habits of dysfunctional relationships

Habits of a dysfunctional relationship

I’ve been in dysfunctional relationships and I’ve been in functional ones. Right now I am in an incredibly functioning, loving, happy relationship (gloat, gloat, gloat), which means with hindsight, all the things that make a relationship dysfunctional seem stark by comparison. There’s a fine line, however. All couples have their problems. Everyone disagrees. Sometimes people get jealous, you say the wrong thing; other times, you can be a little selfish. These aren’t necessarily hallmarks of dysfunction; Even the most functional couples have their irrational moments. This article however explains some regular habits of dysfunctional relationships.

To know the habits of dysfunctional relationships, we need to first understand what it means for a relationship to called that word. Dysfunctional relationships are ones in which the negatives not only far outweigh the positives, but where they are so ingrained in the dynamic between two people they become irreversible. And they’re not just limited to romantic relationships; friendships, family relationships, and workplace relationships can all qualify as dysfunctional too.

It doesn’t mean the two people in the relationship are bad or dysfunctional individuals either (although sometimes it does). Mostly, it just means that these two people, for whatever reason, bring out the worst in each other. Oh, to be young and reckless again. Dysfunction, as a rule, generally breeds more dysfunction. Once you’ve gotten into dysfunctional habits with someone, they can be nearly impossible to break. Especially when the relationship starts off dysfunctional (as opposed to a functional relationship that later becomes problematic). Anyone who has ever been in a dysfunctional relationship, no matter how long or how severe, will relate to the following things which culminate into habits of dysfunctional relationships

They lie

People in dysfunctional relationships lie. They lie to each other about all sorts of things, but mostly things that would cause controversy if told truthful. They lie to the people around them in order to convince them that the relationship is functional. And most importantly, they lie to themselves in a bid to normalize a relationship that might be causing pain or hardship.

They self-sabotage

In a dysfunctional relationship, otherwise functional people might find themselves imploding on purpose. A dysfunctional relationship is generally made up on two people who are hell bent on self-destruction, so much so that even when things are starting to go well, they’ll find some excuse to plunge the relationship straight back into chaos.

They create drama

The smallest things in a dysfunctional relationship are cause for drama. The intonation of an “okay”; a throwaway glance across a room; a five-minute late meeting. People in functional relationships know to choose their battles. They know that sometimes you have to let the small stuff slide, not only to be happy in your relationship, but to be happy in yourself. People in dysfunctional relationships see every tiny mishap or miscommunication as an opportunity for melodrama.

They refuse to compromise

Life is about compromise. Not everything goes your way all the time, and you have to be willing to do things you don’t want to do (within reason, like sitting through back-to-back football games, or visiting another person’s family. Not “kill puppies” or “eat vomit.”). Compromise is the key to happiness. People in dysfunctional relationships never seem to see the forest for the trees, and won’t meet in the middle, even for mutually beneficial results. This is one of the biggest problems in dysfunctional relationships: people in them are acting entirely selfishly.

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They leave issues unresolved

People in dysfunctional relationships go to bed mad. They don’t work towards fixing their issues. They fight, learn nothing, and have the same fight again and again, each time coming back to points that have been argued and re-argued on countless occasions. Whether the issues are un-resolvable or one/both parties stubbornly wont resolve them, having ongoing issues that don’t change or get better is a good indication that a relationship might be winding up, and yet…

They keep coming back for more

Dysfunctional relationships have a way of never ending. It takes a lot of resolve to get out of one. There’s an attachment that breeds with dysfunction. It’s easy in some ways. Through all the tears and screaming and fighting and manipulation and deception, it’s somehow easier to expect things to go badly. There are no cards on the table. If you’re always angry or hurt, there are no surprises. People in dysfunctional relationships stay in them because it’s somehow simpler to be dependent on drama than it is to take responsibility for their actions where they’ve caused someone else pain. It’s easier to kick and scream than it is to work hard for their own happiness; to truly care for someone in the gentle, tender way that leaves their vulnerable, naked heart in another person’s hands. Or even just to say to themselves “I’m worth more than this.”

It’s time to start making plans towards making your resolutions effective. Search this article thoroughly, and objectively assess your relationship(s) with people; dysfunctional or not. Take wise steps to make it right today.


What other habits of dysfunctional relationships do you know? Please be kind to share in the comments. Thank you.


Written with help from Bustle

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One comment

  1. Great points! Another attribute of a dysfunctional relationship is that the parties avoid meaningful communication. Rather, they resort to silent treatment or use of violence to resolve crises. This adds physical and emotional abuse to the relationship, making it more dysfunctional.

    Also, some people in dysfunctional relationships deny the obvious and find it hard to accept that they are in such a relationship, especially when confronted by someone who has seen the obvious and desires to help.

    Though I believe that deep down in their hearts, they know that things are not normal but find it difficult to admit and seek for help and live in self-denial.

    There should be no shame in one being in a dysfunctional relationship. The way forward is for the parties involved to admit it and seek for professional help where necessary, especially if it involves physical abuse.

    Keep up the good work.

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