Sadie Holloway is a workshop facilitator who teaches interpersonal communication skills to help people strengthen their relationships.
Does your relationship make you feel like this?
Have you ever found yourself in a bad relationship and wondered how things got so out of control?
Did you think, 'If only I knew the signs of a destructive relationship, I could have ended things sooner and been happier'? Do you have a friend who seems to end up in one toxic relationship after another?
If you are wondering if it is time to leave your partner, break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend or get a divorce, being able to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship can help you decide what to do next.
But always remember, no matter what you read or what advice other people try to give you, you are the only one who can decide what is best for you. You are the number one expert on your own life.
First, in order to understand what a bad relationship looks like, it’s important to understand what a good relationship looks like. In your current intimate relationship do you:
- Feel respected for who you are, just as you are?
- Feel calm, relaxed and at ease when you are around your partner?
- Feel comfortable expressing an opinion that is different from your partner's?
- Feel like an equal partner in your relationship, striving towards common goals while also helping each other achieve personal goals?
When you feel happy, secure and respected, you're experiencing what it means to be truly in love. You have room to love yourself unconditionally and your partner wants to be with you without wanting to change you in any way.
A healthy relationship should make you feel like this!
Your partner or spouse gives you compliments and positive feedback
Your partner or spouse puts you down and criticizes you
Your partner or spouse lets you make your own decisions
Your partner or spouse tries to make decisions for you
Your partner or spouse is polite and respectful to strangers
Your parter or spouse is rude and aggressive towards others
Your partner shares chores and responsibilities
Your partner does not take care of his/her share of household responsibilities
You partner is always fair and honest
You see your partner lying to and cheating others, which means he or she could do the same to you
You and your partner show affection to one another
Your partner withholds affection and intimacy
Your partner treats you with respect in front of others and privately
Your partner tries to humiliate you, make you look stupid or pulls cruel pranks on you.
What are the signs of a healthy relationship?
You feel comfortable asking for help from your partner. Asking for help could be something task-oriented, like asking for more help with the housework. It could be an emotional request such as, “I need you to listen to me while I tell you about how awful my day was." You don’t feel weak or guilty or helpless asking for help from your partner. Instead, both you and your partner see helping one another as reminders of what a great team you are together. You both know that asking for help gives the other person a chance to express care and concern for each other.
You both find healthy, safe ways to express your feelings of sadness, anger or anxiety. It’s OK to disagree with your partner about something. It’s OK to feel sad when something bad or unexpected happens. It’s OK to feel anxious or stressed out about work sometimes. What’s not OK, and this is what happy couples know, is using hurtful words, aggressive body language or insults and put-downs towards each other. No matter how frustrated you are, violence is never the answer.
The strongest couples can admit their need to reach out to each other. They aren’t afraid to ask for affection or warmth from each other. They feel comfortable asking for what they need from their partner and they are willing to give that same love and affection in return. Strong, happy couples know when to talk and when to listen.
Both of you know that there is no such thing as a perfect marriage or ideal intimate love relationship. That’s why you are both committed to working on your relationship, not to make it perfect or ideal, but to keep it thriving and dynamic. Both of you know that “Happily ever after” is something that looks good up on the silver screen, but doesn’t always pan out in love and life.
All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest - never vicious or cruel. Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principles of equal partnership.
— Ann Landers
Self-love is one of the most important elements of true love
Being in love with yourself is essential to finding true love because it opens up your heart and teaches you how to give and receive love from others. Here are five reasons to love yourself unconditionally before you start searching for true love:
- People who don’t love themselves have a hard time believing that they deserve to find true love.
- When you hold yourself in high regard, you hold others in high regard, too.
- Self-love lets you give and receive in a healthy and balanced manner. You neither give too little nor too much of yourself in your love relationship. You are comfortable talking about intimacy and expecting respect and equality in your marriage or love relationship.
- Loving yourself means you have faith in your ability to make sound decisions. And that makes almost any challenge in life easier to tackle, including the search for love that lasts.
- When you replace self-doubt and self-consciousness with self-love and self-awareness, you can turn your attention to where it is most needed, being the best you, you can possibly be!
What are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?
The number one sign that you are in an unhealthy relationship is the fact that you have doubts about whether or not your marriage or intimate relationship is normal. Here are a few other things to watch for if you want to get away from relationships with the wrong people.
Do you feel the need to hide or cover-up the way your spouse behaves? This could be a sign that you are in an unhealthy relationship. Keeping up appearances is exhausting. It’s not a way to live an authentic and abundant life. If you feel ashamed, embarrassed or uncomfortable about your partner's words and actions, ask yourself how long you are willing to pretend that everything is OK. How much energy do you have to keep pretending that you are a “normal, happy” couple?
Lack of trust.
If you feel like you are being questioned about everything you do or everyone you talk to, that’s a strong warning sign that this could turn out to be a bad relationship.
Strong differences in values, morals and beliefs could be a problem in the future.
It’s OK to have differences of opinion on décor or food or entertainment choices. But if you and your partner can’t agree on important life issues such as money management, having and raising children or human rights and religious issues, the health of your relationship will eventually suffer.
Your family and friends feel uncomfortable around your partner.
Have you noticed that the invitations to parties, get-togethers and special events have suddenly dropped off? This could be a sign that something is not right. If people are avoiding your partner, pay attention to what's going on.
Your friends and family are concerned about your health and well-being.
They are asking questions about your relationship. They are expressing an unusual amount of interest in your home and family life. They may have even come right out and said, “I think you are in a bad relationship and I am worried about you!”
If you notice that you have been feeling sad, anxious or depressed about your relationship, that’s a sign that something may be wrong. It may be time to ask yourself if this is the right person for you to be with. If you think you have wound up in a bad relationship, don't blame yourself. Mental, emotional and physical abuse are never your fault. You deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2013 Sadie Holloway