Recognizing Unhealthy Relationships

One of the keys to obtaining a better life or living arrangement is to assess the quality of relationships that you surround yourself with. Do you surround yourself with loving relationships or unhealthy relationships? For someone that has a pattern or history with unhealthy relationships, the difference between the two may be difficult to decipher.

Healthy relationships are relationships that add to our well being, not subtract. They bring out the best of us by being supportive of our goals and our inner selves. Unhealthy relationships often cause us stress and subtract from our well being, often leaving us feeling depleted of energy.

Common symptoms of unhealthy relationships include sickness, stress, and a negative outlook of ourselves and our world around us. People who are accustomed to unhealthy relationships often stay cornered in situations like this because they do not recognize that there is another way of living. They might continue the unhealthy relationship indefinitely and never seek a better way of life for themselves or they may leave the unhealthy relationship, but not the pattern.

The life pattern is essentially the root of the problem. The pattern may have stemmed from family upbringing or any other form of influential relationship. The key is to recognize the behavior and identify where it is coming from.

A creative way to assess your patterns is to write it down. Take out a notebook that you know you will keep for years to come. Write down all the major relationships that you have had in your life. Your earliest form of relationship more than likely was a family member or someone acting in this form. Note how they showed you love. Then note how you reciprocated that love. Continue in a chronological order with any additional relationships you have had, i.e. friends, personal and love relationships.

Next make a column on your right hand side. Re-read your assessments in order, as you read through them determine whether they were healthy or unhealthy and mark it down in your right hand column. Having an overview of your relationships right before your eyes makes it easier to ‘look’ at. You may actually bring issues to attention that you were not aware of before. For some this may even be a rather emotional exercise, but be reminded it is an exercise encouraging growth and healthy behavior.

Whatever your circumstance take time to assess your own involvements and choices with relationships. Do you always pick a controlling relationship? Or do you always pick a relationship where you are the enabler? Are you respecting your own boundaries while you are in a relationship or are they being sacrificed? Are you always compromising your time and energy to please another? Or are you always compromising your morals or beliefs? Are you maintaining a balance with yourself and other activities? Or are you focusing so much on the other person that you are not taking care of other obligations and priorities?

All of these questions will help you identify the quality of choices you are making when you are choosing relationships. Once you identify your pattern, you can no longer deny an unhealthy relationship. Awareness will make your own behavior and the unhealthy relationship even more difficult to tolerate.

Once you identify your patterns and bring it fourth into awareness, the next process is change. Granted the other party involved will not always agree or like the change that you are going to make, but you have to take action for yourself. In the long run you both will suffer if even one of you is unhappy.

How can we avoid unhealthy relationships? By learning to love and care for ourselves regardless of whether or not someone is in our lives. Once we identify our own needs we can easily work with others feelings without interfering with our own. When we establish a relationship with ourselves, we no longer have to have ‘needy’ relationships. Instead we can re-teach ourselves to have ‘giving’ relationships.

Follow your intuition. If something doesn’t feel right to you with a relationship then pay attention to those feelings. They are there for a reason. Some people can grow together inside their relationships and some may have to grow apart. The key is to look at ourselves and our relationships in their truest light.

Know that each one of us is entitled to have a loving relationship or friendship. We are worthy of receiving love just as we are worthy of giving it. True partnership fills our cups with abundance, joy, and solidarity, a gift that multiplies within our hearts and our families’.