Relationships are so important, and there will always be ups and downs, but what is the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship?
You will recognise a healthy relationship by certain key ingredients. There will be open, honest, safe communication, where you feel you can openly discuss anything and disagreements are handled fairly and with compromise. You will treat each other with kindness and support, encouraging each others dreams, building each other up and promoting good self esteem and inspiring each other to be a better person. You respect each others wishes and feelings, and you will most likely be on the same page in terms of your life goals and values, and there will be a strong sense of trust between you. There will also be respect for each others privacy and boundaries, and your identity will be separate from your partners.
You will also know you are in a healthy relationship by how you feel when you are with the other person. Ask yourself how you feel when you are with them and how you feel when you come away from spending time with them. Do you feel comfortable, happy, safe and good about yourself when you are around them? Do you come away after spending time with them feeling energized, treasured, listened to, encouraged, safe, understood? Do you feel like your needs were met?
But how do you know if your relationship is unhealthy?
An unhealthy, or toxic relationship can leave you feeling uncomfortable, sad and even afraid. Your partner may be condemning and judgemental, and they often seem angry or annoyed with you for something you may not have even done. They don’t support you and they trivialize your feelings, even making you feel like your feelings are invalid. You know they cannot be trusted to keep your private business confidential, and they may even gossip about you and remind you and others of your past mistakes. They may lie to you and try to twist your perception of reality, which causes you to doubt yourself. You may find yourself covering up their behaviour by putting on a brave face, or deny to friends and family that there is a problem and pretend everything is ok. In extreme cases, they may manipulate you and use a form of brainwashing tactics that might cause you to lose your sense of identity and self worth.
Again, ask yourself how you feel when you are around them? Do you frequently feel anxious and unsure of yourself? You may experience times of stress, depression and trauma, and feel the need to monitor or correct yourself for saying or doing the wrong thing around them, or feel like you are constantly on the defence. And do you only feel this way when you are around them or have spent time with them, yet you don’t feel like this around other people? Do you feel significantly more confident, happy and free when you are away from them?
Another sign you might be in an unhealthy relationship is the fact that you are reading this article, and reading about this subject. You might start googling ‘signs of a toxic relationship’ and looking for information and help. We don’t do that when we are in healthy relationships!
So, does any of this sound familiar to you? Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions, or do you recognise yourself or your relationship? Have you ever wondered why you find yourself in unhealthy relationships?
So what can you do about it?
It can be hard to admit to ourselves and others that our relationships might be in trouble, and we don’t always recognise the signs, even though we know we might be feeling unhappy, lonely, frightened, isolated or confused. You may feel overwhelmed and powerless, unable or too scared to speak up or end the relationship. Acknowledging the problem, seeking help, educating yourself and keeping good boundaries is the best way to have healthy relationships. If any of these behaviours sound familiar, please talk to someone about it. There are plenty of resources and options for couples and individuals seeking help or support including helplines, self help books, online support, blogs, YouTube videos, and counselling. Connect with your support networks: talk to friends and family members, teachers or others to make sure you are getting the emotional support you need. If you feel unsafe or in danger in your relationship, it is important to get help and support as soon as you can.
How can Hopeful Heart help?
Has this article been helpful to you? Do you recognise any of these signs in your life or relationships? Do you think you might be in a relationship with a controlling, manipulative person? The solution is not to try and change them or even change yourself, but to recognise the signs and learn how to protect yourself from manipulative people and toxic relationships. I can help you explore these issues and identify any blind spots you might not be aware of so you can embark on healthy relationships.
Call or email me and let’s talk about it.