How to Recognize Unhealthy Relationships
What are unhealthy relationships? How do you know if you’re in one? And what can you do to make yours healthier? No relationship is perfect. All of us have things that we would like to change about our relationships. These might be small issues like wanting more affection, openness or fun in your relationship or they may be more serious problems like verbal or physical abuse or an issue like alcoholism or drug addiction in one or both partners.
So what defines unhealthy relationships? Before we begin to unravel what make a relationship unhealthy we need to learn to recognize a healthy relationship. Without knowing what is good and constructive in a relationship it is hard to spot an unhealthy one. Experts tell us that healthy relationships are built on honesty and that healthy couples share a sense of fun.
In healthy relationships partners feel able to laugh together and feel free to discuss issues related to sexuality without feeling threatened. It may also mean accepting that moodiness, disagreements and mistakes can and will occur and that they do not discredit the relationship or the individuals concerned. Unhealthy relationships tend to be more controlling and lack acceptance of less than perfect events.
In healthy relationships both partners accept that they are different from each other and don’t try to control their partner’s actions or reactions. In most healthy relationships the partners share some of the same interests, though perhaps not all. In unhealthy relationships the partners may not feel accepted for who they really are or feel that they have nothing in common.
Some degree of physical attraction is also important to the health of a relationship. Being good friends is often the cornerstone of a positive relationship, as is taking time and effort to sort out disagreements. In a good relationship you should not have to change the person you are. People in unhealthy relationships often claim to have lost the physical attraction they used to have for their partners. They might also feel that their partner has become an enemy rather than a friend.
Of course such issues are just the tip of the iceberg. Couples in unhealthy relationships often do not know why they are unhappy, only that they are. They often feel that they are not being heard by their partners or are being misunderstood when they try to communicate. If you feel that your relationship is in trouble you need to start communicating with your partner about your real feelings. Only by talking openly can problems be dealt with constructively.
If you feel you need the help of a third party, don’t be shy to approach a relationship or marriage counselor. Therapists are skilled and experienced in spotting the pitfalls of unhealthy relationships and can guide you in more effective communication and behavior that may just save your relationship.