25 toxic habits that are hurting your relationships

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Relationships can be tricky, and they're definitely hard work. It's important to put effort into not just your romantic life, but also your relationships with your kids, parents, siblings, extended family, friends and co-workers. Sometimes, however, our emotions can get the best of us and we slip.

You don't have to be a totally toxic person to have toxic behaviors, and many of us have some seriously bad habits that we need to unlearn. If you find that your relationships are not where you want them to be, it could be that you're unintentionally hurting them with your own actions. These 25 habits are very common and very damaging.


Only talking about yourself

It's important to show an interest in others; it shows that you do care about them and their lives outside of their relevance to you. If you turn the conversation back to yourself frequently, try to hold back and listen more. Asking questions or focusing on the other person's feelings can help you learn how to make small talk like a pro.


Insulting others

Even in the heat of the moment, it's not OK to hurt someone's feelings. It's not just explicitly insulting other people that's extremely toxic - doing so in the form of jokes or backhanded compliments is hurtful too. A comment like "I love how you just don't care what other people think" is just one of the phrases you didn't know are seriously rude. By saying these things, you can cause a lot of hurt and self-doubt in others, and you'll also find that people don't want to spend time with someone who makes them feel bad about themselves.



Gaslighting in relationships can be pretty common, particularly with romantic partners. A subtle form of abuse, gaslighting is when a person tries to create doubt about another person or group's reality. Most of the time, this is done in order to deny abusive behavior, but people also use it to distort reality to fit their own narrative. If you start questioning your own memory or perception of events - sometimes even your own sanity - when talking to someone, you could be getting gaslighted.


Spreading gossip

Trust is an important part of any relationship, and it's an ultimate betrayal of that trust if you're sharing information about someone with others that they may not want you to. Even worse is when a person exaggerates or lies about others in an effort to hurt their reputation or credibility. Gossip can turn back on you for the worse, but there are plenty of good reasons to stop gossiping.


Giving unsolicited advice

No matter how well-intentioned it is, people around you may get seriously annoyed if you frequently give out advice when they didn't ask for it. This can come off as patronizing or interfering, and can prevent a healthy relationship in which they'd ever come to you for advice themselves.


Not apologizing

It's important to take responsibility for your actions, especially when they've hurt other people. A genuine apology would demonstrate that you're willing to face the consequences of your actions and make an effort to do better. This can go a long way in helping others trust you and your intentions moving forward.


Holding grudges

In addition to knowing how to apologize, it's important to know how to accept an apology. When someone has expressed regret for wronging you, it's a good idea to let things go, whether or not you want to continue having a relationship with them. Holding grudges is not only detrimental to your relationships with others, but it can be quite harmful to your own mental state too.


Emotional blackmail

Guilting other people in order to get what you want is not a good way of, well, getting what you want. It might work, but it can cause serious resentment on the other person's part and make them less willing to be around you or do things for you on their own.



Most people find themselves in a situation where they must lie once in a while, particularly when it comes to children, but you don't want to make it a habit. If you're constantly telling small fibs or making up huge lies, you completely undermine any trust in your relationships and the people around you will learn not to trust anything you say.


Minimizing or invalidating others' feelings

When someone else is talking to you about something that has upset them, you want to make them feel safe and validated. If you tell them that they're overreacting or try and minimize their issues, it can be seriously discouraging for them or make them feel worse. You don't have to agree with someone to acknowledge that their feelings are valid, and trying to make others feel that they're not will only make them feel they're not cared for.


Not respecting boundaries

Boundaries are vital to the health of any relationship. Whether it's physical boundaries or something less tangible - such as the amount of time spent together or asking before showing up at someone's house - you should respect the boundaries that other people have in place. It shows that you care about the other person's needs. If you constantly disrespect boundaries, it demonstrates an entitlement to others' time, space or even person, which is highly damaging to your relationship, as well as their sense of safety around you.


