For anyone who seems to be experiencing the same relationship problems time and time again, it can help to take a step back and see if they have any habits that make someone toxic to date. We all have a few things that make us quirky, or difficult to be with. Not everyone is the best at communicating, for example, or naturally great at settling conflicts. And that's OK.
It's important not to feel bad about "shortcomings" such as these, but to simply recognize them, and work on them whenever possible. "In most cases, toxic dating habits lead to unhealthy relationships filled with co-dependence and frustration," Jonathan Bennett, relationship and dating expert at Double Trust Dating, tells Bustle. "And, ultimately they lead to breakups and the pattern repeats itself."
By recognizing which habits can lead to toxic situations, it'll be easier to avoid them and have healthier, long-term relationships. As Bennett says, "It’s possible to learn to date in a healthier way. In many cases, it requires an outside source to point out your patterns and help you change them. This could be a therapist, relationship coach, or even an honest friend."
For anyone recognizing toxic patterns in themselves, remain honest and open to change — and you may have happier relationships as a result. Here are a few toxic dating habits to avoid, according to experts.
1. Insisting On Doing Everything Together
It's common for new couples to want to spend all of their time together. And doing so more often than not is completely OK. But if one person expects their partner to drop everything and be by their side 24/7, it can quickly turn toxic.
"You might think you’re showing your commitment by wanting to spend all your time together," Bennett says. But it's important to spend a healthy amount of time apart, see friends, partake in hobbies, and so on.
"It’s normal and healthy to spend time apart and pursue independent interests, even when you really like someone," Bennett says.
2. Letting Jealousy Get In The Way
Jealousy can run rampant in the early days of a relationship, especially before a couple has officially defined what they are to each other. But it's important that neither person lets jealous thoughts get the best of them.
"Following ... jealous hunches with behaviors like accusations or snooping [is toxic]," clinical psychologist Dr. Helen Odessky tells Bustle. "It's natural to feel jealous once in a while, but if you follow those hunches with accusations or worse, snooping, you are creating a culture of mistrust in [the] relationship." And this is a toxic habit that can stick around for years to come.
3. Repeating The Same Hurtful Mistakes
If someone keeps repeating the same mistakes in their relationship, without even showing any effort or interest in changing, it's 100 percent going to become toxic.
For example, "if your partner has spoken with you on numerous occasions about the way some of your negative behaviors impact them, and yet you continue to engage in these behaviors, you might be bringing toxicity to a relationship," therapist Julie Williamson, LPC, NCC, RPT tells Bustle. "It may indicate a need for some outside help to address these habitual patterns." So don't be afraid to reach out to friends, or even a therapist.
4. Doting On Their Every Need
Plenty of folks think chivalry is sweet. But there's a big difference between being nice, planning date nights, or picking up the bill, and doting on a partner's every need.
"Though it is usually done with the best of intensions, it is not only a date-killer, but a relationship-buster ... [as it] results in both the caregiver and the care-receiver feeling resentful, isolated, and alone," Mark Borg Jr, PhD, a community psychologist and psychoanalyst, tells Bustle. "The very best remedy for this — and this is applicable in every relationship I see — is to start off the relationship, as near as possible to the first date, on a give-and-take basis."
When things are split 50/50 most of the time, it can help keep resentment from brewing.
5. Giving Up Their Own Interests
As mentioned above, it's unhealthy for one partner to expect their significant other to drop everything to hang out with them. But it's also unhealthy for them to forget about their own needs, too.
"If you find yourself always embracing your date’s interests and giving up your own, whether to impress [them] or simply because you have no strong convictions, it’s toxic and a sign of co-dependence," Bennett says. "Impress your date by being your authentic self, not by saying what you think [they want] to hear."
6. Keeping Score
If either partner is keeping track of who paid for what, who said what, or who was wrong, the relationship can become toxic. After all, "if one is living in the past they can't be in the present," clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Whatley, LMFT, tells Bustle. "This tends to become a balance sheet for who has made the most mistakes and how much they owe the partner for all of their mistakes." And that's not a healthy way to continue forward.
7. Dating Too Soon After A Breakup
Hopping back into the dating pool when you're still hung up on a past relationship is never a good idea. And neither is dating for the first time, before you're truly ready.
"If you have not done the work internally to make sure you are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for a relationship you might [not be ready] to date," Angel M. Hoodye, MS, LPCS, CART, owner of Flourishing Hope Counseling, tells Bustle.
It's important to take enough time to focus on yourself, and feel whole and happy as a single person — before trying to be a part of a relationship again.
8. Having Negative Thought Patterns
Not everyone can prevent negative thoughts from popping into their head. But for folks who are overwhelmed by negativity, it can start to impact their dating life.
"Negative thinking patterns ... can be toxic to relationships because it often means that the person is only seeing the negatives in life, they are often coming from a place of low self-worth within themselves, and they are seeing negative intentions in the things their partner does and says in their relationship," Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist, tells Bustle.
If this sounds familiar, it may help to speak with a therapist, and find ways to cope with negative thought patterns. By addressing them — and even overcoming them — it may result in healthier relationships going forward.
9. Constantly Playing "Devil's Advocate"
There's nothing wrong with having a healthy debate. But if one partner constantly plays the "devil's advocate," and disagrees with everything their partner says, it can quickly lead to a toxic situation.
"Being contrary at times when your partner might need validation, support, and agreement about things that are meaningful to them can make them defensive ... or unlikely to want to discuss things with you over time," relationship expert Weena Cullins, LCMFT, tells Bustle. "Acknowledging their frustration and their need for agreement at times is a good way to turn things around if you’ve been oppositional for too long in your communication with your partner."
10. Dishing Out The Silent Treatment
While it's OK to step away from heated arguments, it's important not to resort to the silent treatment — or any other passive aggressive way of "getting back" at a partner.
"Refusing to speak to your partner when you’re hurt, upset, or angry with them ... prevents both you and your partner from being able to work toward any resolutions.," Cullins says. "To turn things around, agree to try your best to begin communicating with your partner no more than 24 hours after an argument or fight."
This is a far better way to deal with heated emotions, and is something important to keep in mind going forward. "You may not feel completely ready to reconnect, but your partner will appreciate not being shut out with no other recourse than to move forward on your terms."
11. Not Paying Attention During Dates
As far as the earliest days of dating go, it's never a good idea to pay more attention to your phone than your date. "If your eyes are wandering all over the room, or you’re fiddling with your phone, your date will feel insulted and neglected," psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, PhD, tells Bustle. "Even if you’re nervous, concentrate on your date." This will help you get to know each other better, connect on a deeper level, and show that you're fully present.
Whether it's something small, like checking your phone, or something big, like spending too much time together, there are so many habits that can bring down a relationship, and make a person difficult to date. By being aware of them, though, you can overcome them and be a better partner going forward.