Problematic Relationship & Dating Behaviors

7 Troubling Relationship Behaviors It's Time We Stopped Thinking Are Romantic

Off and on celebrity couples make headlines. There are entire songs about infatuation. Movies often feature metaphors of one character fighting to be with another character at all costs.

All of these cultural influences not only normalize problematic behaviors, but also make some of them seem very romantic.

Problematic Relationship & Dating Behaviors

"The media has a strong influence on problematic relationship behaviors, dramatic events and unhealthy patterns," says Danny Zane, an integrative therapist and counselor. "It leads people to believe that bad behavior is acceptable, even desirable."

However, just because something is popular in our culture doesn't mean it's good for you. Whether you're single or in a relationship, it's important to stop romanticizing certain behaviors so you can enjoy a healthy, fulfilling love life. Here are seven problematic forms of behavior that are often mistaken for love and passion:

  1. Ignoring boundaries

There's a perception that we should fight for love. However, after someone expresses a desire for space or a lack of interest in pursuing a relationship, sticking around and insisting means you're ignoring their boundaries.

Whether you're trying to get someone's number or avoid a breakup, it's important to take someone at their word and respect their wishes.

  1. Constantly arguing

You argue and then you have intense make-up sex. It happens. But if it happens too often, it's less healthy than romance - even if the highs and lows can be intoxicating.

"Some people think that frequent arguments mean you're both passionate about the relationship," says Bayu Prihandito, certified life coach and founder of Life Architekture. "However, over time, constant bickering can erode the foundation of trust and mutual respect in your relationship."

  1. Jealousy and Possessiveness

Feeling jealous everywhere is a human thing. However, being jealous and controlling on a regular basis is problematic.

"It's not a sign of love, it's a sign of insecurity. True and sincere love trusts and gives space," adds Prihandito.

What's the difference between normal jealousy and excessive jealousy? If you start wanting to control your partner's behavior and monitor their whereabouts instead of expressing feelings or needs, then you're entering problematic territory.

The same can be said for making unfounded accusations or letting insecurities dominate the relationship atmosphere.

  1. Returning to gender stereotypes

No matter what lessons you've learned about masculinity along the way, acting dominant or stoic in a relationship may not actually be all that desirable.

"Aggressive masculinity glorifies men's predominantly toxic behavior toward their chosen partners," says Zane. "It promotes unhealthy stereotypes that limit any healthy intimacy or communication, including a man's ability to express his feelings and emotions."

Connection is built on vulnerability and emotional availability. Challenging the notion that "men should act a certain way in order to be seen as masculine and attractive" is critical.

Problematic Relationship & Dating Behaviors

  1. Interdependence

Getting serious fast or spending every minute of the day together can be seen as romantic, but these situations can be a sign of interdependence - a relationship model in which people are overly invested in each other at the expense of their personal functioning.

"Finding joy in your partner is a beautiful thing, but it's equally important to have your own sources and methods for finding happiness and well-being," Prihandito says. "Romanticizing the notion that it's OK to be completely dependent on one person can lead to unhealthy and sometimes dangerous patterns of behavior," Zane added.

  1. Strong infatuation

You meet someone. You can't stop thinking about them. Before you had a chance to get to know each other, you had your future mapped out. You put them on a pedestal and start projecting all those ideals onto them. And you care deeply about impressing them.

The feeling of infatuation can be very strong, but it's not actually romantic. In fact, it can be an obstacle to true intimacy, where humans connect on a real level - albeit flawed, but equally interested in exploring their connection and letting it evolve over time.

      7. Making sacrifices

Finally, there is a tendency to romanticize the idea that making great sacrifices is a sign of love. While making compromises and the occasional sacrifice is part of sharing your life with someone, it's never noble to give up your personal dreams for love.

"Giving up personal dreams or ambitions just for the sake of a relationship is often seen as a noble act," Prihandito said. "But in practice, I've seen how it can lead to resentment and deep regret."

Instead, he says, "a healthy relationship should support personal growth and goals on both sides."

Problematic Relationship & Dating Behaviors

If you engage in some of these behaviors, don't blame yourself. After all, they are common. But that doesn't mean they lead to the best results, so take the time to change old habits.

As Zane points out, there's also a lot of work to be done on a societal level: "We have to stop romanticizing problematic behaviors in the media so that we can cultivate a society that is attuned to healthy love relationships and will only lead to positive outcomes for all involved."

That said, there's nothing stopping you from starting this work on a personal level.