7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 2

In the previous post, 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 1, we examined the first three of seven deadly relationship sins, how to recognise them, and most importantly, how to keep them ruining your relationship. In this post, we examine the other four deadly relationship sins, and summarise the seven things you should avoid in your relationship to ensure that you keep love for the long haul.

4. Emotional blackmail

Emotional blackmail is when someone with whom you have a close and intimate personal relationship uses fear, guilt or obligation to manipulate you. You’ve probably heard some of the commonly used phrases before: “If you loved me, you would…”, “After all I’ve done for you…”, “I thought I meant a little more than that to you…”, “I’ve got no-one else that cares about me…” or “I wouldn’t have asked you if it wasn’t important…” Often, because of the close relationship between the two people, the perpetrator of emotional blackmail knows the victim’s insecurities, secrets and other intimate knowledge, and uses these against them to achieve their goal. By its very definition, emotional blackmail involves our emotions, which often cloud our judgement and hinder our rational thought processes. Manipulating your partner to achieve some end is not part of a strong and healthy relationship, so how can you avoid emotional blackmail or deal with it appropriately when it happens? Firstly, be aware of the signs. As Forward and Frazier describe in their book Emotional Blackmail, there are six stages: 1) a demand, 2) your resistance, 3) pressure, 4) threat(s), 5) your compliance, and 6) repetition. Victims of emotional blackmail are often insecure and have difficulty saying no to people. Having a healthy ego by learning improve your self-esteem and self-love can help prevent being a victim – and realise that sometimes its okay to say no to a request and that it doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. Finally, make sure you try to stay in control of your emotions and judge the situation and the request rationally.

5. Lack of affection & inattentiveness

Withholding affection is a form of emotional blackmail (see above) sometimes used in relationships, but sometimes through the natural drift of a relationship, we can forget to show love for our partner in the form of affection and intimacy. In fact, remembering to express your feelings for your partner and your attraction physically is one of Find Keep Love’s 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love, particularly in long term relationships where affection and intimacy require a little more effort and motivation than newer relationships. It doesn’t have to be too hard – see 10 Ways To Surprise Your Partner and Relationship Maintenance & Avoiding Relationship Ruts for some great tips on how to keep your love alive and avoid the deadly sin of lack of affection and inattentiveness.

6. Unrealistic expectations of your relationship & your partner

As described in The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last, romantic comedies can give unrealistic expectations of your partner and your relationship when the storylines contained within aren’t treated as a form of escapism, but as realistic. Having unrealistic expectations puts unnecessary pressure on your partner to perform, making them constantly conscious of their dealings with you and making them feel like they are never good enough for you, damaging their self-esteem. These unrealistic expectations can come from a number of different sources: our past relationships and experiences, our family values, traditions and upbringing or relying on others to fill an internal void. What about your own expectations of your partner, family or close friends? Are you expecting too much? Now this isn’t advocating the lowering of your own personal standards, but thinking about your expectations rationally and realistically, and asking yourself, “Am I being fair?” After all, we’re all humans and we’re none of us perfect, and having expectations that are too high leads to disappointment and frustration, and ultimately unhealthy relationships.

7. Undermining or belittling (especially in public & including being mean)

Most of the time you should be your partner’s number one supporter and stick up for them in situations where they need an ally. This support can take various forms: physical comfort and emotional support (listening and sympathising), esteem support (expressing confidence and giving encouragement), informational support (in the form of advice or providing information) and tangible support (taking on responsibilities to assist your partner or brainstorming solutions). Every now and then, they’re in the wrong or you don’t agree with their behaviour, actions or opinions, and how you deal with this is important. This leads us to the last of the deadly relationship sins: undermining or belittling your partner, especially in public (for example, around friends or family). The strength of your relationship with your partner and how open you are with your feelings (and how thick their skin is) determines how honest you can be with your partner, particularly when you disagree. However, dealing with a disagreement by undermining a person’s sense of self-worth by constantly criticising them, belittling their abilities, and calling them names or manipulating them into following your opinion/lifestyle/behaviour is a form of abuse. Being able to disagree on things and discuss them rationally and passionately is a sign of a strong and healthy relationship. Finally, in some countries, making fun of others, including your own partner, or ‘taking the piss,’ is part of the national culture and in some circles considered a way of showing affection. You may think you’re being funny and playful, but depending on the frequency of your jokes and the sensitivity of your partner, it might not be seen as funny at all. There are plenty of other ways to show affection and be funny – and avoid any misunderstandings – without being mean to or belittling others.

