Happy Couples Avoid These 3 Toxic Behaviors, Says a Psychotherapist

Updated 08/24/17
toxic relationships
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While no relationship is perfect, there are damaging behaviors to steer clear of if you want a happy, healthy relationship with your partner. In a recent article for Verily, psychotherapist Jodee Virgo identifies the toxic actions and behaviors that happy couples refuse to engage with, painting an interesting picture of what a successful partnership looks like in the modern age. What follows is a list of the three most surprising behaviors happy couples avoid, in Virgo's words.

Focus on the Negative

Happy couples unknowingly operate according to the "5:1" ratio, as developed by John Gottman, MD, author of the best-selling book, The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work. This simply means that happy couples have five times more positive interactions than negative ones and generally focus less on what's wrong in the relationship. "If you find yourself hyper-focusing on negativity in your relationship, check in on the health of [it]," writes Virgo. "You can … load up on positivity by investing in lots of quality time, acts of service, affectionate touch, and little gifts to your partner throughout the day."

Expect Your Partner to Read Your Mind

"I hear it all the time: If he loved me, he would know what I want. I shouldn't have to ask. He should know what he did wrong," writes Virgo. "Healthy couples share how they feel with one another and do not expect their partner to know what they feel." This tip all boils down to the holy grail of relationship advice: open and honest communication. How can you expect your significant other to meet your expectations if you don't make them clear in the first place?

Avoid Difficult Topics

Couples who avoid the highly sensitive or triggering topics can end up treading in passive-aggressive waters or can end up disintegrating the relationship altogether. "We have two options when confronted with hard relationship topics: We can avoid them and hope that they magically disappear, or we can lean into them, practice being authentic, and deal with what happens," explains Virgo. "Healthy couples … make the time to discuss [sensitive issues]. It's not always easy, but it is necessary."

What behaviors do you and your partner avoid to stay happy and healthy? Share your tips below!

This post was originally published on November 4, 2016, and has been updated by Sacha Strebe.

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