Some people are blessed to find their soulmate first date, at first sight. Whereas, others may have to undertake the agonizing interview process a bit longer.
As stated in my last blog [Learning from Love], I have had my fair share of learning the “harder” way.
I think one of the worst feelings for me is the feeling that comes with being ‘used’, or taken for granted. Obviously being cheated on left wounds on my heart, but I can say, without a doubt, that that man did loved me, and never used me.
Ironically, I was first oblivious to the thought of being used. Perhaps I was blinded by lust and oxytocin. It wasn’t until after I started to develop on uncomfortable and uneasy feeling that I decided to explore deeper into why I was feeling that particular way.
Hands down, it takes two people in a relationship to put in mutual effort; that is the only way a relationship will prosper. If he (or she) only does things for the relationship when it is convenient for them, or if they only focus on their needs, then there is a singular aspect to that relationship. If they truly care, are interested, and want you in their life, regardless of distance and time, they will find a way – not an excuse. No one should have to be ‘partially’ in anyone’s life. The lack of effort shows just how interested the person is, and just how unimportant you are in their life. You are not a priority. This is especially true if the person is “unable to commit” or avoids the conversation, and continues to see other people.
I would hope a whole bunch of red flags would be going off for you. Listen to that gut feeling.
You deserve to be treated with respect, honesty, loyalty and dignity.
Oddly enough, when someone is being used, they’re typically sacrificing their own needs for someone else in order to fill a void. Let that sink in for a moment.
Please – please – please, respect yourself enough to walk away, especially if you find that your relationship identifies with any of the unhealthy signs below.
You are deserving of so much more. You are enough!
Signs of an unhealthy relationship:
One or both people constantly criticize and put the other person down. Or they ridicule their partner in front of other people, trying to shame or embarrass them.
There is a lack of open, honest, and loving communication between the couple. Conflict communication often devolves into anger and blaming. One partner or the other doesn’t feel secure in expressing feelings or self-doubts.
- Loss of emotional intimacy
Emotional intimacy is the connection a couple has when the trust and communication between them fosters open sharing, vulnerability, and self-disclosure. Each partner feels completely loved, accepted, and worthy. When this is lacking, the relationship deteriorates into an empty, lonely existence for one or both partners.
Disengagement happens when one or both partners lose the willingness to invest time, energy, and emotion into the relationship. In these situations, there are generally few arguments, or the arguments are one-sided and met with passiveness from the disengaged person. Disengagement is often a sign the one person is ready to end the relationship.
- Passive aggressive behavior
Passive aggressive behavior can manifest as non-verbal negativity, resistance, and confusion. It shows up as procrastination, helplessness, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or purposeful failure to handle requested tasks. This is childish behavior used in an attempt to manipulate and control.
Forgiveness is essential for the health and longevity of a love partnership. If one partner holds a grudge and can’t let go of past hurt or anger, neither partner will feel safe and intimate together. Of course forgiveness requires a sincere apology and consistent behavior change from the other person.
Codependency is a dysfunctional issue in which one partner enables and supports the negative behaviors or personality of the other. This could be a passive or active support of addiction, mental illness, immaturity, or irresponsibility. The focus is only on one person’s needs, ultimately leaving the other person resentful, angry, and wounded.
Abuse of alcohol or drugs by one or both partners makes it impossible to have an authentic, healthy intimacy. The substance alters one’s behavior and personality, impairing judgement and self-control. As the abuse continues, it pushes the couple farther and farther apart.
When one partner uses verbal abuse, he or she is trying to shame, control, and manipulate the other. This emotional abuse takes the form of yelling, swearing, using threats, blaming, demeaning, and using biting sarcasm. This abuse damages self-esteem and makes intimacy impossible in the relationship.
Physical abuse is the use of force and violent behavior in a way that injures or endangers someone. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship when one partner is the victim of abuse. This abuse can include hitting, biting, scratching, slapping, kicking, punching, shoving, use of a weapon, or forced sex. Physical abuse often builds gradually, beginning with emotional abuse. A one-time incident could be a warning sign of future abuse. The only solution in these situations is to let go and leave as soon as possible.
- Disagreement on major values
You want children, but she doesn’t. He wants to buy a new car, but you want to save the money for a house. One of you has deep religious convictions, but the other doesn’t. Disagreeing on important life values can put a wedge between couples and become the source of ongoing discord.
Respect shows that each partner understands the other, and they respect one another’s boundaries. When one partner stops respecting the other, it reveals he or she no longer supports the other’s values and needs. Love alone can’t hold you together without mutual respect.
- Little physical affection
Studies show physical affection is a sign of relationship satisfaction and a good predictor of love in the relationship. Relationships that suffer from a deficit of affection will grow lifeless over time. Non-sexual physical touch feeds emotional intimacy and is necessary for the health of your relationship.
