We all have a deep inner need to connect with other human beings. Researchers at Penn State University take this one step further and claim that love is a key component of well-being. For love to work, it needs open and honest communication. On the flip side, there are things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
Naturally, we all have different tolerance levels. This means that some of us can often forgive certain things that others might not. Regardless of what you’re willing to accept, we all still need to be valued and honored as human beings.
That’s why there are some common, unforgivable things in a relationship for you to look out for.
25 examples of unacceptable behavior in a relationship
When it comes to things not to do in a relationship, it doesn’t matter which culture and background you come from. There are, of course, subtle differences but ultimately, we are all human beings with similar needs and daily issues to deal with. Therefore, make sure you know this list of things you should never tolerate in a relationship in order to be happy.
1. Physical abuse
Couples rarely start out by hitting each other from day one which is why it can creep up on you. Often, things build up from an initial shove or slap and get to the point of unacceptable behavior in a relationship.
Sadly, many people stay with those partners even though it’s one of the key things you should never tolerate in a relationship. Why do people stay? The reasons are complex but range from fear to low self-esteem and lack of a supportive friends network.
Also, after a moment of abuse, the offending partner often turns on the charm and makes amazing excuses. They can be so good at this that you doubt yourself especially if you have no one to talk to.
If this sounds like you, don’t hesitate to call your local helplines for domestic violence.
Things not to do in a relationship don’t just stop at physical abuse. Mental and emotional abuse can be more subtle, and examples include insulting you and generally undervaluing you. Either way, it destroys your self-esteem, and you end up second-guessing yourself and being overly emotional.
Demeaning behavior in a relationship can involve ignoring your feelings and shutting you out. When someone stonewalls you, they refuse to answer you and might even walk away in mid-conversation.
Unfortunately, there are many potential causes, as described by psychotherapist Marni Feuerman, but if someone won’t have an open conversation and work on their behavior, you’ll come to a dead end.
4. Ignoring boundaries and needs
Great partnerships are built on a solid foundation of trust, respect, and mutual understanding of each other’s differences. That’s why things you should never tolerate in a relationship include someone purposefully ignoring your boundaries and needs.
Boundaries are guidelines for how you want to be treated and how your needs can be met. This impacts your mental health and, if ignored, will build up over time into resentment and even potential burnout. We all know instinctively that these are things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
5. Never apologize
We’ve all met those people who think the world revolves around them. So much so that if anything goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. This is high on the list of things you should never tolerate in a relationship because any self-esteem you have will slowly erode away.
6. Manipulation and control
Does your partner tell you what to wear, who to see and what to do? Do you ever feel that you’re doing things, perhaps hobbies when you prefer doing something else?
It isn’t always easy to spot manipulation, but deep down, you’ll know that something’s off and that these are things you should never tolerate in a relationship. Sometimes people manipulate or control by making others feel guilty or by withdrawing. Then, they ‘reward’ you with their so-called loving presence after you’ve given them what they want.
7. Obsessive jealousy
No one wants to be in a relationship with someone worse than an overprotective Mum. Jealousy is an ugly thing and is up there on the list of things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
Of course, we’re all human with our moments of insecurity. Regardless, if your partner can’t communicate openly and calls you 10 times when you’re out with your friends, for example, then you have to ask yourself questions.
We all doubt ourselves at certain points during the day. The worst thing is if your partner then calls you out on those very things by comparing you to other women. After all, your partner is supposed to love you despite, or because of, your imperfections.
If they’re showing the opposite behavior, then perhaps they’re using you for some other motive?
9. Demeaning statements
Things you should never tolerate in a relationship include not being cared about. After all, if that’s the case, then what’s the point of the relationship? Essentially, insults or hurtful comments about you, your job, goals, family, or anything else just don’t come from a caring and loving partner.
Do not tolerate disrespect. It’s really that simple, especially when someone judges you and criticizes you for your body or character traits. No one is perfect, least of all someone who shames you. Ultimately, respect is about accepting you without forcing you to be someone else.
Manipulation of any form, including gaslighting, is on the list of unforgivable things in a relationship. In this case of gaslighting, partners deny they’re doing anything wrong and distort things so much that you question your reality. If you want specific examples, you must contact a therapist.
Most checklists of things you should never tolerate in a relationship include cheating. However, life isn’t always clear-cut, and sometimes, we are part of the problem. That’s why the overall arching word ‘trust’ is key.
Also, breaking your trust doesn’t just involve cheating. It could be bad-mouthing you behind your back or not following through on commitments without good reason. There’s actually a fine balance between trust and forgiveness but make sure you and your partner know what’s non-negotiable for you. Otherwise, you’ll fall into bad habits of things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
Is your partner never there for your work-dos? Perhaps they’re never around when you’re having a hard time?
