aggressive Behavior.

You don’t say what you’re thinking or feeling. The truth comes out in ways that are unhealthy, even explosive at times. When you feel let down, for example, you might withhold communications or touch from the person you are in a relationship with. You’re not skilled or comfortable with using your words. You struggle through the awkwardness and lack the courage required for confrontation.

Kindergarten and preschool teachers often tell students who are struggling with self-control: “Use your words.” The first reaction of a child is to lash out and hit or to withdraw from the source of pain or hurt. As an adult, or maturing person, we have been given the gift of words, the gift of adult communication. These tools can be used to draw us back into a healthy understanding of our relationship's needs.

When you’re hurt, talk about it. When you’re angry, say something. The healthiest relationships acknowledge that conflict happens whenever two people get together and learn appropriate skills to navigate the inevitable.

3. Expectations as High as the Sky.

As an addict of performance, I’m guilty of this one. Unrealistic expectations. Trying to chisel out of stone the ideal image – the person you have in your mind’s eye – instead of loving and accepting the imperfect person standing before you. Sure, expectations are good when they drive incremental change, positivity, and are guided by grace and acceptance. But unreasonable expectations begin to undermine, or sabotage, a relationship once they become immovable standards that must be met.

People fail. People make mistakes. People are lazy. People are different than us. Many people who ruin relationships have problems accepting the reality of the flawed human being in front of them. We're all broken. It's time to accept it.

3 Ways We Ruin Relationships

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27 Responses

  1. Speaking from experience I can say that I sabatoged my last relationship. I was guilty of many things but mostly number three. Once you fixate your attention to things that don’t fit your ideal image, things go south. From there, everything seems to pile on top of each other. Eventually, my relationship ended. However, I am glad to say that I found someone new and have been happily married for six months today. Things come and go, realize that good can come from all bad.

  2. My husband and I have been married for almost 7yrs and we have a 3yr old. The thing we both lack is communication and after reading this, I am sabotaging our of fear. He has always been the more negative unwilling to change one but in the last year he has been the more flexible and I the negative one. In reading this I realize it is my expectations of perfection. The perfect marriage, the perfect kid, the perfect life, what everyone else thinks and I have lost being in the moment. I grew up in a house where my parents never argued in front of us and my mom was a stuffer of emotions. I learned the stuffing all to well and if I learned anything from today’s post, it is as I tell my 3yr old, use your words! And no one is perfect. Thank you for the reminder and starting today I am going to learn to use my words. Thank you for this wonderful article!

  3. Another way I see people ruining relationship is making assumptions based on previous relationships. Some people just forget to separate one person from another, and create unnecessary trust issue.

    As for keeping relationship, from mu personal experience, i think it all comes down to making the decisions positively together. None of us were born with bad qualities, but none of us were born good either. Being the “right” one for your partner is also a choice, so the real question is: Are you willing to do it?

  4. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. So many of us will go to great lengths to be “right”. One thing we all have in common is that we are all wrong at times and in my opinion it is necessary to realize that being wrong is ok. Become aware of when we are wrong, accept it and apologize for it. It does not make us “bad’ or “less than”. This is something that can, and should be , applied to all relationsips in our life.

  5. I ruined a relationship (he was a crush) with this guy because i pushed him all the way out of my “love” life just because I was having stupid depression problems and we eventually started talking again after a couple years

  6. I was in a terrible relationship growing as a teenager, then when I got to college, I had a very bad relationship too. After a lot of introspection, in a time when I wanted to be on my own, I met someone when I least expected it. We both were super attracted to each other, but we shared our fears about relationships, so we agreed to take things easy, to talk about everything, to never expect anything from the other.
    5 years later, we are still together in what I believe is a very healthy relationship, but he asked me to move in with him, and suddenly we are talking about getting married and I am totally terrified about it.
    My heart and my head tell me it’s a great idea, we love each other and we really want to spend our lives together, but I am scared to death, I don’t know why, and I question myself constantly about it, but I can’t seem to find the problem. I never know wether to runaway or to take the big next step.

    1. Your heart and head know whether it is good for you and whether you want to spend your life with him. What you need to do is stop telling yourself and everyone that you’re scared to death. Those negativity will stop you from moving forward. Adjust yourself to thinking positively where it synchronize with your heart and head that you want to be with him. Unless your heart doesn’t want you to be with him them it’s a different story. Or if you’re really not ready you can keep his proposal on hold and wait until you’re ready. In a positive way.

    2. I tend to do that too. It’s only natural. To question it all. But I think if you’ve been with eacother this long. Then you’re doing everything right. As long as you handle conflicts well talk it out live a healthy relationship and most importantly truely love him. Everyone gets scared. But I guess the question is can you stand to live without him?

