Editor's note: This article was originally published on Kim Blackham's blog. It has been republished here with permission.
Have you ever wondered what the most effective way to ruin a relationship would be? Below are nine simple and surefire ways to sabotage yours.
1. Criticize your partner, point out all his or her flaws, and demand that he or she fix them.
This kind of interaction will certainly help things fall apart quickly. The meaner and more cutting your tone, the better. And don't forget facial expressions. Make sure they are condescending and clearly communicate your disapproval.
2. Ignore your partner, shut him or her out, appear emotionless and totally unresponsive.
If you want to get the fights going and increase the fear and panic in your partner, this is the way to go. Talk logically and reasonably, and make sure to stick to the facts. Facts really don't matter in relationships as much as the connection, so if you stick to the facts, you are sure to back the relationship into a corner where it can begin to deteriorate.
3. Involve as many other people as possible – friends, family, church members, co-workers, etc.
The more you can talk negatively about your partner, the more damage you can inflict. As soon as everyone around you starts forming an opinion – based only on your side of the story of course, the more you can feel justified in your negative emotions and eventual decision to end the relationship.
4. Ignore any thoughts or concerns that your behavior actually impacts the other person
As long as you can stay focused on how the other person impacts you, and refuse to consider that you may impact him or her as well, negativity and resentment can thrive. If ending the relationship – or at least living in distress is your goal, it is imperative that you keep out the softness and understanding that comes from realizing you impact the dynamics of the relationship too. If you ever feel inclined to consider your role in things, quickly squelch those thoughts with memories of how the other person has wronged you.
5. Compare your partner to previous partners or your relationship together to relationships of other people around you.
Make sure and point out all the ways your partner falls short of the comparison. This is generally done best is snide, passive aggressive comments.
6. Spend time with other people of the opposite sex
Build friendships and emotional bonds with someone other than your spouse. You are lonely. You need to feel adequate and important again. Rather than turning to your partner and working to solidify the connection between you so that he or she can be your safe place, turn to someone else. Repeat often the phrase, "This is innocent. There is nothing wrong with me having a friend. It's not like we are doing anything wrong."
7. Focus only on sex
Believe the oft repeated lie that sex is the only part of a relationship that matters. At all costs, ignore the research that explicitly points out that pornography – on any level – is destructive. Convince yourself that since it is so widely availability and virtually anonymous, that it really doesn't hurt anyone and no one even needs to know.
8. Downplay any of your partner's accomplishments and achievements
Even though your partner needs your approval more than anything, you don't want your partner thinking he or she is doing a good job. That will only lead to a sense of safety and the idea that you care.
9. Most importantly, read all the contradicting pop relationship advice that you can find.
Whatever you do, do not focus on well researched and proven methods for improving relationships. Science has uncovered the way to have secure, loving relationships. It is not only possible, but also easier than most people imagine. Make sure you stay away from any hint or suggestion that relationships can thrive. Even the tiniest amount of hope is enough to keep you from living in distress or ending the relationship in despair.
Kim Blackham is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist. She has extensive training in sex therapy and sexual addition therapy and is a frequent contributor to both online and print media. As the wife of a surgeon, she is passionate about and uniquely qualified to help couples in medical marriages.