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How Can a Bad Attitude Affect a Dating Relationship?

by Anna Green

Having an “attitude of gratitude” does not come naturally to some people, especially in dating relationships. If you have been hurt in the past or lack confidence in yourself or your partner, this can lead to a bad attitude. Although your feelings may be legitimate, this type of attitude can negatively affect your dating relationships, including your behavior toward your partner.

Attitude and Behavior

Your attitude affects your behavior in many ways. "Bitterness hurts, emotionally, spiritually and physically," clinical psychologist and marriage counselor Randi Gunther writes in "Psychology Today" in her article "Bitterness: Love's Poison." If you have a negative attitude -- for example, if you are cynical about relationships, then you will behave accordingly. For instance, your cynical attitude might lead you to make snide remarks toward your partner or make comments indicating that you do not trust him. Likewise, if you have a negative attitude, this might lead you to be impatient with your partner or lose your temper during minor disagreements.

Negativity Begets Negativity

If you are persistently negative toward your partner, it is likely that you will get negative feedback in return. “How information is exchanged between couples…-- whether with warmth or negativity -- clearly affects outcomes of how you feel when you walk away from the experience,” explains Dr. Julie Chen in the "Huffington Post" piece, "How Negative Thoughts Affect Everything in Our Life." Additionally, when you approach your partner with a negative attitude, it is possible that he or she will become defensive or hurt by your words and behavior, particularly if your negativity is stemming from past issues, not problems with your current partner.

Problem-Solving Skills

MayoClinic.com explains that replacing negative thoughts with positive ones increases your ability to deal with stressful situations and solve problems constructively. In other words, when you have negative thought patterns, you may be less able to resolve common conflicts that come up in dating relationships, including differences in opinion, jealousy and scheduling conflicts. At later stages in the dating relationship when the stakes are higher, negativity might make it difficult for you to compromise with your partner or find mutual resolutions to problems.

Changing Your Attitude

Attitude is not a fixed trait. In other words, you can make a conscious effort to change a bad attitude into a positive one. If you find that you are attracting negative dating partners or have difficulty keeping a partner because of your attitude, take time to examine both your beliefs and your behaviors. One simple way to do this is to look at your “automatic thoughts” -- that is, those ideas that pop into your head without conscious effort, explains Robert Safion, LMHC in his private practice's article "Automatic Thoughts, Intermediate and Core Beliefs." For example, if you tell yourself “my boyfriend is going to cheat on me,” take note every time you think this and replace it with a more positive thought, such as “my new boyfriend has been nothing but trustworthy and honest.”

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.

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