Avoiding these seven deadly relationship sins – and actively practicising the 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1 and Part 2 – will make sure your relationship runs smoothly and help you keep love for the long haul. In summary:

1. Lack of communication (not listening to your partner, not communicating feelings, keeping secrets)
2. Physical or emotional cheating
3. Jealousy
4. Emotional blackmail
5. Lack of affection & inattentiveness
6. Unrealistic expectations of your relationship & your partner
7. Undermining or belittling (especially in public & including being mean)

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7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 1

Every long term relationship has its ups and downs, and how we deal with difficulties in a relationship defines us as people and defines the partnership. In the next two posts, we’ll look at seven deadly relationship sins, how to recognise them, and most importantly, how to avoid them ruining your relationship.

1. Lack of communication

Lack of communication is something that one or both partners will complain about at some stage of a long term relationship and it is one of the biggest relationship killers. It can manifest itself in a number of different ways, including:

a) Not listening to your partner – one of the biggest complaints between partners and something couples therapists make a ton of money from. Learn to read the body language of your partner and gauge whether something is important to them. Properly, actively listening to your partner is one way of showing that you respect them, support them and are interested in them.

b) Not communicating feelings – your fears, hopes, dreams, insecurities, issues, and problems. People do change with time and without periodically updating your partner on your thoughts, feelings and interested, you can naturally drift apart (see The Natural Drift Of Relationships – Why Some Relationships Don’t Last). Even small issues, like for example a man leaving the toilet seat up over and over again, can build up to resentment over time and injure your relationship.

c) Keeping secrets – a cornerstone of a healthy and strong relationship is trust (see 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 2), but keeping secrets and having your partner find out can make them feel untrusted and question your own trustworthiness. To build trust in your relationship, check out our post on 10 Ways To Become Trustworthy And More Trusting.

2. Physical or emotional cheating

Cheating doesn’t always have to be physical, and you can do just as much damage to a relationship, if not more, by emotionally cheating. Temptation is all around us, and with the development of the internet, smartphones and other technologies connecting us with people all around the world, there are more and more opportunities to cheat. A fling with someone else – or even mutually entertaining the thought of it – may make you feel wanted or loved (or at least lusted after), but it is masking a void or deficiency in your own relationship that you need to address. In addition, the definition of acceptable behaviour when around others outside the relationship can differ from person to person and couple to couple. Think about the things you might say or write to others, or your body language, in the context of your own partner and your own relationship. How would you feel if your partner said or did similar things to another person? When does harmless, friendly flirting become something more?

3. Jealousy

A little jealousy can be good and healthy in a relationship – it can promote protectiveness and competitiveness to care and protect both your partner and relationship from the perceived threat. It can remind you of your feelings for your partner, and it can help you to think about and understand yourself a little better. In this way, healthy jealousy acts to guard and support a relationship. But too much, too often can be a deadly relationship killer. Overly jealous people see the world through a distorted lens, losing perspective and perceiving danger where there might not be. Jealousy is a highly complex emotion and can be incredibly powerful, causing us to lose control. Jealousy can be caused by insecurity and possessiveness. It can also be caused by a fear of rejection, abandonment or loss, and it can be triggered by feelings of powerlessness or a lack of control. Overcoming jealousy isn’t an easy task, but you can start by learning to love yourself (see Part 1: Find Love. Step 1. Love Yourself) to develop self-love and self-worth, creating a healthy relationship within us. This develops self-esteem and creates a healthy ego, allowing us develop healthy and productive interpersonal relationships with others. Building trust can strengthen your relationship and help overcome jealousy.

Be sure to check out the second part of this post, 7 Deadly Relationship Sins – What Not To Do In Love – Part 2, which examines the other four deadly relationship sins. And don’t forget to read 6 Secrets To Keeping Long Term Love – Part 1 and Part 2.