- Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
- She says the way people handle personal relationships can affect their professional life by either positively or negatively impacting their mental strength.
- Bad habits like constantly seeking reassurance, distrusting or spying on your partner, or complaining about your partner to other people can eat away at your mental health and self-confidence.
- Your relationship with your partner plays a vital role in your mental strength. The way you communicate, the way you treat yourself, and the way you treat your partner can either help you build more mental muscle, or cause interactions that can drain you of the mental strength you need to be your best self in other aspects of life, including work.
- If you want to be mentally strong in both your personal and professional life, here are 10 things you should stop doing in relationships.
1. Changing who you are in an effort to be loved more
Changing your personality, abandoning your beliefs, and molding yourself to fit someone else never works in the long term.
A key component to mental strength is knowing your values — and living by them. Your internal beliefs must be in line with your external attitude. If you find yourself changing in effort to be liked, your mental muscles will slowly weaken as your beliefs that you aren't good enough get reinforced.
2. Hiding things you don't like about yourself
Whether you have a past you're not proud of or a shopping habit you're embarrassed by, hiding things about yourself takes a lot of effort. You'll never have a healthy relationship when you're covering your tracks.
It's important to be OK enough with yourself that you can acknowledge the things you don't necessarily like. Coming clean takes strength, but it'll free you up to focus on becoming a better version of yourself.
3. Seeking constant reassurance
Sometimes you need to hear someone else say, "You probably won't get fired tomorrow. It was just a simple mistake." And hopefully, your partner is able to support you.
But constantly asking things like, "Do I look OK?" or "Do you really love me," is a red flag that your inner dialogue isn't healthy. Constantly seeking reassurance will likely take a serious toll on your relationship too. It's important to learn how to reframe your own negative thoughts so you can trust your brain without always needing your partner to do it for you.
4. Snooping, spying, or checking up on your partner
If you struggle with anxiety about whether your partner is faithful, you might find checking their phone or looking through their belongings gives you some temporary reassurance. But, that reassurance is likely to be short-lived.
Your anxiety will rise again — causing you to want to snoop and spy even more. Checking up on your partner erodes trust even more and damages the relationship. It'll also cause you to start keeping secrets (as you insist you weren't snooping when your partner walks in the room).
5. Allowing your emotions to go unchecked
Your partner will likely evoke strong feelings. While love and happiness feel great, anger, frustration, fear, and sadness can get the best of you if left unchecked.
Whether you yell when you're frustrated or leave for the night every time you get anxious about whether your partner loves you, your emotional state can lead to some pretty damaging behaviors.
Feeling intense emotions isn't bad. After all, love is an intense emotion that makes life more fun. It's what you do with those emotions that matters. Learning how to cope with your feelings — even the uncomfortable ones — is key to being mentally strong.
6. Complaining about your partner to other people
You might try to convince yourself that you're complaining about your partner because you need emotional support. But speaking poorly about your partner keeps your brain focused on the negative — which will cause you to overlook the good.
If you're looking for help solving a problem — like you want to leave but don't have a steady income — talk to someone who can help. But don't commiserate with people about your partner's annoying habits.
Take your concerns directly to your partner. Talk about what you'd like to see changed. Don't complain just for the sake of it, because you'll start training your brain to look for the bad.
7. Treating your partner with disrespect
You'll never feel good about yourself as long as you're treating others poorly — especially when the person you're disrespecting is your partner.
If you struggle to communicate respectfully or you're having a hard time expressing yourself in a socially appropriate way, you may want to seek professional help. Tearing your partner down will drain you of the mental strength you need to be your best.
8. Neglecting yourself
It's important to devote yourself to the relationship. But if you do that at the expense of yourself, you won't be able to be the strongest and best version of you.
Whether you give up all your hobbies for your partner's sake or you stop spending time with friends because you don't want your partner to feel bad when you're out, neglecting your own needs makes it impossible to be strong.
9. Nagging, lecturing, or pleading
Repeatedly telling your partner to stop spending so much or asking them over and over again to pick up their socks will wear you down faster than it will change their behavior.
To preserve your mental strength, focus on the things you can control — like your own behavior. If you aren't happy with something your partner is doing (or isn't doing), commit to responding in a way that won't damage the relationship.
A healthy response might range from ignoring the behavior to deciding to end the relationship. But keep in mind your job is to manage your emotional response — not control the other person's behavior.
10. Holding grudges
- Your partner will let you down and hurt your feelings sometimes. That happens in any close relationship.
- Holding a grudge won't repair your feelings, though. In fact, holding onto anger will make you feel worse.
- Decide if what your partner did is forgivable. You might decide you can't move forward — perhaps you have no interest in continuing the relationship after being cheated on, for example. If you can't forgive, you may need to end the relationship.
- If you can forgive (and your partner is able to take responsibility for their behavior), commit to letting go of your grudge and working through your emotions so you can heal.