If you find yourself constantly making excuses for their absence or any other behavior to your friends, you have a big clue. Ultimately, things you should never tolerate in a relationship involve not being there for you. Otherwise, you might as well be on your own.
14. Neediness and clinging
Any form of clinging can, quite simply, be suffocating. It also shows a lack of self-esteem and insecurity. This can be mentally challenging and exhausting to live with. Of course, nothing stops you from supporting them through therapy.
Although, make sure you know that it’s not your job to fix people and that you need to set very clear boundaries. These will help you avoid having to deal with things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
Long-lasting relationships are based on honesty and trust. If lying becomes the norm, then you’re on a downhill struggle. It goes back to the statement: do not tolerate disrespect. If lying starts, where does it end?
Before you know it, neither of you will know what reality means and who either of you is. Clearly, these are things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
16. Hurtful comments
When your partner knows exactly what to say to make their words both hurtful and personal, you should reconsider things. Everyone deserves love and compassion. On the other hand, using what you know about someone to really cut them at the core is unacceptable behavior in a relationship.
17. Denying your friends
Strong, supportive relationships respect that you’re both a couple and individual people. That means having alone time and being able to see your friends both together and separately.
On the flip side, a partner can try to isolate you either because they’re needy or controlling. Either way, these are both examples of demeaning behavior in a relationship. One day, you’ll wake, and your friends will be long gone, as will any mental and emotional balance from your life.
18. Dismissing your family
No one has a perfect family, but you don’t expect them to be insulted by your partner. It’s never a good sign if they never see your family. This might seem relatively harmless at first, but with time, you’ll see that your partner is at odds with your values and who you are. After all, like it or not, family defines us.
19. Financial control, or lack of
Money is one of the easiest ways to control people, and it can go either way. You can have an overly controlling partner on the one hand who has the only access to your accounts.
Alternatively, you can have a partner who burns through all your money. The worst part is when they haven’t even touched their money. Then, one day, you wake up realizing you’ve paid for everything.
20. Refuse to compromise or negotiate
Being human means being imperfect. That’s also true for any relationship. In reality, it’s the couples who accept their imperfections and who want to grow and learn together that make it through.
The perfect partnership means supporting each other to be the best version of themselves. That’s impossible to do with someone who won’t compromise or listen.
21. Addiction without recovery plans
Many relationships work through addiction issues, whether these are substance, food, work, or any object of desire. Nevertheless, for things to function, the partner needs to be open and honest about their recovery.
Either way, it takes a huge leap of faith to support someone through such challenges, and it’s a fine line with things you should never tolerate in a relationship. Only you can answer the question as to whether it’s worth it.
22. The ‘slave’ treatment
Gone are the days of women cooking and slaving all day to make things ready for their husbands to return home from work. No one should ever feel like a slave at home. On the contrary, chores should be shared, and roles worked out together. It all comes back to open communication and life balance.
23. Constant negativity
Perhaps you can tolerate a certain amount of negativity if you are hugely positive yourself? After a while, it will drag you down. You’ll start getting frustrated, even to the point of yelling at each other and generally disrespecting each other.
Are tolerance and respect the same thing? Respect is about allowing others to believe what they feel is right, including positive views on life. On the other hand, tolerance is about allowing people to say and do what they want, up to your limit. Therefore, you need to know what’s acceptable to you when it comes to being surrounded by negativity.
We all need self-pride and belief in ourselves to operate successfully in life. When these traits tip too far on balance and lead to self-centeredness and arrogance, you might want to reconsider your relationship.
Being with someone so focused on themselves and so demanding of others to meet their needs is both draining and unhealthy to your own self-esteem. Any behavior that impacts you negatively like that necessarily falls into the things you should never tolerate in a relationship.
Let’s go back to the question: are tolerance and respect the same thing? Consider the case of a partner who only tolerates you and, as such, spends most of their time judging you and invalidating your feelings. Naturally, you can’t get everything right in life, but that attitude doesn’t respect who you are as a person.
What you want is respect. This means that your partner does more than just tolerate that you might have differences in opinions. They also have high regard for you and all the qualities you bring to the relationship.
Everyone has something to offer. Appreciating and understanding that is the core to a successful partnership.
No one wants to be taken for granted or used and abused in a relationship. Sadly, many of us find ourselves with unhealthy partners at one point or another. First, check this list for things you should never tolerate in a relationship, and be honest with yourself.
If any of these behaviors sound familiar, talk to your friends to help you let go of any guilt you might be feeling. Secondly, do what’s right for you with respect to the relationship. In the long run, you need to put yourself first to develop a healthy partnership based on mutual respect.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.