In my intimacy and relationship coaching practice, I have heard countless women, men, and couples share with me the inner workings of their relationships. They have opened up about their biggest fears as well as their deepest longings and desires when it comes to soul-satisfying love, companionship, and commitment with a partner.
We all know that the sting of sexual betrayal is one of the most difficult experiences a couple can have. However, this is just one of the many ways people sabotage their relationships. Here are six insidious ways to betray your relationship – that have nothing to do with cheating.
1. Confiding in someone else
This one isn’t as bad as the others, but for me, it’s the same. If the person I’ve invested my emotions and trust in doesn’t pay me back in the same way, it’s a sign that we have a one-sided relationship. If they don’t trust me, why should I trust them? For me, that idea that a couple must share everything is outdated and idealistic, but when it comes to serious things that concern both of us, I expect my partner to trust me before random people.
2. Neglecting your relationship.
Relationships are living, dynamic things. They need to be nurtured day in and day out.
Many couples get the idea that once they found “the” partner and committed, no extra effort would be required, and the relationship would naturally take care of itself. So instead of prioritizing quality time and communication with their partner (like they did when they were dating), the relationship gets pushed to the back burner.
Your relationship will not thrive if you only invest in it when it suits you. This kind of neglect is a one-way ticket to splitsville. Your partner requires (and is worthy of) more than scraps of leftover time and attention.
3. Hiding something serious
I don’t expect them to tell me everything about them since we are all entitled to some privacy in life, but there are serious matters that should be put on the table, especially if they can have an impact on the relationship. This could include disease, perhaps a child, criminal records; in other words, serious things that could affect me indirectly.
4. Financial abuse
As an extremely stingy person, money is quite a serious topic for me. It’s not that I base my life on money, but I’ve always valued the effort it takes to make it. Most people can relate to this, I think. So, abusing my finances would be one of the worst things someone could ever do to me. I can be quite generous, but if someone uses me for my money, that’s stealing and a severe betrayal of my trust.
5. Viewing your relationship status as more important than your relationship quality.
We receive so many cultural messages that teach us to think that we’re not good enough, important enough, or desirable enough if we’re single. In response to this, many people go on a fanatical quest to find a partner, get the engagement ring, and run down the aisle.
This way of approaching relationships puts the label “relationship” on a pedestal and distracts us from the thing that actually matters most: having the human experience we desire most. Dr. Robert Firestone refers to this as the “fantasy bond.” In his book, Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, Dr. Firestone says the fantasy bond is the single most important factor leading to the deterioration of love and attraction in a relationship.
When you make the relationship label a higher priority than the actual relationship, intimacy, affection, and the strength of your bond will start to weaken, and in time, disappear altogether.
You have to develop a solid friendship with your partner and routinely check-in.
6. Using your partner.
If you aren’t truly owning your development and growth as an individual, you can easily fall into patterns of codependence and begin to (unconsciously) expect your partner to be responsible for your happiness. This is incredibly draining for your significant other.
I’ve seen many people resist personal growth work, and then place the burden on their partner to make up for the emotional groundwork they’re not willing to cover for themselves. This creates an extreme inequality in the relationship—one person is mostly in “give” mode, and one person is mostly in “take” mode.
When we take responsibility for our emotions and internal healing, we take the weight of unfair expectation away from our partner, and allow them to support us as an equal, instead of having to carry us.
7. Insisting on being “right” more often than not.
One of the most damaging ways people respond to fear and insecurity is by shaming others. I’ve seen this quite a bit with the couples I work with. When we are afraid, or feel threatened or triggered into employing our coping mechanisms, we sometimes try to undermine the person we see as “threatening” by shaming or attacking them. The alternative is working through the circumstance, which requires vulnerability.
8. Sharing something intimate with others
Along with money, this is one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship. What happens behind closed doors is private, and shouldn’t be anyone’s business. If I share my (not just sexual) intimacy with someone, I expect them to keep it for themselves. If I wanted people to know, I would tell them personally.