5 Ways to Hurt A Relationship: Avoiding the Pitfalls

There are many effective ways to meet people these days; through friends, on internet dating sites, through clubs/sports teams, and of course through speed dating.

Entering a relationship is often exhilarating and filled with the promise of a brighter future. However, sustaining a healthy and fulfilling relationship is not merely about finding “the one” or expecting instant perfection. Real-life relationships require effort, self-awareness, and continuous growth. While there are many ways to nurture a relationship, there are also several pitfalls that can harm or even destroy it. In this blog post, we’ll explore five common ways people inadvertently hurt their relationships, along with their potential consequences.

1. Being Defensive

When we become defensive in a relationship, we inadvertently sabotage effective communication with our partners. The fear of being wrong or admitting our mistakes can lead us to close ourselves off emotionally. Instead of fostering an environment where both partners can express their concerns openly and honestly, defensiveness prevents true intimacy from flourishing. Over time, this can breed resentment and create emotional distance, ultimately weakening the bond.

Potential Consequences:

  • Poor communication and misunderstanding
  • Resentment and emotional distance
  • Lack of emotional intimacy

2. Avoiding True Commitment

Commitment is a cornerstone of any successful relationship. Expressing love through words is meaningful, but it must be accompanied by actions that reflect genuine commitment. Avoiding or delaying discussions about the future of the relationship can lead to confusion and insecurity for both partners. Uncertainty about the level of commitment can erode trust and create emotional instability.

Potential Consequences:

  • Insecurity and doubt
  • Trust issues
  • Emotional instability

3. Allowing Anger to Rule

Anger is a natural emotion, but how we express it can significantly impact our relationships. When we lash out in anger, say hurtful things, or threaten to leave the relationship, we inflict lasting wounds. Often, this behavior is a result of unresolved personal issues or a disproportionate reaction to the situation. Learning to manage and express anger constructively is essential for a healthy relationship.

Potential Consequences:

  • Emotional scars
  • Deterioration of trust
  • Erosion of self-esteem

4. Selfishness and Self-Absorption

A successful relationship requires empathy and selflessness. When we prioritize our needs and desires over those of our partner, it creates an imbalanced dynamic. Lack of empathy can lead to dismissive or critical behavior, making our partner feel unheard and unimportant. True love involves giving and nurturing, rather than focusing solely on personal satisfaction.

Potential Consequences:

  • Feelings of neglect
  • Reduced emotional connection
  • Diminished satisfaction in the relationship

5. Guardedness and Detachment

As we accumulate life experiences, it’s common for our emotional walls to grow taller and thicker. Past disappointments and defensive habits can lead to guardedness, preventing us from fully engaging in a relationship. Healthy relationships thrive on intimacy and vulnerability. When we withhold our true selves or expect our partners to guess our needs, we hinder emotional connection.

Potential Consequences:

  • Emotional distance
  • Misunderstandings and unmet needs
  • Stagnation in the relationship

Navigating the Path to a Healthy Relationship

Recognizing these five common pitfalls is the first step toward building a healthier and more fulfilling relationship. Relationships require open communication, self-awareness, and a willingness to address personal issues constructively. Instead of inadvertently hurting our relationships, we can choose to nurture and strengthen them, fostering love, trust, and mutual growth.


  • Gottman, J. M., & Levenson, R. W. (1999). What predicts change in marital interaction over time? A study of alternative models. Family Process, 38(2), 143-158.
  • Clark, M. S., & Lemay, E. P. (2010). Close relationships. In S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., Vol. 2, pp. 898-940). John Wiley & Sons.