Sometimes when we are upset with the one we love, we behave in negative ways to show our displeasure. If you are engaging in any of the activities listed below, your relationship is in trouble, and you both need to make it better. Beware of the following behaviors:
1. Punishing your partner daily. This means never letting your partner forget that he or she was totally out of line for doing whatever tweaked you. You are the self-appointed judge, jury and executioner. This can create damage that cannot be undone.
2. Being verbally abusive. Name-calling, yelling, blaming, shaming and foul language are all abusive actions. Belittling your partner in public is another good way to make things worse and push someone out of your life.
3. Avoiding your partner. This might include sleeping in a separate room, hanging out with friends instead of your mate, and working too much. After a while, your partner will get the message that you don't want to be with him or her.
4. Withholding affection -- even during sex. Staying cold and cut off is a great way to make the other person feel confused and rejected and wonder why he or she is with you.
5. Never complimenting your partner or saying "I love you." Without emotional validation, first we question our mate, then we start to question ourselves, and then our self-esteem erodes away until we believe that we are not good enough, and we become an emotional punching bag.
6. Becoming an addict or alcoholic. When you use substances, you are never on the same emotional or mental level as your partner, which makes it almost impossible to connect. Your actions will become more and more selfish, and your lover will become a hostage instead of a mate.
7. Being dishonest. Lying, cheating, and stealing -- then blaming your partner for your behavior. Making him or her wrong, no matter what, and never admitting you are wrong or saying you are sorry. When there's no trust, nothing can grow.
8. Keeping your partner separate from the rest of your life. Not introducing him or her to co-workers or friends and keeping family visits to a minimum. Being cold and aloof at gatherings. This always sends a message of disconnection.
9. Being emotionally unavailable. If your other half is having a bad day, and you are uncaring -- or you blow it off and tell him or her to "get over it" -- that kind of insensitivity will send an "I'm done" message.
10. Being disagreeable when you disagree. This includes arguing with contempt, interrupting often or not letting your partner share his or her feelings. By continually hijacking the conversation, you can derail almost any relationship.
How you behave is your choice. Just know that negative actions will put your relationship on shaky ground. Drop the reactions and meanness, and if you want to save your connection, start being nice. It really doesn't take that much effort.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author, most recently, of "100 Ways to Boost Your Self-Confidence -- Believe in Yourself and Others Will Too." E-mail him at Barton(at)BartonGoldsmith.com. Follow his insights daily on Twitter (at)bartongoldsmith.)
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)
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