8 Relationship Killers to Watch Out For


Relationship health plays a powerful role in overall health and wellness. The stress caused by being in a toxic relationship or enduring hardship can profoundly impact one’s hormones, sleep patterns, and cognition.

Knowing what to watch out for is the key to identifying potential pitfalls for your relationship. Here are eight relationship killers to watch for so that you can recover together.

Excessive Drinking and Substance Abuse

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a few drinks, whether with your partner or in separate social groups. However, when that enjoyment becomes a reliance that starts impacting your relationship, there’s a problem.

Excessive drinking and substance abuse have a ripple effect throughout a relationship. There are more minor side-effects, such as responsibility lapses when someone is hungover. Then there are more complex issues such as hurtful words said under the influence.

Many couples are struggling with alcohol and substance abuse in light of the global pandemic. If alcohol intake is starting to chip away at your relationship, it might be time to try Couples Rehabs programs to help get you back on track.


Smartphones themselves aren’t a relationship killer. Rather, these devices are synonymous with over-connectivity and distraction. You and your partner might intend to spend quality time together, then spend hours scrolling through TikTok rather than having any meaningful interactions.

Sleeping with a smartphone – Photo by: m01229 – Source: Flickr Creative Commons

This over-connectivity also creates ample opportunities for communication with others outside of your relationship. There’s a sense of unreality or disconnect that leads people to do or say things online that they might not do or say in person. 

It’s important to identify when smartphones are negatively impacting your relationship and work together to create healthy boundaries if you want to thrive as a couple.

Toxic Family Members and Friends

One of the worst relationship killers is the presence of toxic family members or friends. Fortunately, people are becoming more vocal about navigating toxic family situations and setting healthy boundaries to preserve the relationship. 

Unfortunately, toxic people know just what to say to manipulate and provoke those around them. It could be a mother-in-law that guilts her son about spending more time with his wife and children than her. It could be a friend who projects their own issues and disrespects the boundaries you have in your relationship.

The first step in preventing toxic people from ruining your relationship is to acknowledge that their behavior is wrong. Then, work with your partner to mitigate their impact on your lives and seek the resources needed to set healthy boundaries.

Poor Communication

Many couples struggle with communication. Whether it’s a lack of emotional intelligence or the inability to have constructive conversations, poor communication is a common relationship killer. It’s also the core issue that leads to many problems on this list.

Start by finding the right time to talk — ideally when no other distractions are present. Listen to what your partner is saying, and ask clarifying questions as needed. Don’t assume you understand without verifying their intentions first. 

anger and obsession
Anger – Photo by: Patrik Nygren – Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Choose your words intentionally, leaving blame and contempt out of the equation. Yes, those “I feel” statements are incredibly effective when utilized properly.

Remember, proper communication is synonymous with respect. Communicating effectively doesn’t mean that you won’t fight as a couple; it means that you can get through that fight without causing irreparable damage. 

Financial Issues

Financial problems are thought to be one of the most stressful situations in a marriage, and one of the leading causes of divorce. Communication, stress management, and other habits also play a role, but it’s not uncommon to find money at the root of it all.

One of the biggest challenges with financial issues is that there’s no quick or easy fix. You can work to improve your communication skills right now without any intervention or cost investment. You can schedule unplugged date nights to spend quality time together. You can’t wipe out credit card debt overnight while the bills are still rolling in. 

If financial issues are weighing you down as a couple, reach out to a financial advisor to help you create a clear plan forward.

Unresolved Trauma

If one or both partners are dealing with unresolved trauma from their youth, it can be a silent relationship killer. It’s often difficult to recognize when past experiences are playing a role in your current relationship. From trust issues to poor communication skills, these echoes of the past can be the undoing of what would be an otherwise healthy marriage.

Unresolved trauma often leads to bigger problems, such as ineffective coping skills, substance abuse, and poor financial habits. Consider reaching out to a counselor to help work through past traumas so they stop affecting your present (and future) relationship. 

Power Imbalance

Finally, a power imbalance in a relationship can also be devastating over time. In many cases, relationships with a severe power imbalance last longer than most. It’s not until later, when the situation suddenly changes, that someone realizes the impact the power imbalance has had.

For example, if it seems as though one person always gets the final say, or one partner is always apologizing to the other, there’s an imbalance. Identifying this issue and creating a plan to rectify it is a must for a healthy relationship.

Relationships are challenging. If your relationship is affecting your mental and physical health, it might be time to consider seeking outside help or removing yourself from the situation entirely.