Over the years, through our coaching practice, Getting Back to Happy course, and live events, Marc and I have worked with thousands of individuals and couples looking to fix their failing relationships, and we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make this happen.
Whether you’re working to fix your marriage, a dating relationship, or a friendship, there are lots of little things you can do to keep your relationship on track. And since we’ve recently covered many of these healthy relationship strategies on our blog, today we’re going to take a quick look at the flip-side – the most common toxic behaviors that tear relationships apart.
Truth be told, most failing and failed relationships suffer from the same four basic behavioral issues…
In the video clip below, recorded live at our annual “Think Better, Live Better” conference, Marc and I unveil some incredibly common toxic behaviors we’ve witnessed over and over again in people’s relationships. Honestly, whenever a new client or student mentions the fact that they’re having some relationship trouble, we can almost always point to one of these behaviors as the root cause.
Toxic Behaviors that Tear Relationships Apart
Note: If you’d like attend next year’s “Think Better, Live Better 2017” conference on February 18-19 in South Florida, sign up here to be notified when (discounted) early bird tickets go on sale.
Once you understand the toxic behaviors, remember…
The way we treat people we disagree with is a report card on what we’ve learned about love, compassion, acceptance and kindness.
Differences of opinion (even major ones) don’t destroy relationships – it’s how two people cope with their inevitable differences that counts.
Sadly, some people waste years in a relationship trying to change the other person’s mind, even though this usually can’t be done, because many of the disagreements they have with this person are rooted in fundamental differences of opinion, personality, or values. By fighting over these deep seeded differences, all they succeed in doing is wasting their time and running their relationship into the ground.
So how do people in healthy relationships deal with issues that can’t be resolved?
They accept one another as is. These people understand that problems are an inevitable part of any long-term relationship, in the same way chronic physical difficulties are inevitable as we grow older and wiser. These problems are like a weak knee or a bad back – we may not want these problems, but we’re able to cope with them, to avoid situations that irritate them, and to develop strategies that help us deal with them.
Psychologist Dan Wile said it best in his book After the Honeymoon: “When choosing to engage yourself in a long-term relationship, you will inevitably be choosing a particular set of unsolvable problems that you’ll be grappling with for the next 10, 20 or 50 years.”
Bottom line: The best relationships are the best not because they have always been the happiest, but because they have stayed strong through the mightiest of storms.
Therefore, it’s crucial to understand and alleviate the toxic behaviors discussed in the “Think Better, Live Better” video clip above. And then consciously remind yourself that…
Acceptance of one another is of vital importance to every relationship.
In the end, how you make others feel about themselves, says a whole lot about you. So treat people right. Your love, compassion, acceptance and kindness are gifts you can always afford to give.
Please let us know…
What toxic relationship behaviors and circumstances do you try to avoid?
Anything else to share?
We would love to hear from YOU in the comments sections below.
And we would also love to see you at the next annual “Think Better, Live Better” conference in February of 2017.
PS: If you do decide to sign up to be notified when “Think Better, Live Better” 2017 tickets go on sale, you will be automatically qualified for both discounted Standard tickets and discounted VIP tickets. Note: you can watch two more short clips from our 2016 event here and here.
Photo by: Hoa Quach
M&A, your Think Better conference where the video was filmed was amazing! I was nervous about attending it alone, but I’m so glad I did. It was such a supportive environment. Also, the self-inquiry tools you coached us through continue to make a world of difference in my life and relationships. As it relates to toxic relationship behaviors, I’ve been working on eliminating your first point – condemnation of an entire person’s character. In the past I had the tendency to assign labels to people — labels like weird, selfish, etc. Now I realize that a person be can act a certain way sometimes, without being ‘only’ that way. Everyone has their ups and downs.
Thank you for the valuable lessons. And I hope to catch your next conference in Florida too. 🙂
Gosh, has your comment spoken to me this morning. Attaching labels to an entire person, based on one or two characteristics.
Thank you. Live and learn every day.
Angel Chernoff says
Kelly, I’m so happy to hear that you’ve successfully implemented some of the tools we gave you at Think Better, Live Better this past year. Well done! It was a pleasure meeting you at our conference, and I’m looking for to seeing you again next February. 🙂
Daniel Bevels says
Excellent video clip! Really straight forward advice. This is stuff we know, but we so easily forget. I especially liked your first point. I have a tendency to get carried away with how I think about people. If someone upset me in the past, I hold a subconscious grudge… I know I do… and it certainly doesn’t benefit my ability to communicate.
Many great pointers. And I signed up to receive more info about your 2017 event once the tickets go on sale. It’s cold in upstate NY in February, so perhaps I’ll escape for a long weekend with my wife and attend your event together.
Angel Chernoff says
Yes, I hope to meet you in February, Daniel. 🙂
Love it Angel and Marc! When my inbox dings with a new posting from you guys, I know I’m in for a treat. This post and it’s video gives me a lot to think about. Certainly, I sometimes avoid responsibility in my relationships. When things aren’t right, I default to blaming instead on owning the situation and doing my part, for my own sanity.
Also, personally, I try to avoid dishonesty in my relationships. If I can’t tell the truth for some reason, or I can’t figure out what the truth is, I know something needs to change.
Dawn Dansby says
Thank you both very much. I have been reading some articles and have found them to be very helpful, positive, and clever. Bedtime now but I look forward to reading more. Lots of gratitude for your help and lots of love to you both.
