Many of us grew up wanting to be in a love relationship fantasizing of meeting our prince charming. I remember thinking that I would someday get married and have a girl and a boy. To me that was my dream family. I was thirteen at the time. I started my first relationship, I met someone, we felt all kinds of emotions we thought was love. Before we knew it we were boyfriend and girl friend. Remember those adolescent relationships? I remember sitting in the window talking to Wayne for hours, we were next door neighbors. Then being young someone else came along and I told my sister to tell Wayne "quits".
Then I moved on for a cuter face. Then there was Anthony Harvey, he did not know I existed, I would listen to the Isley Brother song(Brown Eyed Girl) and think of him. I would see him at school and just wish that he noticed me. Then at some point as I really observed his personality, I realized I did not like him, he wasn't for me. LOL. Those were the days before marriage and abuse.
Relationships after that only lead to hurt feelings, and confusion. I married the wrong person and could not understand why I stayed so long with someone that caused me so much unhappiness. At some point I had to look inward meaning at myself. I had to ask myself some questions? I had to look at my childhood, what did I learn about romance, love relationships? What was my belief systems around marriage? I know I saw my mother in abusive relationships. I later realized that I did not know how to have a healthy relationship, there was some information that I did not have, some knowledge I did not learn. I had my own perception based on my childhood and watching others.
Well actually there are godly principles and a process that lead up to having a good relationship. Who knew? I didn't, but I remember thinking I did not want any relationship like my mother was in. Of course, that is exactly what happened. It was time to become emotionally intelligent. Can't learn that overnight. I had to be willing to take off my rose colored glasses and see life, men, people, myself through something called "reality". I became teachable. The journey has been a painful one but rewarding at some point as I could feel myself grow, mentally, spiritually, emotionally.
We must be willing to change, I learned this twenty eight years ago after I chose to start my recovery journey of healing from my dysfunctional childhood. Seeking professional help was a wise choice. I got tired of depression and anxiety and codependency(caring more for others than myself). I had unrealistic expectations and ignored some red flags that said "get out now"! I learned the power of choice, I learned the importance of being patient, honest with self, aware, mindful and to have love for myself. Not a perfect journey but a new one. It's been trial and error but lessons learned. I am still learning.
"The Healthy Mind Strategist"
Best Seller Author of "Tear the Veil"
What makes a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship is when two people develop a connection based on:
- Mutual respect
- Separate identities
- Good communication
- A sense of playfulness/fondness
All of these things take work. Each relationship is most likely a combination of both healthy and unhealthy characteristics. Relationships need to be maintained and healthy relationships take work. This applies to all relationships; work relationships, friendships, family, and romantic relationships.
What are signs of a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but you want to prevent prolonged mental stress on either member of the relationship.
Below are some characteristic that maybe present in your healthy relationships.
While in a healthy relationship you:
- Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship
- Maintain and respect each other’s individuality
- Maintain relationships with friends and family
- Have activities apart from one another
- Are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences
- Are able to feel secure and comfortable
- Allow and encourage other relationships
- Take interest in one another’s activities
- Do not worry about violence in the relationship
- Trust each other and be honest with each other
- Have the option of privacy
- Have respect for sexual boundaries
- Are honest about sexual activity if it is a sexual relationship
- Accept influence. Relationships are give and take; allowing your partner to influence you is important; this can be especially difficult for some men.
- Resolve conflict fairly: Fighting is part of even healthy relationships, the difference is how the conflict is handled. Fighting fairly is an important skill you help you have healthier relationships.
What are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?
At times all relationships will have some of the characteristics listed below. However, unhealthy relationships will exhibit these characteristics more frequently and cause you stress and pressure that is hard to avoid. This tension is unhealthy for both members of the relationship and may lead to problems in other areas of your life.
While in an unhealthy relationship you:
- Put one person before the other by neglecting yourself or your partner
- Feel pressure to change who you are for the other person
- Feel worried when you disagree with the other person
- Feel pressure to quit activities you usually/used to enjoy
- Pressure the other person into agreeing with you or changing to suit you better
- Notice one of you has to justify your actions (e.g., where you go, who you see)
- Notice one partner feels obligated to have sex or has been forced
- Have a lack of privacy, and may be forced to share everything with the other person
- You or your partner refuse to use safer sex methods
- Notice arguments are not settled fairly
- Experience yelling or physical violence during an argument
- Attempt to control or manipulate each other
- Notice your partner attempts to controls how you dress and criticizes your behaviors
- Do not make time to spend with one another
- Have no common friends, or have a lack of respect for each others’ friends and family
- Notice an unequal control of resources (e.g., food, money, home, car, etc.)
- Experience a lack of fairness and equality
If some of your relationships have some of these characteristics it does not necessarily mean the end of that relationship. By recognizing how these characteristics affect you, you can begin to work on improving the negative aspect of your relationships to benefit both of you.
When should I seek professional help for my relationship?
If a partner ever tries to harm you physically or force you to do something sexually that should be a clear sign for you that it is an unhealthy relationship. In that situation, you should consider getting help, or ending the relationship. Even if you believe the person loves you, it does not make up for the harm they are doing to you.
Other circumstances include:
- When you are unhappy in a relationship, but cannot decide if you should accept your unhappiness, try to improve the relationship, or end the relationship.
- When you have decided to leave a relationship, but find yourself still in the relationship.
- When you think you are staying in the relationship for the wrong reasons, such as fear of being alone or guilt.
- If you have a history of staying in unhealthy relationships.
Hall Health Center University of Washington