  7. Whether it’s relationship or marriage. It takes work, I don’t like, I feel like authentic loves is something that grows into something amazing. It takes nurturing and care. Saying positive things to each other everyday. I feel like your other is a reflection of yourself. And whatever you are saying about that person, you are probably saying it to yourself as well. There is no perfect relationship. There is only daily practice to contribute. Instead of saying what that person can do for you, ask how can I help. I’ve been through some tornados too. Sometimes, someone else’s drama get’s you sucked in. So be weary of that as well. It’s not easy, but after seeing and experiencing so much drama as a child growing up till now dealing with divorces and bad relationships. It’s exhausting. Im married now, we had a lot of support from our families. Though it really takes work. We are both the kind of person to ask. How can I help, and stick to your word. It’s not easy. but possible. Good Luck everyone. x

  8. Guess that making comparissons about the people you have been with and the people you are envolve with at the time

  9. This last relationship was ruined because I did use my words and he was shut off and wouldn’t hear them. He told me when we first started dating that he would never fight with me. I thought that was wonderful because I hated fighting. I didn’t realize that meant he would run when there was a conflict. We didn’t have conflict for almost 18 months because we lived three hours apart and I didn’t want to upset him when we were together so I let things go. When I got tired of doing that, or maybe just comfortable enough in the length of the relationship, I started using my words. That’s when everything fell apart. I don’t regret it though. It wasn’t going to work if I couldn’t be honest about my feelings.
    I love your articles. They all have some relevance to what I’m going through now or have been through in the past. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  10. Relationship fails when both parties or one of them insist to think negatively. Or both having different goals in life that they have to achieve which values more than the relationship, they choose to part.

  11. I am seeing a man who admits he see’s other woman I am having trouble accepting this I have always only seen one man at a time but at our ages I can see where this isn’t realistic until you decide on the exclusive relationship how can I accept this new way of life?

    1. Don’t accept that. I am 21 and I know better. You don’t deserve it. You deserve to be loved, truly. Not partially.

    2. Why are you settling for less than you deserve? What he does with you, he does with other women. When you sleep with him, he does exactly the same with others! Question your worth to him. You will get nothing more because he cannot and will not commit. He has already admitted you are not special by telling you about other women.You are living His world not your own. How nice for him! Is it possible you could find someone who won’t USE you? I bet he is charming and attentive and makes you feel special just as he does the other women. Get real. Get out and find a whole man not half of one. Don’t waste time hoping he will change – he won’t.
      Be kind and true to yourself. You don’t have to get use to a “new way of life” that is his way. Get a backbone.

  12. My boyfriend has depression and couldn’t work for years. If I tell him stop taking money from me (I don’t have much) and go find a job, he’ll probably get even more depress. Use words? Sounds easy, but not really.

  13. I’m in love of a ghost… my expectations on other humans are too high and that’s affecting my life so much, I’ve been single for almost four years… according to me “destiny” haven’t given me the righ one, but that’s a lie, I’m not accepting others as they are but as I wanted to be…

  14. Those are all very good points. I’ve seen relationships ruined by nit-picking, excessive clinginess, over-commitment, always trying to be a “fixer”, mental illness and addiction. Like you said in the first point, until you can learn to look within and see where you went wrong, you’ll never move forward.

  15. I’m in love with a ghost. I’m afraid of rejection. I’ve given up on giving myself to anyone. My childhood is the reason, have been unable to conquer. Reading this just reminds me of all my failures.

  16. Last relationship ended due to him having drug problems and constantly cheating. I brought it up several times and he simply denied everything with a devilish, beautiful smile on his face. Checking his accounts daily, I found more and more… I took each thing as a crime against our relationship yet no longer spoke of his cheating. I was just waiting until my love for him would be “enough” and he would be faithful. I became bitter and resentful with each thing I found and he started being abusive and extremely manipulative… I finally found the courage to leave him. I’m still sorting out whose faults were whose in the relationship.

  17. Yikes! The word ‘withdraw’ got me. I do it often– Even in my friendships @ times… The only difference is I have some great sistah-girls who don’t mind calling me on the carpet for it. Thank you for this.

  18. My Relationship of year end over the phone on Halloween two day before a planed trip with my ex to Paris and Egypt. She was cold and distant and never reached out once. I went to her house only to find another guy picking her up and i confronted her. I found out that they were boyfriend girlfriend 3 weeks after our break up. two weeks later she was engaged to him. She broke up with me making me feel guilty like i did something wrong. I’ve never had my worst enemy do me like she did. This the toughest thing i’ve ever had to deal with. Through out the whole relationship she expressed how much she was in love with me and wanted to marry me. She is weak, stubborn, selfish and narcissistic. I feel like i wasted a year of my life. we were friend for 13 years before we got together.

  19. Damaged Goods! That would be the #1 thing I’ve seen. People collect too much junk internally from traumatizing events in childhood & previous relationships & never deal with it. Usually this also causes them to continually get into dysfunctional & unhealthy relationships over & over & over, and they are drawn into dysfunctional men/women. It becomes a vicious cycle! They have a false understanding of love which stems from lack of self love, low self worth & low self esteem. Cheating becomes the norm, lies, deception, mental & emotional abuse, etc…Then they finally get ahold of a good man/woman & totally ruin it! They do not know how to function with a man/woman that doesn’t treat them poorly. So they find ways to sabotage the relationship with a good man/woman mostly unintentional, but they still do. These are the people who will dump a great man/woman & run back to an ex that cheated on them, used them, neglected them, etc.

  20. My lazy ass girlfriend has an important errand to run fro her mother today and wont get out of bed to do it, we just had a huge fight and she still wont get out of bed!!! so im just about to dump a bucket of water over her and our bed! I think it’s over I cant take her laziness

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