No matter what type of relationship you have with someone, there are ways you should treat others and expectations for how you are to be treated in return. Certain behaviors can weaken relationships, cause stress and create a lack of trust that can be difficult to earn back.
To cultivate the most important relationships in your life, you must first recognize what is appropriate in terms of boundary lines.
Having time to yourself is important for self-reflection and decompression, according to a study commissioned by the American Counseling Association. When you live with someone, whether that person is a parent, a sibling, a roommate or a significant other, not giving them the time they need to grow individually can put stress on your relationship. If someone you live with starts showing signs of annoyance — or picks a fight for no reason — this might be an indication that they need some space to think and relax on their own.
You know how your mom used to hang your kindergarten pictures on the fridge even if she had no idea whether it was a stick or a spaceship? That's just one way parents can have better relationships with their kids because the excitement shown can make a child feel really good. When someone comes to you with exciting news, be excited for them. It will show the person you genuinely care. Don’t try to one-up them with an exciting story from your day, and don’t belittle their excitement just because the news might not interest you.
It’s one thing if you ask to borrow something from your roommate, but if you start going to his or her closet when they aren’t around, their sense of trust might diminish. If the door to your roommate’s or sibling’s bedroom is closed, or if you notice them starting to get territorial over their things, consider wearing something of your own. Asking before you borrow clothes is one fashion rule that will never go out of style.
It doesn’t matter if this person is a stranger to you or someone you care deeply about. Criticizing someone else’s body is not only rude, but it is harmful to his or her mental health. It’s not your business if you think someone is too skinny, too heavy, too tall or too short. Even well-meaning comments on someone’s body might not come off the way you want them to and there are many compliments you can give that have nothing to do with a person’s appearance. Instead of being negative about body image, the National Eating Disorders Association recommends that people help others develop a healthy body image and thus increase their self-esteem.
Whether you’re dating long distance, someone is away on vacation or even if you live with the person, constant calls wrack nerves. The person you keep calling may start to feel like he or she can’t do anything or go anywhere without you interrupting them.
There are many ways your cell phone can affect your health, and it can affect the health of your relationship, too. Picking up your partner’s phone to read messages or go on their social media might translate as a lack of trust in them. If you’re concerned about something on their phone, voice your thoughts instead of snooping.
Not everyone uses social media the same way. While you might be accustomed to posting a lot about your personal life, someone you’re close with might be more private. A good habit to get into when posting images or statuses involving someone else is to ask before you post. This way, you can avoid embarrassing someone, or worse, causing a fight that could harm your relationship. That is just one of the many ways you are being rude online.
Clingy isn’t cute. Depending on someone more than you depend on yourself tells the other person that you might not be able to assume responsibilities on your own or that you can’t make personal decisions without them. That includes being too financially dependent. Requesting help is one thing, but assuming one person is going to be able to fulfill your expectations as well as what they expect of themselves is a lot to ask.
Though you and your partner might have a lot in common, you are not the same person. What motivates your partner to succeed might not be the same thing that motivates you. If you are regularly focused on whether or not your relationship is working or if your partner is happy, when are you setting aside time to think about whether or not you are making yourself happy? Take time out of your day or week to focus on the relationship you have with yourself and what inspires you to succeed and feel at peace.
Parenting is an extraordinary responsibility, and it’s not an easy task. Getting judged by other parents about what you’re doing wrong with your kids makes it even more difficult. If you choose to use formula rather than breastfeed, that’s OK. If your friend wants to let his children watch TV longer than you let your children watch TV, that’s OK. Shaming people about the decisions they make as parents can heighten anxiety and lead parents to believe they aren’t doing enough for their children. Mothers and fathers aren’t intentionally making mistakes; they are learning as they go. Let them do so, and offer help if asked, and the children will grow up with wonderful life lessons they learned from their parents and even some great cooking hacks, too.
Take it from Theodore Roosevelt when he said that comparison is the thief of joy. Promoting individuality and celebrating what makes a person special empowers them and establishes feelings of mutual respect. Comparing someone you know to someone you think is better, even someone like a famous celebrity, generates feelings of competition rather than caring.