Dishonesty and secrecy are key reasons couples and marriages end up failing. Being dishonest or secretive with your partner – even about trivial things – reveals you don’t feel safe sharing with your partner or you legitimately have something to hide. Either way, you undermine the trust and respect of your partner when you lie or withhold.
When there’s consistent jealousy or insecure behavior by one partner, it could reflect a lack of self-esteem and confidence in your value in the relationship. Expressing insecure feelings and jealousy when there’s no valid reason will only push your partner away and lessen their respect for you. If there is a real reason for these feelings, you need to face the problems head on with your partner.
If your relationship is primarily focused on sex, then you have no real foundation for a lasting connection. Without emotional intimacy, affection, strong communication, trust, and engagement, the relationship will ultimately collapse
- Narcissistic or controlling behavior
A person with a narcissistic personality is self-centered, seeks constant attention, considers themselves better than others, and believes they’re entitled to special treatment. Controlling people desire to be in charge, prove themselves, and get their own way by controlling their environment and the people around them. Neither personality is conducive to authentic connection and intimacy.
- Poor money skills or values
When one partner is financially irresponsible or has poor financial skills, it will eventually cause resentment, stress, and anger for the other partner. Money is a major source of conflict between couples even when both people are relatively responsible. When the financial relationship is unbalanced, it profoundly impacts respect and trust between the couple.
Competition in a relationship is a rivalry for supremacy, and it can develop over children, money, career success, or friends. Sometimes the need to upstage your spouse or partner comes from insecurity. These power struggles can destroy a relationship because one person has to be the winner and one the loser.
- Overly involved extended family
Parents, siblings, or other relatives who become too involved in a couple’s lives can drive a wedge between them. If one partner doesn’t set appropriate boundaries with his or her family, the other partner will grow resentful and feel like they are no longer the priority.
Does your partner constantly threaten to end the relationship or suggest divorce? This is a form of verbal abuse and emotional control, putting you on insecure footing as long as the behavior continues. You will never feel safe or valued as a partner.
Some people view their partners as a project to fix. They want to change their spouse’s appearance, behavior, or personality in order to make themselves feel more secure and in control. This reflects a lack of respect and unconditional love.
Do you see some of these signs in your love relationship? If so, it’s time to assess whether or not the relationship is causing more distress than happiness.
Credit: Live Bold and Bloom
Signs of a Healthy Relationship:
Trust means more than keeping secrets and being faithful. When you trust your partner, you feel a sense of safety and security in the relationship. Trust allows both partners to reach high levels of intimacy and closeness. It also allows you to set boundaries and know they’ll be respected, according to Young Women’s Health.
Healthy relationships have two partners who respect each other for who they are. Respectful behaviors include considering your partner when you make decisions that affect the relationship, treating your partner with love and kindness and refraining from saying hurtful things during disagreements.
Healthy communication helps partners solve disagreements in a respectful manner, but it can also help prevent disagreements altogether, says the University of Texas at Austin’s Counseling and Mental Health Center. That’s because healthy communication helps convey your needs, wants, opinions and feelings to your partner in a calm, assertive and loving way.
- Absence of Physical Violence
In healthy relationships, one partner never puts his or her hands on the other partner in a violent or menacing way. If your partner uses physical violence, no matter how sorry he or she is afterward, that’s not the partner for you. Abusive partners act from a need to control and dominate, not from a respectful place of equal power.
- Absence of Mental or Emotional Violence
Physical violence isn’t the only type of relationship violence, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you’re in a healthy relationship, your partner should never call you names, intimidate you, control you or force you to perform sexual acts. These are types of mental, emotional and sexual abuse.
Your relationship with your partner shouldn’t be the only significant relationship in your life, according to the CDC. Healthy individuals have their own friends, family members, interests and opinions outside the relationship.
No two people have everything in common, but people in healthy relationships have an overall respect for each other’s interests and hobbies. Even when they participate in activities they’re not interested in, they enjoy spending time together.
Healthy relationships are an equal 50/50 split. No one partner is the boss. Both partners discuss family decisions and have equal say. This means both partners have input in everything from picking the Friday night movie to making the family budget.
Even though new relationships don’t need to focus on long-term goals, more serious relationships can suffer when both partners aren’t on the same page. When one partner wants children, marriage or to live in a particular location and the other doesn’t, it can lead to resentments and unhappiness.
Your partner may not like everything you do, but she should always support your choices. For example, she may miss spending time with you, but she will never discourage you from going to school or work. In a healthy relationship, your partner always has your back.
Both partners in a healthy relationship share similar sexual values. They feel safe enough to express their sexual desires and never worry that their partners will force them to do things they’re uncomfortable with. Healthy sexuality also includes agreeing on methods of contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
Even if your relationship is absent of unhealthy relationship characteristics, it doesn’t mean it’s right for you. At the end of the day, you have to feel happy about your decision to be with your partner. All couples have their rough patches, but overall, your relationship should make you happy more than often than not.
Credit: Living Strong