You’re always threatening to break up
iStock/Mixmike No one likes to waste their time and energy arguing, but you can’t draw the break-up card every time things get tough. Threats of taking a break or ending the relationship aren’t going to solve anything and are signs of a toxic relationship. “People use threats as a way to get their partner in line,” says Dr. Tatkin. “People should never threaten the relationship unless they intend to get out. It’s only valid if you mean it and do it, otherwise it just damages the safety and security of the relationship.” Instead of using threats to get your way, walk away to cool down and think rationally before you start spouting off erratic thoughts that you may regret later. These are toxic signs you’re in a bad relationship.
iStock/stock_colors You may find it doesn’t take much to get your blood boiling. One wrong move and suddenly you snap and blurt nasty remarks you don’t mean. “You continue to have these cycles of anger, remorse, shame, and provoked anger without understanding,” says Sari Cooper, a licensed clinical social worker and director of Center for Love and Sex in New York City. “You have to look at yourself and ask, ‘What’s going on here?’” Dr. Cooper suggests journaling when you feel your anger emerging to figure out the cause or “taking your temperature” on a scale of 0 to 10. If you know you fly off the handle at a 9, try to figure out how you feel at a 2 and then pinpoint what aggravated you to bring yourself down to a calmer state. When you reach a 6 or a 7, take a time out to gather your thoughts and emotions. If you don’t, you may skyrocket to that dreaded 9.
You never fix problems
iStock/martin-dm If you neglect to nip problems in the bud, they’re just going to fester and blow up in your face down the road, which can cause your partner to resent you. Something in our brain called the negativity bias may be to blame for this resentment because our brains are more likely to remember the negative aspect of things, according to Dr. Tatkin. In fact, research has shown that adults tend to use negative stimuli more than positive information to help them learn, form first impressions of others, and make sense of their experiences. This may be because the amygdala, the emotional processing center of your brain, tends to be slightly more attuned to negative emotions because they’re often a bit more intense than positive ones. “If you never apologize or admit that you’re wrong and make things right, your partner will accrue a host of negative memories related to being unfairness and injustice,” says Dr. Tatkin. “That will break the relationship.” Avoid these mistakes after fighting with your significant other.