As Valentine’s Day approaches it gives everyone a chance to re-evaluate their relationships. I wanted to showcase what healthy relationships look like and also what unhealthy ones look like.
No one’s perfect and you might fall into unhealthy behaviors at times but it’s so important that your relationship be more healthy than unhealthy. I’m very aware of what unhealthy relationships look like.
In my first relationship, we both did and said completely loathsome things to one another. It was 100% toxic and full of lies and manipulation. (On both sides)
My second relationship was controlling and very off and on (on both sides).
In my third relationship, I was the problem. I was jealous, controlling, manipulative, extremely up and down, and verbally abusive while they were patient, kind, non-reactive, and understanding – at least until the point that they couldn’t take my verbal abuse any longer and they created a firm boundary and ended things with me.
That relationship made me see that I wasn’t always the victim.
I had A LOT of things I needed to work on and deal with. I could either perpetuate the cycle of abuse or I could figure out why my reactions were the way they were.
So I was single, or with no serious relationship, for almost five years. I learned so much. It transformed into someone who was mentally healthy, who was confronting anxiety, depression, low self-worth and who was learning coping skills and self-love.
I started this blog during that time.
In my fourth relationship I entered it with coping skills, with accountability, and feeling like I had my shit together. It was the most toxic relationship in my history. I was verbally abused, gaslit, financially taken advantage of, lied to, cheated on – and I stayed. Even more than that – I basically accepted it.
I came to recognize that part of me felt like I deserved it and the other part of me was stuck in savior-complex mode of “I can love this person like I wish someone would have loved me and it will make a difference.” and I crashed and burned on all levels.
And now in my marriage, I am healthy. I am happy. And the difference is terrifying sometimes because how can something really feel so wonderful and still be real? But it is real and I wish I could go back and tell myself, especially in my last relationship, that I deserved more, and that there was more out there waiting for me.
Let’s talk about the difference of healthy love vs unhealthy love.
Respects Boundaries: No means no. They don’t persuade or argue you into doing things that make you uncomfortable or go against yourself.
Encourages Growth: We never stop growing and in healthy relationships that growth is encouraged. Support systems are essential.
Honest Communication: Being able to say “I feel ___ because of ____” is one of the most powerful aspects of communication I’ve ever learned, even though it’s so simple.
Willing to Compromise: Being able to meet in the middle is also important. It’s a delicate balance of wants vs needs of everyone involved.
Grows Together: Your relationship won’t be the same as it was when you first started dating, embrace those changes instead of wishing for the past.
Works Through Problems: Ignoring problems creates a layer of resentment. Even if you hate communicating – do it anyway.
Affirms Feelings: Even when you don’t agree with or understand your partner’s feelings you have to respect their right to feel however they feel while acknowledging their point of view.
Focuses on Resolution: Focus on solving problems that you have together instead of who is “right”.
Respects Independence: You’re allowed to have friends and you’re allowed to have time alone if you need it, both are healthy.
Knows Love Languages: Understanding your partner’s love language means loving them in a way that they easily understand. Some people feel loved by kind gestures, others by words, affection, or gifts.
Trusts: It trusts in the stability and the foundation of what you have built together. It trusts in the other person.
Disregards Boundaries: Manipulates, cajoles, or argues you into doing things you do not want to do.
Resents Growth: Doesn’t celebrate personal milestones or is critical of positive changes.
Lies and Manipulates: Instead of communicating in ways where both people are heard there is lying and manipulation to get outcomes that benefit just one person.
Walks on Eggshells: One partner is afraid of upsetting or honestly communicating with the other.
Feels Controlling: You feel like you are being forced to be who someone else wants you to be.
Lacks Empathy or Compassion: Your feelings are not ever given validity. You are always wrong or stupid.
Feelings are Ignored: When you express your feelings or opinions they are ignored or dismissed.
Cycles of Breaking Up: There’s no stability in your relationship and during every conflict you break up.
Focuses on Blame: Instead of working toward solutions to problems it always turns into who’s to blame or who’s wrong.
Destroys Self-Esteem: Tears down your sense of self and makes you feel unlovable.
Lacks Trust: You don’t trust in your partner or the foundations of your relationships.