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The 3 Most Toxic Dynamics in a Relationship

distrust, dishonesty

Several factors exist that conflict with a loving long-term relationship or marriage. Distrust, disrespect, and disinterest are relationship killers that slowly break the bond between two people. Over time, these three factors could potentially cause a break-up or divorce.


Doubting the reliability or honesty of your partner is what it means to distrust them. Distrust removes safety from the relationship and allows suspicion to grow. To be authentic, be able to grow, and to share thoughts and fears, partners must feel safe in their relationship with one another. Distrust often stems from one person’s inability to share information with the other, such as information about jobs, family, personal history, financial transactions, activities, addictions, or an affair. An affair is often a reason a relationship ends because there is no hope of rebuilding the trust between partners. Infidelity is the most common reason for divorce. However, some couples are able to rebuild trust following infidelity through professional help and working through mutual goals. Often, couples may resort to ignoring the fact that the affair happened, and that distrust remains. This occurs because there is fear of acknowledging the affair and its effect on the relationship. When distrust as a result of an affair is not acknowledged, it cannot be addressed, leaving lingering distrust and shame for both partners. There is no opportunity for healing or to begin to rebuild a sense of safety. Distrust can also be unwarranted, often stemming from a past relationship, childhood betrayals, poor self-esteem, or difficulty regulating emotions. Anything can be misconstrued or questioned, making a trusting relationship nearly impossible. Professional help can potentially help in these situations, particularly when issues are driven by a mental health condition.


Disrespect in a relationship may not be easily apparent. Some partners may fail to see how their comments or behavior is hurtful to the other person. Contempt can be a subtle sign of disrespect, such as speaking over the other person, mocking or ignoring them, rolling their eyes, or trying to embarrass them. Criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling are all common, negative communication patterns that damage relationships.


A loss of interest by a partner can be more hurtful than having the other person angry. Disinterest can manifest itself through not showing up to special events, taking no interest in the other person’s life, and a lack of laughing, conversation, playfulness, or touching. Sex may be viewed as an obligation or just part of a routine.

It is important to recognize when destructive behaviors are hurting your relationship. By acknowledging what is damaging the relationship, both partners can take a step towards positive change. For some, this may include professional counseling, either as a couple, individually, or both.

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