4 Toxic Behaviors That Are Ruining Your Relationship

4 Toxic Behaviors That Are Ruining Your Relationship

4. Contempt: Painful Insults, Sarcasm, Eye Rolling, and Acting Superior

Contempt conveys a sense of superiority and often makes the recipient feel stupid or less than the person displaying contempt. Rolling your eyes at your partner or making sarcastic comments to mock your partner are classic displays of contempt.

Other signs of contempt include insults, name-calling, hostile humor (usually at the expense of your partner), using a condescending tone of voice, and sneering. We wrote an article called The Forbidden Five: Five Of The Worst Things To Say To Your Partner if you would like to learn more.

Contempt is the most damaging of the toxic behaviors in relationships because it destroys the fondness and admiration between a couple. Contempt has even been linked to illness…the more contempt a person experiences from their significant other, the more likely they are to get sick! So think twice before you marry that sarcastic boyfriend.

Related: The #1 Way to Avoid Contempt in Your Relationship

The Antidote:


We have a tendency to forget all manners when talking to the ones we love and treat them in ways we would never treat a co-worker or stranger. This is because we have a different level of comfort with loved ones and they also have the ability to trigger us in ways that strangers cannot.

That being said, if anyone deserves respect and polite treatment, it is your loved ones. Speak to your partner the way you would speak to your boss. Be polite and respectful, choose your words wisely, say things in a way that leads to them feeling safe to open up rather than feeling attacked and defensive. In short, act like the most important relationship in your life depends on the way you speak to your partner because, well, it does.

Ok, these are definitely present in my relationship. Is it doomed?!

If you read this article and had a moment of panic as you realized you and/or your partner does one or all of these, don’t worry, not all is lost. It’s possible to change your habits now that you are aware of how detrimental they actually are to the health and future success of your relationship.

Make a commitment to change these toxic behaviors and replace them with more adaptive ways of arguing and communicating.

Start first by catching yourself in the behavior and acknowledge that you are doing it. Find a way that your partner can point out if he/she notices you engaging in any of the 4 Horsemen and give him/her permission to tell you in a loving and helpful way. Work on the phrasing of how you would like to receive this feedback with your partner so that you do not become defensive when you hear it.

As you become more aware of the presence of these behaviors, brainstorm with your partner (and if need be a couples therapist) on alternative ways to express yourself that are less detrimental to the relationship. To get in-depth help changing these toxic behaviors in relationships and more,  click to schedule a no-cost 30-minute online consultation with Couples Learn 

This increased awareness and commitment to eliminating the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse from your relationship can make the difference between ending up “happily ever after” or feeling trapped in a bad marriage.

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Written by Dr. Sarah Schewitz Originally appeared in Couples Learn 

Do you want to know if you’re becoming toxic? Then you may like this interesting video:

Toxic Behaviors That Are Ruining Your Relationship pin
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