Always having to be right

It's OK to be wrong sometimes, and admitting it can go a long way in showing your respect for others and their points of view. People who always have to be right can come off as know-it-alls or simply sour others' view of them by making others feel unheard.



If someone shares good news or tells a great story, don't try to immediately share your own even better news or a more interesting story. It's important to be happy for other people's successes, and if you're constantly coming off as trying to seem like the most interesting or smartest person in the room, other people will find you draining and needlessly competitive.


Being late all the time

Another way that you show other people respect is by showing respect for their time. If you've got plans with a friend or family member, you want to make sure you show up where and when you said you'd show up. Making other people wait on you constantly is not only a very rude thing to do, but it can cause resentment and give you a reputation of unreliability.


Acting on your envy

Envy is a natural, understandable emotion. If someone else has something else that you wish you had, that's alright, but it's important to keep your feelings to yourself. Don't minimize other people's accomplishments or treat them badly when you see that they're doing well. Recognize the hard work they put in to attain that success, and maybe even see what you can learn from them.


Constant negativity

Everyone prefers to be around positive people, and not only are your negative and pessimistic thoughts terrible for your own self-esteem, but they can be very draining to others who have to hear it. If you're constantly making negative comments or being pessimistic about various situations, others will find you to be a total downer and start to avoid spending time with you.



It's important to be proud of your abilities and accomplishments, but there's a difference between demonstrating confidence and straight-out bragging. Not only do you come off as trying to put down those around you or make yourself seem superior, but it can also be insensitive to those who haven't had the same good fortune as you.



A common phenomenon in modern dating, ghosting is when a person gives someone else a total silent treatment, disappearing from their life without explanation. Not only is this a terrible thing to do to dates, but it's also not fair if you're doing it to friends, acquaintances and family. Unless you're afraid for your own safety, it's best if you communicate your boundaries or needs - even if they mean ending a relationship - instead of doing something extremely hurtful and confusing.


Constant criticism

You may feel like you're helping, but if you're frequently criticizing someone, you're only putting them down and making them feel terrible about themselves - which is not conducive to self-improvement. Constant criticism will affect a person's self-esteem, as well as greatly damage your relationship with them as you become a person they do not feel good being around.



A big part of trust is reliability. When you keep your word and your promises, other people know they can count on you. If you're constantly letting others down by not following through on promises, they'll trust you less and less, and a reputation for unreliability will definitely create some distance.


Always needing to be in control

No one likes a person who constantly has to be the boss of others or insists on making all the decisions for a group. Let go of the reins once in a while, and let others take over, whether it's in doing household chores, picking out a restaurant during a night out or planning an event. It shows that you respect other people's abilities and ideas too.


Not being supportive

Being supportive is one of the best ways to endear others to you. Whether it's emotional or physical support in a crisis or even just day-to-day, when you help others get by in life, they'll do the same for you. If others find that you're never there for them in their time of need, they will look to you less and less for support, and it will often turn them away from you entirely.


Excluding others

Unless a person is abusive or otherwise harmful to you or others, excluding people is a form of relational aggression, a type of aggression in which a person causes harm to another by intentionally damaging their relationships or social status. This kind of social exclusion often has psychological effects and can be very damaging to a person. Many people often feel the need to encourage the social ostracism of another because they feel threatened or envious, so question your own intentions. If you just don't want to be around someone, you should communicate this as politely as possible.


Being judgmental

One big way you can be supportive is by making others feel accepted. People don't like to feel judged for their appearance, decisions, career, financial situation or relationships, and they tend to avoid those who make them feel so. If you're worried about someone, it's better to wait until they give you an opening to say something - unless you feel their life is in danger - as being judgmental will only turn them away, helping no one.


Only being there for the good times

People notice who's there for them during the rough times and who's just a fair-weather friend. If you're only around for the good times, you're not only seen as superficial but it keeps your relationships superficial too. Lending others support in their times of need - whether it's a hand, a shoulder or an ear - will help you be a better friend and a kinder person.

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