Growing up, many of us see our parents as the "perfect couple." The couple that we all aspire to be, regardless of sexual orientation. Even when I was young I knew that I, one day, wanted to be married and share my life with someone else; however not every relationship is the "perfect" one—relationships are difficult and different depending on who you're with; not every relationship is going to be congenial.
We all want to be loved—it is an instinct we develop upon inception—and this quest for love follows us throughout our lives. Many people chase the love they think they deserve—a love tarnished by the supercilious actions of the significant other—and tolerate it. I've witnessed this first hand and I know a lot of you might have, too. Just know, THERE IS AN ANSWER. In this piece, I'm going to tell you about eight signs of an unhealthy relationship that may help you, or someone else you know, realize it's time for a change.
Does it feel like you can't ever seem to do anything right? Does it feel like you can't ever seem to please your partner? Criticism is one of the biggest signs of an unhealthy relationship; often times, criticism can be used as a means for one partner to control the other. Criticism allows one partner to establish a sense of dominance over the other partner, even in the simplest ways. It is important to be honest with yourself…is your partner treating you fairly? Does your partner appreciate the skills and qualities you bring to the table? Is your partner trying to gain emotional control over you? Being able to assess this can give YOU the knowledge to get out of your unhealthy relationship.
2. Physical abuse
I know what you're thinking: Justin, this is an obvious one—of course physical abuse is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. The sad reality is that many people are subject to domestic violence daily. We endure this violence for one reason: hope. We HOPE that this will be the only time. We HOPE that things will get better. Allow me to emphasize this idea with you: hope is, sometimes, paralyzing. People get so caught up hoping things change, that they do not take proactive steps in bettering their own situation. Being physically abused is not okay, for both men and women, and is certainly not a sign of a healthy relationship.
3. Verbal abuse
Not all abuse occurs through physical means. Verbal abuse is a means of one partner trying to control the other through shaming and degradation. Verbal abuse is one of the biggest warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and that you need change. You don't deserve it.
4. Lack of communication
Communication is dubbed as one of the most important aspects of a relationship. It is extremely important to be able to effectively communicate your feelings with your partner, as this can lead to powerful solutions in your relationship. An absence of communication is NOT a good thing! This may mean that only one partner is putting in effort or that your partner disregards the way you feel. Your. Feelings. Matter. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It's important to be honest with yourself (a common theme among this article.) Do you feel comfortable expressing the way you feel to your partner? If your answer is no, you may want to assess your situation.
I know we already talked about the importance of communication in a relationship, but I feel as though I need to build upon that idea. Being honest and open with your partner is one of the most important aspects in a relationship. If your partner is keeping secrets behind your back (infidelity, for example) this is a large sign that they do not respect you and the way you feel. To them, it is okay to keep these things from you and is a very subtle, yet effective, way of establishing dominance and superiority. Eventually, people become accepting of this dishonesty and learn to live with it—it becomes the normal. This is not okay, even in the slightest. If your partner is keeping things from you, the relationship is not going to work. This point affects me on a personal level, as my mother battled with my outrageously dishonest father.
One of the beautiful things about life is the ability to be independent—the ability to do what you want, when you want (within reasonable means, of course.) Some partners have a very high dependency on one other, both physically and emotionally. Although this may seems normal, dependency on someone else is not a good thing and occurs without many people even realizing it. It is important to be your own individual and/or find a support system that is separate from your relationship (friends, family, hobbies, etc.)
7. High sexual focus
Intimacy is a pivotal aspect of every relationship. Intimacy draws two partners closer to one another and allows them to get a better understanding of one another. Having intimacy in a relationship also builds trust between two partners, as well; however, there is more to a relationship than sex. A relationship requires emotional effort, not just physical intimacy. If you find that you're in a serious relationship that you're putting a great deal of emotional effort into and your partner is not putting in as much emotional effort, this may lead to an imbalance. Successful relationships require both emotional AND physical intimacy! Think about your relationship and see how much effort your partner is putting in, both emotionally and physically.
8. Threatening to leave you
My father used to tell my mother all the time: "I'm going to leave you!" Quite frankly, that's bullshit. No one should have the level of control over you that they can make you fear being alone. It's not healthy to tiptoe around your partner worrying that something you do will be countered with a threat to leave. The only person that is losing here is your partner. They are losing a truly amazing individual! DO NOT let somebody have this influence over you. There are "other fish in the sea," as they say. Allow me to put this into perspective for you. As I write this, the population of the world is 7,635,310,645. Even if 99 percent of the world did not like you (which is heavily exaggerated), that means 76,353,107 people still do. Your perfect partner is out there, trust me!