Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about relationships and how to tell if one is in an unhealthy relationship. I thought about this, because being able to discern that is fairly important since once you know, you discern how unhealthy it is and either repair it – if the other person is willing to help repair it – or end it.
My last relationship started out healthy, at least in my perspective, for both of us felt accepted and were able to maintain friendships outside of our relationship. We communicated our thoughts, emotions, desires, needs, and wants quite well at first, and we were honest with each other. Our self-esteem did not rely on each other, nor did my happiness rely on her. However, our levels of togetherness was out of balance because it was long distance. This placed some stress on our relationship. Other stressors appeared due to various situations and a slow breakdown in communication, which unbalanced our relationship greatly. It is when these types of situations arise and the relationship becomes unbalanced that it is important for the two people involved to be able to achieve balance again. Without this skill, the relationship cannot return to its healthy balanced state and may become more and more askew, where unhealthy characteristics may appear. Communication, honesty, trust, love, empathy, acceptance, and reciprocation are all necessary ingredients to help nourish and maintain a healthy relationship.
Here are some general characteristics for both healthy and unhealthy relationships:
In a Healthy relationship:
- * Each person feels responsible for his/her own happiness.
- * Each person is responsible for his/her self-esteem.
- * Togetherness and separateness are balanced.
- * Relationships are established and maintained outside the partnership.
- * Each person communicates effectively: open, honest, assertive, clear, being willing to listen.
- * The opportunity exists for support and growth – for each person and the couple.
- * Finds commitment acceptable.
- * Accepting each other.
- * Each person has established healthy, comfortable limits or boundaries.
- * A willingness to recognize when the relationship is changing.
- * Brings out the best qualities of both people.
- * Each person feels the freedom to ask honestly for what is wanted.
- * Accepts endings. (Realizes life will go on if you break-up.)
- * Achieves intimacy without use of chemicals.
- * Each person feels like an individual.
In an Unhealthy relationship:
- * One or both partners rely on the other partner for their happiness.
- * One or both partners rely on the other for their self-esteem.
- * Levels of togetherness are out of balance. (One of the big reasons long-distance relationships are a very bad idea.)
- * There is an inability to establish and maintain relationships with others.
- * One or both partners are unable to communicate effectively: being passive or aggressive, beating around the bush, unwilling to listen, avoidance
- * Lack of opportunity for individual and/or relationship growth.
- * Attachment, addiction, or lack of commitment.
- * Tries to change the other person.
- * Limits and boundaries are poorly established.
- * The illusion that the relationship will always be the same.
- * Brings out the worst qualities of both people.
- * One or both partners feel unable to express needs or desires.
- * Unable to let go.
- * Uses alcohol/drugs to reduce inhibitions, create false sense of intimacy.
Like I said before, not all relationships will be one hundred percent healthy or one hundred percent unhealthy all of the time. Relationships are a delicate work in progress, a balancing act, but as long as the relationship has communication, love, empathy, honesty, trust, acceptance, and reciprocation, it becomes a lot easier to maintain balance and keep the relationship healthy.