This kind of goes with the constant comparisons. You may not even realize you’re doing it, but if you make persistent comments about someone’s looks, how they act or bad habits you think they need to ditch, they might be feeling like they have to change how they are just to make you happy. Some change is healthy, but asking (or even hinting) that a person changes the very characteristics that make them who they are might result in passive aggressiveness and tension that is difficult to resolve.
Hair gets everywhere. Your husband finds it between his toes when he walks across the carpet. Your daughter finds a strand in her social studies book. It’s on the couch. It’s in drawers. And it most definitely is clogging the shower drains. For the ladies — and men — with long hair, cleaning the drain and vacuuming should be a regular routine to avoid a hairy situation in some of the dirtiest places in your home.
Snooping on what people do in their personal life is not the best way to foster trusting relationships. Private life is just that — private — and how people choose to act during that time is up to them. Asking too many questions or construing your own conclusions based only on what you see is harmful to people who have confidence in you. It's especially an office etiquette mistake you should avoid.
In-laws, parents, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends: There is such a thing as needing time and space, and if you’ve stayed long past the limits of what is planned or expected, you are probably getting on someone’s nerves. If you are invited over for the weekend, for lunch or for the night, respect that time frame. It's just one of the many ways to be a good guest.
Everyone is on their own schedule, following their own life plans and reaching their own goals. If that doesn’t yet involve marriage and children — or won’t involve those plans at all — that isn’t your business to put your nose in. Being judgemental about when someone will choose to marry or when they’ll have children discredits the interesting and fulfilling things they are doing with their life. It could be a major way parents don't know they are offending their children.
Sometimes, taking yourself on dates and learning to love yourself is more important than getting attached to someone in a romantic relationship. That said, asking someone why they are single is not a compliment to their character or to their looks. Rather, it is actually a question you didn't know is rude to ask.
Oftentimes, it’s constructive to have another person to help you come to terms with problems you’re facing. It’s hard having to work through certain dilemmas on your own. Confiding in someone for advice or to talk through emotional situations is one thing, though. It’s another thing if you enter into a new relationship for the sole purpose of having someone to dump all your issues on. Make sure the person you’re in a relationship with doesn’t feel like the only reason you’re with them is to use them for support.
Remember when you were a kid and breaking a pinky promise was serious business? Breaking promises in adulthood is too, especially when it becomes routine. The more promises you break, the more someone will begin to feel that you don’t care or that you’re not taking them seriously enough.
Relationships are a two-way highway. While asking for an occasional favor can be a normal part of a healthy relationship, when you begin relying on someone else always doing things for you is when the situation gets frustrating. It errs on the side of dependency and might result in that person beginning to avoid you.
Maybe your parents did your dishes when you were younger, but it’s not their job if you’re an adult living with them. If you have roommates, they probably don’t want your belongings all over the communal space. And if you’re married or living with your significant other, they probably don’t want to be picking clothes up off the floor or washing the microwave after your soup exploded all over it. Sharing space with someone means sharing the workload when it comes to keeping that space clean, otherwise, you might have more than just laundry to sort through.
If you live with another person, you must respect that they have personal lives and daily habits different from your own. Just because you go to bed at 3 a.m. doesn’t mean your roommate who has work at 6 a.m. goes to bed at the same time as you. As an example, inviting friends over for a dinner party might mean there will be clanging about the kitchen, laughter, music and chatter that usually only gets louder with alcohol. This could easily anger a roommate who is trying to sleep or enjoy a night of peace.
Passive-aggressive behaviors include avoiding problems, making backhanded comments and placing blame on others all while evading conversation. They can also be a sign that someone is trying to gain the upper hand in a relationship. If you don’t tell someone when something is wrong or when something is bothering you, they can’t read your mind, and they can’t fix the problem for you. It can lead to daily frustration and will only make confrontation more difficult later on.
It could be something as large as an elephant in the room or something as small as a squirrel. Either way, not vocalizing obvious issues — no matter how small the concern — will lead to bottled-up emotions that could come out in an explosive argument. Sometimes, talking isn’t all that easy, but addressing problems sooner rather than later is a good way to promote openness and understanding. Figuring out how to manage certain relationships takes patience and understanding. If you still feel that people close to you are sabotaging your personal life, ask yourself if they have any of these toxic habits.
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