Recognizing the signs that you are in an unhealthy relationship is essential to making healthier choices going forward. Sometimes this may mean working through the issues and effects of unhealthy relationships while others this may mean leaving the relationship all together. No relationship is perfect and even the healthiest of relationships comes with challenges so it can be difficult to see the difference and address unhealthy trends. And even though this may be scary or difficult it is the only way to create the opportunity for happiness in this or future relationships you may have. Because unhealthy relationship patterns can occur in any relationship and be carried over from one relationship to another it’s imperative to recognize not only signs that you are in an unhealthy relationship but also unhealthy relationship trends that may occur in many of your relationships.
Signs You Are in an Unhealthy Relationship
Unhealthy relationship characteristics can be difficult to spot sometimes. Often, we avoid looking for them if they aren’t outright toxic because we fear the possible consequences of addressing them. It’s important to understand that when these signs of a bad relationship are ignored the relationship is already in extreme jeopardy and so is the well-being of both parties. Knowing that you are in an unhealthy relationship empowers you to make the changes necessary to improve your relationship or move on with confidence.
Check out these unhealthy relationship characteristics:
Poor communication is the number one factor in divorce. If this is a challenge in your relationship you may notice that even communicating simple things is difficult. One or both of you may struggle to communicate concerns or dissatisfaction, you may notice that there’s an expectation of just knowing what the other wants, or there may be frequent sarcasm, humiliation, or conflict in your communication.
Another sign that you are in a bad relationship is either (or both people) being controlling. This could include jealous or envious behavior, isolation, manipulation, and gaslighting. Controlling behavior is problematic and a big red flag whether it is obvious and active or passive and difficult to spot.
Loss of Self / co-dependence
No matter how much you may love another person you still need to maintain your own autonomy and sense of self. Losing yourself can be an effect of an unhealthy relationship or the cause for the unhealthy nature. Having your own interests, relationships, pursuits, and passions is essential for the health of your relationship. You are your first source of happiness, love, confidence, and security.
No relationship is completely balanced all the time. Sometimes one or the other of you may need more support, have more to give, or be more engaged. But this should go both ways. When one person is much more invested in the relationship and / or consistently contributing more that is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
Lack of Support
Not feeling supported and appreciated is a sure sign of an unhealthy relationship. You should know that your partner has your back, especially publicly, and is in your corner cheering you on through life. If they are competitive with you or to self-involved to show up for you that is problematic. Your partner needs be able to walk beside you through both challenging and celebratory times and vice versa.
Distrust and Dishonesty
A lack of trust and honesty is a sure sign of a bad relationship. This may indicate that you feel unsafe or that there has been a betrayal. But if it seems to be the case without any obvious cause there could be bigger underlying issues at play.
How to Cope With Being in an Unhealthy Relationship
Being in an unhealthy relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship is doomed or that all your future relationships will be unhealthy as well. Recognizing that your relationship is unhealthy is only the first step. Once you become aware it’s time to take action whether you hope to stay in the relationship or not. Here’s what to do next.
If you feel that you are in an unhealthy relationship it can be incredibly beneficial to seek support. This doesn’t mean that you have to confide in others about your relationship or that they need to validate your concerns. It can be helpful though to have supportive loving relationships that you can lean into while trying to address your unhealthy relationship.
Work on Yourself
Unhealthy relationships can take a toll on our self-confidence and self-esteem. Dedicating time and energy toward self-care, pursuing your goals and engaging in your interests can help you heal and bring your best to this or future relationships.
Make a Commitment to Change
It is important to understand that to improve your unhealthy relationship you both have to make a commitment to work on it and make changes. This can’t be done by only one of you. Whether you work to improve your current relationship or not you will still want to make a commitment to be more mindful of unhealthy relationship traits and changing your future relationship choices.
Get Professional Help
Professional help can save you a lot of time and energy trying to piece together the right course of action or change.
If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, know that you aren’t alone and you have options. But the first and most important step is simply recognizing it.