According to youth.gov, unhealthy relationships are characterized by disrespect, dishonesty, control, hostility/violence, and dependence. Conversely, healthy relationships are characterized by respect, trust, freedom, kindness, and understanding. These characteristics don’t exclusively apply to romantic relationships; they can pertain to platonic ones too.
Relationships can start healthy and later become unhealthy. Many maintain unhealthy relationships because they avoid change, love the other person, or think it’s better for the other person. Recognizing the signs of an unhealthy relationship is challenging, especially if you love the other person. If you are questioning whether a relationship is healthy or not, go through the list of characteristics (from youth.gov, Very Well Mind, or Psychology Today). Some people like a quiz (with physical results) rather than just a list to go over yourself. So, here is a romantic relationship health rest from Mind Diagnostics: https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/relationship-health-test.
So, what should you do if you recognize a relationship as unhealthy?
- Don’t ignore the problems: Remember, ignoring them will not resolve them. Sometimes having a physical list helps. Write down the issues and signs of unhealthy relationships that apply in the situation. Use that list to analyze the situation. Also, getting an outside perspective and/or explaining the situation to someone who isn’t connected can help you recognize the severity.
- Is the relationship fixable or worth fixing?: To repair the relationship, both parties must be aware of the problems and willing to work to improve them. If one (or both) of you are willing to put in the effort, the relationship will succeed. You have to care enough about the relationship to put in the effort.
- Discuss your boundaries with the other person: If you want to fix the relationship, especially in less severe situations, coming to the other person could help. Each relationship is different and requires different efforts. Sometimes, some much-needed communication can help people better understand each other and the necessary boundaries to maintain the relationship.
- Get professional help: If you can’t go to the other person, seek help. Depending on the situation, there are various resources. Couples therapy can help couples repair their relationship with a professional. Individual therapy for both parties can also help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is always available for cases involving violence: 800-799-7233.