Defining an unhealthy relationship
Relationships are an integral part of our lives from the moment we are born to the day we kick the bucket. They are part of who we are and can be relationships between us and our families or even our friends, but the common thing among all kinds of relationships is that they are never perfect.
In this post, however, I will focus primarily on relationships that occur between couples who are romantically attracted to each other, that is, romantic relationships. So why are relationships so important that we try our best to be in one even though they have the potential to even hurt us? A short answer to this complex question is; Relationships generally enrich us, help us, and make us better and happier human beings, as our personal well-being and mental health are influenced by the nature of our relationships.
This brings us to the big question; What is an unhealthy relationship? To help us answer this question effectively, I will discuss what constitutes a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship is one that has honesty, trust, mutual respect, good communication, and a separate identity, among other qualities. An unhealthy relationship is therefore one that does not have any of the qualities mentioned above.
An unhealthy relationship is abusive and is marred by the need to control each other, either physically or emotionally. A relationship should allow us to grow, but when you are in an unhealthy relationship you are always scared and sad. An unhealthy relationship usually has a pattern and it is as follows:
This phase is characterized by a breakdown in communication, a gradual increase in tension. As a result of this tension, the victim generally feels the need to please or even calm the abuser.
This is the phase in which the tension that has been accumulating reaches its maximum point resulting in: emotional, physical or verbal abuse. The perpetrator usually uses threats, anger, and intimidation to keep you at bay and often blames you for the violence later on.
This is where the perpetrator makes a lot of excuses and may even apologize for his previous actions. However, the nature of the apology is never sincere, as the abuser generally downplays the seriousness of his or her wrongdoing and instead blames you for what happened.
In this phase, the entire incident is forgotten and you are on good terms and happy again. But not by much!
10 signs of a couple in an unhealthy relationship to watch out for
A relationship is made up of two very different people, and it is generally very healthy to make sure that you maintain that kind of independence in a relationship, even if the relationship is a collective entity. An unhealthy relationship does not have independence, since one of the members of the couple always depends on the other in emotional, psychological and even economic aspects. This type of relationship is often emotionally destructive, abusive, or one-sided, all of which constitute an unhealthy relationship. In healthy, independent, and fulfilling relationships, couples have their own hobbies and interests, opinions, and financial freedom.
2. Lack of respect
Respect is a main ingredient for any healthy relationship. When you are in a relationship that lacks respect, you will often be insulted, everything you do will always be questioned, your decisions and choices will always be questioned, and your limits will never be respected. A relationship that has respect is healthy, since couples listen to each other, communicate properly and give each other personal spaces, since they respect each other’s limits.
3. Too much jealousy
When it’s normal to be jealous in a relationship, that’s what we are! But when jealousy becomes excessive, it results in an unhealthy relationship. This can also be the case if you have a partner who is always trying to find ways to make you jealous. An overly jealous partner, for example, will end up controlling the other partner in their attempts to possess you. A healthy relationship is one that has partners who are able to control their jealousy, thus avoiding being clingy, unattractive, possessive, abusive and desperate.
4. Constant struggle
Relationships are never perfect, which means that from time to time they are expected to cross each other’s path. The difference between an unhealthy relationship and a healthy one is how often these conflicts occur and also how a couple handles them when they arise. A healthy relationship has some fights from time to time and when that happens, the couple solves the problem easily since they have good communication. These kinds of disagreements even make the couple stronger! But when you are in an unhealthy relationship, you and your partner always have fights that never end.
5. Unnecessary and endless criticism
A relationship that has constructive criticism is very healthy since it allows the couple to be the best and work on their weaknesses. But a relationship where there is too much unjustified criticism is an unhealthy relationship. Destructive criticism generally involves name calling and deeply hurts the victim’s pride, negatively affecting the victim’s confidence and self-esteem.
One of the pillars of healthy relationships is honesty. A healthy relationship cannot exist without this essential quality. You know that you are in an unhealthy relationship when your partner is not open with you. In a healthy relationship, couples are often on the same page and are not hiding things from each other. So if you find that your partner is always hiding things from you or is always defensive and easily irritated, it should be a clear sign that you are in an unhealthy relationship, as your partner is a dishonest person.
7. Controlling behavior
This is one of the most common signs of an unhealthy relationship. A partner with controlling behavior tends to isolate you from your family and friends, constantly uses threats against you or even them, uses your guilt as a tool, and always overreacts. In a healthy relationship, couples often have a sense of reciprocity, care for each other, and ensure that each other’s support network is healthy and stable.
A healthy relationship does not have partners trying to manipulate each other. So you know that you are in an unhealthy relationship if you have a partner who uses tactics like using your guilt, convincing you to ignore your ambitions, and playing mind games with you to influence your way of life. A healthy relationship should not have one person using the other to serve their own selfish agenda.
9. Lack of communication
Good communication is one of the key qualities that make up a healthy relationship without it; the relationship is doomed. In a healthy relationship, couples freely communicate both the bad and the good, which allows them to be in a position to resolve any type of dispute and also bring them closer together. Lack of good communication in a relationship often leads to many misunderstandings and conflicts that never end.
In a healthy relationship, couples usually have some space for both of them to look at their individual lives. This is never the case in an unhealthy relationship, as your partner always limits your external involvement by having a say in who you see, what you do, and also what you talk to. In an unhealthy relationship, your partner separates you from the rest of the world in an attempt to gain more power and control over you.
Being in an unhealthy relationship is very demanding and exhausting. Instead of making you happy and allowing you to grow, unhealthy relationships make you sad, depressed, and prevent you from realizing your full potential. Knowing the signs of such relationships is very essential as it will allow you to know the type of relationship you are in early enough to take the necessary action.