How to Ruin a Good Relationship

Lots of people are looking for the right relationship. Yet, so often these same people will then contribute to the demise of what otherwise might have been a very good relationship.

A few examples:

A woman thinks she has found a new friend. She becomes acquainted with another woman at work who is about her same age and they come from a similar background. They enjoy going to lunch and talking, and seem to have much in common. Yet, in a few months, the relationship ends and yes, there is lots of drama. This seems to happen again and again.

A minister and his wife have recently moved to a new community where he has begun working with a church in this new setting. He is excited about the new possibilities. Yet, in less than twelve months, it all changes. He is in major conflict with this congregation.


A guy and girl meet and everything seems right. She seems to have so many qualities that he has always wanted in another person. She thinks the same about him. In fact, this relationship seems “special.” Yet, in a matter of months things change. In spite of what they have invested in the relationship, neither will address his or her own issues.

Very often, the one phrase that might be repeated in each of these situations is:

“I just don’t know what happened.”

A few observations:

1. New relationships are often great opportunities to grow, mature, and develop. Yet, for many people these relationships are just another occasion to make the same old mistakes again and again. For example, a person with much pent-up anger may find that his anger seems to be a recurring issue in his relationships. Yet, if this anger is never really dealt with, he will walk away from the ashes of a broken relationship, concluding that the end is due to the other person and her issues.

2. Very often, there are some identifiable patterns that begin to emerge as we look back at our past relationships. For example, some ministers have certain patterns regarding their ministry. They enter a congregation full of hope and promise. They believe that this congregation is really good (not like the last one). This church has good elders, good deacons, etc. Then, some sort of conflict happens. The minister is very “willful” and angry in the way he handles himself. Often the intensity of the conflict seems much greater to the church than it does to this minister. (“Everybody loves me here. I just have a few people who seem to have it in for me.”) Little does he know that this is “the beginning of the end.”

3. Some people will not seek help because of their own blindness, pride, or fear. Perhaps they are afraid of the pain that is deep within and rather than face the pain and mature, they try to avoid dealing with it. In the meantime, pain that is not addressed can often be a negative energy that destroys good relationships.


1. Focus on being the kind of person you ought to be instead of finding the kind of person you desire.

2. Get help for your pain (especially pain that is deep and/or traumatic). Yes, it can be frightening to face the pain. Many people simply try to avoid dealing with pain, thinking that it will go away. Yet, working with a good counselor to process such pain can be absolutely freeing!

3. Pay attention to clues regarding destructive patterns in your life. Is there a pattern of anger or perhaps conflict avoidance? Are there other unhealthy patterns in your own behavior that continue to reoccur?


What do you need to do right now for your own well-being and to avoid needlessly ruining a good relationship? What have you been avoiding? What could you do this week that might be a step of courage?   


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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