1. A poorly timed “yeah,” or “uh-huh,” that gives away the fact you weren’t really listening to their story. Because if said story is something your significant other is really worked up about, you’re in big trouble–in the proper circumstance, this could easily snowball into a big picture thing about you never actually listening. Never actually listening the first cousin of not really giving a shit this whole time we’ve been together.
2. Framing a possibly accusatory mundane observation the wrong way. I.e., if your boyfriend never washes the dishes, and you tell him “you never wash the dishes,” there’s a certain delivery that can spark a fast-moving firestorm of second-guessing and uncertainty. Does she resent me? Does she have a reason to?
Communication is lethal when it becomes miscommunication.
3. Being too selfless. Which sounds ridiculous, but if one person constantly adheres to the others wants and needs without considering their own, the two are not in a relationship. (Depending on the rent situation, this might be more of an indentured servitude.)
Anyone looking for a fulfilling relationship will shy away from this sort of thing. It’s sure nice to have someone on call, but it can get kind of old. Sometimes, it’s best to speak up.
4. When your boy/girl person gets all excited because they just dominated their MCATS, make sure the initial look on your face is of genuine happiness. If there’s even a hint of jealously, you’re forever doomed.
5. Talking in a condescending tone when discussing something they don’t understand too well, or something you think they don’t understand too well. Condescension is the ultimate relationship ruiner–it implies you’re not on the same plane.
6. Forgive something that doesn’t merit forgiveness, or avoid an argument that’s one degree to hot for the boiling temperature–something that doesn’t seem to make sense when phrased the way I just phrased it, but is probably universally understood enough not to matter.
Basically, know when you shouldn’t forgive too easily. If you don’t, you’ll actively create an ever-growing gap that may never be mended. Think about Africa and South America–once so tight, now so far apart.
7. Complaining at the wrong time. Like, if you’re out having a great time at a really nice restaurant in the West Village, and all of a sudden you make a huge scene because it’s taking 5 minutes longer than necessary to get the check back.
Totally avoidable, self-inflicted evening ruiners such as the one described above sometimes reveal the fatal flaw that is you–and can make a guy or girl run of the hills of bachelorhood faster than you can say “but he was kind of a dick, right?”
8. Being overly nosy when they engage in plans not involving you. A few years back, I lived down the hall from a dude who was always incredibly inquisitive about what I was doing, where I was going, who I was hanging out with, and how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop. Living with that ranged from being mildly funny to incredibly annoying. But having that as a girlfriend–someone you legitimately would have to answer to when those questions were posed 140 times a week–would be almost as bad as having a government that cares more about shitting on other members of the government than actually helping people. Oh.
9. Fighting in a way that undermines the other’s fighting skill set. Fighting, as a thing, is totes croosh for the continued survival of any relationship. But if you guys tend to gravitate too much towards one style of fighting–be it aggressive screaming matches or low-toned bickering–and one of you is MUCH better at that particular style of fighting–it will probably lead to one final fight.
If you’re on the losing side of this, the day you realize this is probably the last day you’re really into the ‘ship.
10. Looking out at the sunset and focusing on the bigger picture.You don’t necessarily have to look out at the sunset–it could just be the ocean, a lake, or even a field of recently plowed earth. The point is that if you stop and think about your relationship in a way that makes you think too much, you’ll end up mind-fucking yourself out of the happy, loving stability you’ve been enjoying significantly more than you ever thought you would.
It’s sometimes tough to avoid thinking about the long run–especially given that emotionally torturing oneself is so appealing in theory. But alas, we must try.