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People don’t always see their unhealthy relationships clearly. Feeling like something is off, uncertain of your connection, or fearing open discussions are all signs that a relationships health is in trouble.
Relationship health is a sensitive subject. Getting help with a relationship means admitting there are issues. Relationship issues are stigmatized because many people are taught to have rigid boundaries. When certain events take place, people are taught they need to immediately change their relationship situation and seek out a new relationship or have none at all.
This approach is harmful for many reasons but mainly because it drives people away from seeing the health of their relationship without bias. Believing an unhealthy relationship is to be thrown away rather than taken care of creates blind spots where people are unable to see themselves and their partners clearly.
Characteristics of Unhealthy Relationships
Regardless of which type of relationship you’re in, there are characteristics of unhealthy relationships that can be identified. The health of a relationship depends greatly on communication and met needs. When either is unattended, the relationship health is impacted.
Here are some characteristics of unhealthy relationships:
- Feelings of unworthiness
- Anxiousness without apparent cause
- Feelings of relief when away from your partner
- Fantasizing about a different life or partner
- Justifying deceit or dishonesty
Signs of an unhealthy relationship are helpful. Seeing what needs to be tended to gives you an opportunity to strengthen that area of your relationship. You don’t have to give up on someone you love because of unhealthy behaviors.
How to Tell Your Relationship is Unhealthy
Knowing the characteristics is helpful but there are many reasons people have anxiety without knowing the underlying cause. You don’t necessarily have an unhealthy relationship because you have identified certain characteristics.
Evaluating the health of your relationship depends on each individual. Know the characteristics and then identify your personal participation.
When you notice characteristics of an unhealthy relationship, are you able to open up to your partner about that? Do you tend to share your feelings as they come or hold everything in until you bubble over?
3 Ways to Tell You’re Relationship is Unhealthy
- You lack vulnerability in expressing your feelings or needs
- You don’t have a plan or goal for the relationships
- You have secretly unmet needs
Communication is the life of a relationship. It’s how you connect with your partner and get your needs met. Without the right communication, you and your partner will become disconnected.
Being disconnected often leads to resentment which can show up as:
- passive aggressive behaviors
- avoiding certain topics
- lack of intimacy
You can avoid building resentment for your partner by communicating your feelings as they come. Take time to identify your feelings and core needs clearly, communicate with compassion and respect, and ask your partner directly for what you need.
You can’t control your partner’s resentment but you can open up about what it means to be connected and how you want to have a closer relationship. A partner with shared goals and aligned values will be able to meet you at this request.
Turning Unhealthy Relationships into Healthy Ones
When you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, you can take steps to fix it. Relationships are an investment. Your loved ones are important to you and seeing where a healthy connection can be made is an act of love.
The first step to turning an unhealthy relationship into a healthy one is taking care of yourself. Get familiar with your feelings and needs. Learn to communicate with yourself first. Evaluate your boundaries, routines, and self-care.
The next step you’ll want to take is connecting with your loved one. Let them know your concerns about the relationship and the steps you believe can help. Approach your loved one with compassion and respect but be sure to have your own firm boundaries established in advance.
Turning an Unhealthy Relationship into a Healthy One:
- Take care of self first
- Identify your feelings and needs clearly
- Decide what boundaries you need in your life
- Communicate with compassion and respect
- Be realistic about the outcome
Growing from Unhealthy Relationships
Unhealthy relationships often spread into other areas of your life. Noticing the impacts takes time but starting with basic self-care and routines is a great way to calibrate your own lens so you know what steps you need to take.
Be realistic about the outcome. Not every relationship can be made healthy again. Relationships take work, commitment, aligned goals, and a choice to continue growing. Whether or not someone is capable of committing to a healthy relationship is a reflection of their emotional capacity.