Is this relationship good for me?
There is often so much hype and pressure around celebrating certain times of the year, such as Valentines Day, with the love of our lives.
Wouldn’t this also be an ideal opportunity to take stock of our relationship?
Learning about what is healthy and unhealthy in a relationship would ideally be something we get taught in schools. How do we know what to look for if we haven’t been told? We don’t necessarily want to assume that what we saw as we grew up was 'right' or 'wrong'.
This can be particularly key when you are naturally a 'giver', or you get anxious easily about your relationships. Instead of dwelling on how 'great' our partner is, we must start to look at their behaviour, both with us and with other people.
Sometimes we must ask "Is this relationship good for me?", and to help you answer the question, here are eight commons signs of unhealthy relationships.
Eight signs of an unhealthy relationship
Their words and their behaviour are inconsistent
For example, they apologise for being rude to your mother and say they won’t do it again... and then they do it again... and again. Or they tell you how much your opinion matters about the holiday you want to plan together and how they want to know what you think and how you feel, so you tell them... only to find that a week later they are talking to you about it again and they have completely ignored what you told them already.
They never take responsibility for their actions
They will blame you, or the dog, or the neighbour, or the noisy fan! They are incapable of admitting when they have done something wrong. Not only does this indicate that they don’t know how to self-reflect, it means they are unlikely to grow as a person, ever.
They don’t accept how you feel
Either they simply do not believe you, or they tell you that you are wrong to feel the way you feel, so you end up feeling guilty and not trusting your feelings. Trust me - you have every right to feel how you feel. No one gets to tell you how you should feel.
They take away your support network
For no good reason, your partner doesn't like your friends and doesn't like them visiting. If you want to go out to see them, they either tell you that you can't, or they make it clear that they are displeased, and you begin to learn by experience that they will make you feel so bad and guilty you may as well not bother. This could happen with your family too. Or, your partner picks quarrels, using triangulation to set people against each other and generally sow discord.
You feel worse about yourself than before you started the relationship
Whilst every relationship has its ups and downs, a relationship should add to your life, bring you joy, and help you grow. If you feel more miserable, smaller, and less than, it's time to do some serious questioning.
You lie because you are ashamed of their behaviour
When friends ask you how everything is, you reply with 'fine' and either make something up or quickly switch the conversation back to them or some other topic. You may love your partner, but you don’t love their behaviour, and it's too embarrassing to admit to what goes on behind closed doors.
Everything has to be done their way
There is no give and take in the relationship. If you try suggesting an alternative way to do things, they don’t want to listen and may even accuse you of being disrespectful. Don’t buy into it.
You worry they will get so angry that they will hurt you
It is not OK in any relationship that you fear for your safety. Period. Know that support is available and you do not need to stay in an abusive relationship. If you need to talk to someone, visit Refuge, Women's Aid or ManKind.
If you think you are in an unhealthy relationship, what can you do about it? Remember that we can’t change other people - we have to start with ourselves. You need to get clear on what is OK for you and what isn’t. You can work on building up yourself so that you can speak up for yourself and know you deserve the best.
You might want to get some external support from a therapist or coach to help you understand what is going on for you, and how to address any issues with your partner. You might also want to check out online resources and support services if you think you might be in an abusive relationship.
What would a healthy relationship look like to you? How would you feel? What would you be doing? Remember that doing a regular relationship audit can help us pick up on issues early and address them so that they don’t fester and we don’t allow unhealthy relationship behaviours and patterns to grow. If you are asking "Is this relationship good for me?", start with what prompted you to ask that question in the first place.