What are the top three relationship killers?

After giving advise to a lot of people throughout the years and from my experience, I can tell you there are many more than three. However if we are to narrow them down to just three, and the ones that are the most likely to occur, then, I would say they are these:

Self awareness

Many people do not know themselves as well as they think. With a misconstrued perception of an individual comes misconstrued expectations on a partner that come into play psychologically, sexually, financially, emotionally, etc. Relationships and partners will not fix you. This is where the expression “relationships are work” begins to show its head and it starts with you. Many people I have known started relationships they should not have started with the given or known information from both parties, in the first place. And why? Personality cognitive dissonance. Only because you find someone sexy, attractive or even seductive, it means squat, if you lack the skills to be able to fix issues as they come up, or if you are incompatible in many other, obvious ways. Especially, issues created by a lack of self-awareness or deluded wishful thinking. Willingness to date someone does not give you the skills needed to date said person, or proves or improves compatibility. The amount of adults who forget these simple facts has astounded me again and again, over the years.

Lack of communication and honesty.

Good, useful and productive communication is a skill and honesty requires courage. The reason I lump them together is because they generally feed off each other in relationships.

To really know how to productively communicate with your partner requires a skill that it is either innate or learned from experience. The problem with being learned from experience is that not everyone has the same experience (whether it is good or bad) and due to it, people communicate differently which can cause serious issues to appear from the most mundane of disagreements. Especially over time.

With honesty, the problem lies in the insecurity of acceptance. People will lie consciously and sometimes subconsciously, in relationships in order to avoid issues, rock the boat, or to minimize/hide their faults, errors or fallacies that they fear their partner could see as detrimental. In other words, people do not want their partners to lose feelings for them because of their flaws. It takes courage because being forthcoming can be a real risk since it *could* happen. This is where you get that old saying that in order to “really feel love, you have to give your partner the capacity to hurt you” but let’s face it, no one wants to be hurt. So people will try almost every possible way to shelter their emotions, and by default, sidestep honesty as to minimize getting truly hurt, at least, until the very last possible moment. In a mature relationship you have to trust the other person and be open as soon as possible, instead, not later.

So let’s state a fact: You and your partner will fight. Period. You will argue about something that you both disagree on, at one point or another. The difference is how you do it. I have always said that a great way to see if a relationship has a good chance of succeeding is not to see how a couple behaves when everything is great and lovey-dovey. Oh no, it is when they are seriously pissed of at each other and angry, that is far more telling. If a couple can continue to be respectful, aware that emotions may be running high and still see the issue as a problem to be solved together, rather than through ‘winning an argument’ or an insulting, screaming match, then you may have something good going.

Too bad proactive relationship communication classes are not taught in High Schools, it could make life a lot easier for many.

That is not to add to the fact that women and men communicate in different ways and about different things. Which finally leads me to:


By empathy, I first mean being able to put yourself in other people shoes, “while wearing their shoes, not yours.” It is an incredible subtle difference that most people miss. Sure, they put themselves in said situation but still see the situation from their own perspective and skin, as in, what THEY would do in that situation and not see it from the background and experience of the OTHER person, instead.

Empathy also means your partner has and needs to KNOW that you understand/understood them. Whether it may be a funny story they told you, or an argument. Furthermore, it includes not taking your partner for granted, trying to follow the Golden Rule in relationships it is always a safe bet. However, I like to add my own twist.

So the saying goes:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

However, I think this works much, much, much better in relationships:

“Do unto others what they would like to have done onto them.”

And if possible, be proactive. Always lead by example and try to make your partner feel better and happier every day and remind them from time to time that they are important in your life. Do and plan different things to grow together.

When one partner forgets and stops doing this is, when the seeds of resentment are planted which will cause problems down the road. This could happen in the first place because you either chose the wrong partner (POINT #1) or your partner and you are not communicating properly (Point #2).

As a freebie: here is a fourth that it is in my opinion is worth mentioning:

The concept that you are different and these do not apply to you.

Remember, everyone would like to think they are different and unique… Just like everyone else.

Hey, in many ways you might be different but you are still human. At one point or another you will do one or more of these and that is okay. Again, you are human. Heck, I know them and I still do them simply because it is harder to see things crystal clear when emotions are involved but that does not mean we cannot look for these when they are happening and avoid them, and more importantly, try to fix them. Trust me, I can’t guarantee your relationship will last forever but believe you me, if you follow these, they will lead you to a happier one while it lasts.

Samuel Whyte

A psychology enthusiast, interested in movies, painting,psychology, hiking, workout etc.

Speaks Chinese and English.

Currently lives in Shanghai, China.

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