No matter how attractive, funny or charismatic your significant other maybe, if s/he has any of the five relationship accountability show-stoppers below, be warned that you are likely in for a very bumpy ride at best.
1. Defensiveness: Everyone gets defensive every now and then, however, some people get defensive anytime someone gives them feedback that is less than positive. Living with someone who is defensive is exhausting. Regardless of whether you’re letting them know that you don’t like the way they snapped at you or you’re asking if they would please clean up the dishes, the defensive person’s response is to defend. They say things like:
a. “Nothing’s ever good enough for you, is it?”
b. “Like you never snap at people?! Please!”
c. “I always take out the trash. The one time I didn’t jump on it and you’re all over my back!”
As you can imagine, these endless defenses get old very fast. They also get incredibly frustrating. After a while, many people simply stop giving the person feedback and instead live for years with resentment and anger.
2. Dismissive: It’s one thing for someone to not be worried or bothered by something that worries you, however, it’s entirely different for them to repeatedly to be telling you that you’re too sensitive or it’s not a big deal, etc. No one gets to tell you what is and is not important. Be wary of the person who often minimizes your concerns or brushes off your upsets. Over time, you will find yourself constantly questioning yourself or forever trying to convince them that there’s a reason for your upset. This is not a battle you want to be playing out for years!
3. Unapologetic/Unaccountable: When people refuse to apologize for harms or mistakes they make, this is a huge red flag. The idea that “love is never having to say you’re sorry” is one of the stupidest things ever said. All human beings make mistakes and part of repairing those mistakes it being accountable for them. Apologizing is the first part of being accountable. The second step is to repair the damage whenever possible and finally doing whatever is necessary to ensure they don’t keep repeating that behavior. If you’re with someone who seldom apologizes and either excuse, rationalizes or blames you or others for their behaviors, then you are going to struggle in this relationship.
4. Gaslighting: When you find yourself questioning your own sanity, due to conversations with your loved one, chances are you’re being gaslighted. Someone who gaslights can be charismatic, fun, attractive and even kind, yet you find yourself constantly questioning yourself around them. The gaslighter may deny saying something that you’re certain was said or tell you that you always make a big deal out of things for example. They may blame you for causing problems that they in fact created or they may boldly and blatantly lie and then deny lying. Gaslighting is a serious issue that often leaves you questioning your reality. Few relationships can take the damage of gaslighting for very long.
5. Selfishness: Healthy relationships are reciprocal and require give and take from both partners. When giving turns into enabling and receiving turns into selfishness though, one person’s life is going to be miserable. If you’re the giver, that miserable life is going to be yours. No matter how fun, attractive, rich or successful someone is, if they only think about themselves, you will be lonely and unhappy over time. Selfish people are caught up in how they think and feel not how those around them think and feel. Great relationships require two people caring about how the joy and happiness of each other.
The five characteristics above have ruined many a marriage and countless relationships. If you or someone you love struggles with any of the above, seek help to address this particular issue. Name the issue directly, talk about how and when it plays out and be clear to your partner how it is impacting you and your relationship. If you hire a professional to work with you and your partner, clearly name the issue to them and don’t sugarcoat the issue by saying “We have to work on communication”.
Challenge: Get conscious of the 5 show-stoppers above and how they play out in your life with others. If you struggle with relationship accountability, seek help to address the problem. If your partner struggles, seek help as a couple to address these issues.