As a self-employed seamstress / alterations person, I get a wide range of customers. I very recently told 2 older ladies (Note: I’m 76, so am old also) that they would need to find another seamstress, because they were constantly verbally sniping at each other. The shorter one felt it necessary (3 different times!!) to try to assure me that they had been friends for 40 years and that this was their way of teasing each other. I explained to them that their behavior towards each other reminded me very strongly of the dysfunctional family from which I escaped 58 years ago, and that the taller one reminded me very strongly of my female biological parent, who had narcissistic personality disorder and was a maniacal neat freak. And no, their remarks to each other did not sound like teasing; they were hurtful to each other. The tall one made most of the nasty remarks, and the short one seemed like a doormat in accepting the remarks the taller one dished out in a pretty steady stream. I’d much rather have peace and quiet in my shop; I will not miss the small profit I would have made from their business.
On the other hand, some of my regular customers are always pleasant to deal with and I try to compliment their friendly attitudes. Peace and hope to all from Elva
Eileen Light says
Excellent advice. I have learned when someone does not respond to me when I believe they should, to step back a bit and not jump to conclusions. Normally I would learn they had an unforeseen problem of which I knew nothing about. Giving a benefit of the doubt and not jumping to conclusions has saved me an immense amount of trouble and words which were better left unsaid. It has taught me to become more patient and understanding of people. Love this post.
YES! So much of our arguments are episodes of assumptions trailing one after another. It is hard to do because it involves control and slowing down and maybe making a fluid argument more like a slow-motion robot, but to catch each idea that comes your way and ask yourself if your immediate response and reaction assumes something that maybe isn’t true, or that there is some detail left out that would make your partner’s point of view make sense to you instead of making no sense…to do this can help to de-fuse trouble. Maybe you ask a question to help clarify, instead of going ahead based on your assumptions and hitting back with something that just keeps trouble rolling and a bad ending a guarantee.
Angel Chernoff says
Well stated, Eileen. Well stated! 🙂
Hi, and thanks for this! When we choose to thoughtfully look at our behaviors vs. just assuming everyone else’s is wrong, we grow! Taking responsibility is a big one! After 5 years or counseling after my marriage broke up – this was a major lesson I learned. There were certainly issues, and some were deal breakers…however learning my role in it (i.e., accepting it and shutting down – the silent treatment) vs. making all the issues about my spouse, provided much needed room for growth!
selina amegbor says
I found these tips helpful. I used to blame my partner and complain almost about everything, as if I was an angel. So this has given me some perspective. I know I can do my part too. Thanks a lot. Keep doing the good job you two do.
Thank you for your posts and videos, I really appreciate them. Look forward to more lessons on life and relationships from you.
Another great post from you two. I have benefited greatly from your blog and the book. Keep up the good work.
In my opinion, another toxic behaviour that people indulge in is setting high expectations of what they would do for the other person or making false promises, then not living up to them and blaming the other person for forcing them to do certain things in the relationship. Another worse form of the silent treatment is to block out the other person when they are upset by ignoring calls or telling them they complain too much and never solving the core issues. I think that if you cannot handle a person at their worst then you don’t deserve them at their best either.
Angel Chernoff says
Excellent additions to the list, Divya. And thank you or buying our book and supporting our work. 🙂
Unfortunately I have seen by far some of the worst and rudest behaviors. While trying to have a conversation he picks up the phone or laptop and literally says “you don’t need my eyes you have my ears.” Or another is when he ends his sentences with “if u don’t like it, too bad “. The list goes on with rude and hateful behavior. And this is what I now try to avoid in my relationships.
Thank you for your advice Angel and Marc. It is true that we are unable to change another’s behaviour and we can only change ourselves and you provide some excellent tools to do so. I’d like to have the tools to leave and be ok by myself. Sometimes there just is no relationship in a marriage.
My wife sent me the link to this Toxic Behavior video. These are 4 valuable items, and while I disagree with the term “hate” in the “Hateful Gestures” toxic behavior, all of this is useful and needs to be watched and worked around or avoided as much as possible, in my opinion, if we are to have good relationships. My wife and I are drawing up a divorce agreement at the moment after a 5-year relationship. It is my 2nd marriage, and her 3rd. Although she and my first wife are quite different from each other, they share some similarities. They are both strong and are both quite sure of themselves. My first wife, of 17 years, once told me during an argument we were having “I’m always right.”
My current wife, who unlike my first wife was a person who appealed to me tremendously immediately when we first met, making me feel as if I had found a soul mate, also is practically unable to accept responsibility for any of our troubles. While she hasn’t said that she is always right, she has said that “there is nothing wrong with me”.
Nobody is perfect, but those who can only admit to that “in theory” and who can never seem to be able to admit that something they actually did was wrong, or to apologize for anything specifically (especially when their partner regularly admits to being wrong and regularly apologizes sincerely for xyz, and not “I apologize BUT” types of apologies but a real apology, which should help prepare the ground for the other partner to also be able to accept blame, to feel secure that they are not going to look like the only one with faults) are falling into one of these classic 4 toxic behaviors, the “it’s not me, it’s the other guy” behavior.
I think my wife sent me this clip to tell me “look at what you are always doing to me”. As the Marc and Angel say in this presentation, THIS is the wrong attitude. Watching the video, we should strive to ask ourselves: am I guilty of any of this? Because YOU ARE. Like it or not. At least some of the time. You might be guilty of it less often than your partner, but BOTH of you have work to do. BOTH of you. We don’t win any prizes for being the one who is less guilty. We have to face OUR errors, fix them as best we can, and help the other to recognize their errors if they need that, so that they can fix them too. As best they can.
Angel Chernoff says
Excellent points, Mark. Thank you for sharing this with us.
dan clark says
Your articles are always very helpful. I’ve been to relationship counselors that did nothing but take my money and tell me to sit on my hands and wait for something to come along. Your articles and teachings, on the other hand, provide useful guidance. Thank you.
Angel Chernoff says
You’re welcome, Dan. I’m glad we’ve been able to assist you in some small way.