How do you know if you are in a healthy relationship?
There is really no way for anyone to look at your relationship, any type of relationship, friends or lovers, from the outside and tell you whether it is healthy or not. The only thing they really have in order to know anything is by whatever you tell them. If they don't see everything that goes on or try to stand in your shoes, then there is no way they could ever know exactly what happens behind closed doors. They also have their own past and experiences that influence what they say or how they react to the situations they see. People in our lives have a tendency to try and tell us what they think we need. It is one thing to be protective and to care about someone, it's another to force our feelings, opinions and past on others. You need to look at your own relationship and gage for yourself whether it is healthy or not. So today I want to look at things you need to look at for yourself and the relationship you’re in or want to be in.
1. Are you moving forward or just existing?
We all want to be moving forward, making positive changes in our lives that help us advance to what we think we should be doing for our age or where we are at in our adult lives. If you are in a relationship whether it's with a lover or just friends, you need to figure out what your goals are. What do you want for your life? Are you getting closer to that? If you are, then kudos to you, you're moving forward and the people in your life seem to be healthy for you. They keep you on the straight and narrow and don't try to keep you back. They allow you to gain ground and make positive changes in your life. They encourage you to keep going towards what it is that you want in your life. This is the sign of a healthy relationship.
If the people in your life are not encouraging you to grow, if they are not trying to give you positive input for changes you've made that increase who you are as a human then chances are they are not healthy for you. Take a hard look at where you want to be, who you really want to honestly be and see if this relationship is helping you get there.
2. Are you stepping up to advancement or sliding back in your life?
If you are moving forward, then you are stepping up and things are healthy in your life. The economy really sucks right now, and people are out of work, so you do need to take that into consideration, however, are you finding positive ways to make it through that? Are you dealing with it together or are you sitting just letting things happen to you or ignoring them? If you are dealing and you’re working together then you are stepping up to advancement in your life. You are looking at ways to communicate and to deal with it together, then that will give you strength in the future.
If you’re not, then the foundation in your relationship may not withstand the storm. If you aren't communicating and trying to find positive ways to deal with hardships then the chances are that the more storms you hit, the more it will crumble. If you are falling into old routines, doing things you did before that didn't work, or sliding backwards into an area of life that takes you away from your goals, then chances are that it is not healthy. You really need to look at the way you are handling things together and see how you want to adjust your lives to make them healthy.
These are all things you need to take a hard look at even though it may be uncomfortable to see. Some things we allow in our lives can be permanently damaging, those are things we need to find the strength to remove our blinders to see.
3. Is your relationship emotionally, verbally or physically abusive?
Domestic violence comes in many forms. It is not only physically abusive, which most people can spot for themselves right away, however, they are not always willing to leave or deal with it how it should be dealt with. It is the emotional and verbal abuse that begins before the physical abuse that causes this lack of self-esteem that keeps people from leaving or keeps them from feeling like they can leave. It is important to educate yourself, your friends and your family to what these signs can be. Unfortunately, like I said before, no one else can ever see what goes on behind closed doors.
Emotional abuse can be as subtle as making remarks about family members, friends or the other parent of your children. Making other people in your life look bad, people that you depend on for emotional strength or your children’s emotional strength, is a ploy to cut you off from other people in your life. Encouraging you to stay away from them because they feel they are unhealthy for you gives the offender more strength. It reduces the number of people in your life that may be healthy for you whether they always say positive things or not. Encouraging a disconnection with your support system is a way or reducing any factors that may get in the way of the abuser. If you see the person you are with reducing people in your life, encouraging you to stay away from people who have helped in positive ways before, then you need to take a hard look at the reason this person is in your life. Are people disappearing, the other parent of your children coming around less, your children becoming withdrawn or suffering? Are the people that love your children and help with them disappearing? Are you yourself disappearing? Are you picking up habits that you didn't have before, like drinking, not sleeping, spending less time with your kids? Are you experiencing physical pain? Physical pain is sometimes our bodies telling us that we are carrying more of a load emotionally than what we are actually seeing. Pay attention to your body and the signs it's giving you. Also, do your best to look at the people who they are encouraging to leave. Were these people more of a positive factor before this other person came in your life? Did they encourage you before? How has your life changed since this relationship started? It's hard when you've grown to care about someone to make a change or to want to see that you've made some mistakes, but it is better to face it before it advances into something worse, before they get you to a point where you depend on them so much that it will be hard to leave. A body needs two legs and they should be equal.
Verbal abuse is a little easier to see but sometimes the power of suggestion hits us without us knowing. Small, sarcastic things that people say to us can really affect how we feel about ourselves. It would be like telling a child they are stupid, idiots, disrespectful, liars, or lazy; saying it often, even as a joke, over the years will begin to make that child feel that is exactly what they are. This is verbal abuse. Any statements that affect how we feel about ourselves in a negative way is verbal abuse. When those statements drag us down far enough we will finally get to a point where we are vulnerable enough to feel that we don't deserve any more than what we have. This is usually when the physical abuse starts. Be sure to really look at how this other person is speaking to you, not only when you are alone but also when you are around other people. Listen to the words and watch for changes when other people are listening. Do they tend to make sarcastic remarks to friends? Are they making remarks under their breath to you or children that other people in their life don't care about them? That the children’s other parent doesn't care? I really don't care who you are, if you are not the parent of these children in these situations you have no right to make one remark about how the absent parent feels. You have no right to tell these children that anyone doesn't care about them or what that other parent might be doing while they're away from the kids. If you do, then you are verbally abusing those kids and you need to be away from them. Those kids have a right to make their own choices about how they feel about their parents and you have no right to interfere or get in the way. You are stunting their emotional growth. Kids need to feel those connections and react to those relationships on their own in order to form their personal ideas about relationships later in life.
Physical abuse is sometimes hard to walk away from. If you are being physically abused, or you suspect someone is being physically abused, you can contact the National Center for Domestic Violence to find help in your area and get information on ways to help. Sometimes all it takes is one person to care enough to take that step. You could change or even save a life.
We need to remember that we are the only ones that are around us our whole lives and we need to make our own choices. We need to be in relationships that are healthy to our well-being. If you feel you are in an unhealthy relationship and you need help to resolve it you can comment below or contact me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter or Facebook.