1. Poor bathroom etiquette.
It doesn’t have to be one of those weird relationships where the woman has to travel to a truck stop on the state border in the middle of the night in order to do a number two, but let’s try to keep at least a minimal veneer of discretion. People who start pooping and farting and being generally gross with complete impunity around their loved ones are people who have given up on romance. I’m sorry, but there are some things that should remain at least somewhat personal. And sometimes, life happens, but there is no reason to abandon every effort to be a little respectful when it comes to your bodily functions.
2. Using sarcasm when your partner is actually angry.
There is a time and a place for sarcasm, and it is never when someone is genuinely angry about something. Sarcasm during a fight is the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a house fire and then calling the fire department to be like “I don’t even know what happened, man!!!!”
3. Dominating the food aspect of the relationship.
Food is one of the most essential, democratic pleasures in life. If you are always picking the restaurant, taking the last slice, or deciding what is going to be made for dinner, there is a high chance that your partner is dying inside of a slow, withering kind of sadness. Everyone deserves the autonomy when it comes to food — at least once in a while — and denying them that is just cruel and unusual punishment. I mean, my boyfriend loves those really big white asparagus steamed into flaccidity and drizzled with olive oil. I think that they are the mushy penises of the food world. But sometimes, we have them, and that’s because I love him and his gross phallic food. <3
4. Mooching off your partner’s belongings.
Just because they’re not a roommate doesn’t mean you don’t have to respect their boundaries. If you use up all their toothpaste, have the decency to replace it. It just adds that extra touch of “I care about you and don’t want you to feel taken advantage of” that takes any relationship to the next level.
5. Bringing the smartphone into romantic moments.
Ohhhhh myyyyyy goddddd, I have to stop doing this. I just can’t let my baby white Galaxy S4 go (#TeamGalaxy #TeamiPhoneIsForPlebes #TeamUpgradeUrWholeLife #TeamMacLaptopButAndroidPhone #TeamAllMyProgramsAreGoogleAnyway #TeamWhoTheHellUsesItunesAtThisPoint #TeamGetOnMyLevel) no matter how bad I know it is. In all seriousness, though, it turns a romantic dinner in one of those sad “let’s never be that couple” moments. It turns sex into an incredibly stilted, disappointing affair. It turns life into a distraction that keeps you from scrolling through your Instagram. It’s just negative.
6. Spilling the company secrets.
In this instance, the “company” is your relationship, and the “product” is your solid foundation of trust and discretion. Whether it’s taking to your blog to talk about that hilariously zany time he couldn’t get it up, or telling a friend all about the way she goes batshit insane if you change the channel on Real Housewives, it’s just so uncool. There are some things that are meant to remain intimate, and slowly chipping away on the exclusives that the two of you are getting on one another’s inner workings is a one-way ticket to the Resentment Resort on Ill-Will Island.
7. Only pretending to listen when they’re talking about their day.
That is where the feels are stored, don’t let them wash over you without absorbing a single one. Couples are all about being a sounding board for one another’s feels, respect that moment of intimacy.
8. Making fun of something they’re insecure about.
It may be no big deal to you, but if they are really stressed out over their weird, patchy eyebrow, don’t jokingly call them Patchy McEyebrows The Follicle Pirate, because it’s only going to make them feel really bad and self-conscious about it. Occasionally a misguided boyfriend will make a comment about how much he “loves your little tummy,” and that is some Larry David shit. Please don’t say that. Little tummies are what babies have, and their round softness is only cute because they are eight months old. I’m not saying you need to tell her how hot her cheese-grater 12-pack is, but it’s probably best to stay away from the novelty body parts.
9. Mentioning an ex in almost any circumstance.
There’s basically no scenario in which this is a good idea. Trust, they’re weirdly obsessed enough as it is. There’s no reason to rub salt in the open wound that is the fact that you used to bang and love someone else. The damage is already done.
10. Greeting them with complaints or orders.
I admit that I am so guilty of this, but it’s just so hard: You’re thinking of some petty thing all day — “Why did you not remember to fix the curtain rod before you left this morning!?!!” — and it’s like you can’t not go off about it to a completely disproportionate degree when they walk through the door. But if you give it even a minute of thought/measured breathing, it’s so clear that it’s basically the worst thing you can do to another human to just unload your frustrations on them the second they walk through the door. Start of with a kiss or a compliment, and then rain down upon them with the fire of a thousand dying suns.
11. Not noticing when they change something.
It takes two seconds, bro. Just tell her that her hair looks nice. Even if you’re not sure — and I know, sometimes it’s hard to tell when someone has removed ten inches of something from the top of their head — play it safe and be like, “Hey, did you do something new? You look great.” That shit goes so far in life.
12. Not reserving time for date nights.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of ‘job-food-sleep-TV’ that you forget how good it feels to take some special time with your partner just to gaze into one another’s eyes and be that shitty couple on the metro who won’t stop fondling each other while everyone avoids eye contact. Date nights are crucial, no matter how long you’ve been together, and not giving one another that moment of attention is the fastest way to ensure that they become a bland, ubiquitous, porridge-like presence in your life.
13. Giving up your friend time little by little.
On the opposite end of the Unhealthy Relationship Spectrum from ‘not having date nights’ is ‘whittling away your sacred bro/girl time because you have gotten into this weird wormhole of ‘my partner is the only friend I need.’ Everyone needs their time to blow off a little steam, be the person they are with their friends, and not have to think about being one half of a functional couple for a while. Even if this lack of friend time doesn’t immediately erode your sanity, it’s guaranteed to build up a soapy scum of resentment after a while. There is nothing wrong with a friend-partner balance. It is, in fact, the key to smooth sailing.