How to Tell if Your Relationship Is Causing More Harm than Good
A desire for alone time and the occasional bout of annoyance with your partner aren't indicators of a bad relationship. But what if those instances become the rule instead of the exception? What if the emotional connection feels severed? Each person will have a view as to what constitutes a good relationship, but there are several ways to sort out the differences between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.
Signs of good vs. bad relationships
A "bad" relationship has unhealthy underpinnings, such as possessiveness, guilt, coercion, isolation, sabotage and disrespect. Your partner should bring out the best in you, not try to dim your light or hold you back from reaching your full potential. They should appreciate your unique personality and give you the benefit of the doubt when trouble arises.
If any of these signs sound familiar, it may be time to rethink your relationship:
Spending time with friends or doing activities without your partner isn't allowed.
Your partner makes you feel like you're never good enough.
When things go wrong, you're always to blame.
You begin doubting yourself and feel less confident about your abilities.
You can't depend on your partner to follow through on their promises.
You don't feel comfortable sharing your opinion.
Your partner belittles or undermines you.
Building a connection with someone requires an investment of time, energy and emotions. A good relationship is a mutually beneficial lifetime asset. If your relationship feels more like a constant battle than a place of solace and support, it may be doing more harm than good.
Set yourself up for success
Do your part to minimize relationship stress with proactive communication about subjects that matter. Don't shy away from discussing fundamental issues such as family plans, career goals and personal finances. Establish an understanding of how your partner shows love and the ways you like to be loved. And don't discount counseling, even if it doesn't "feel" like the situation is that far gone. There's a common misunderstanding that couples therapy is a last resort for partners on the brink of collapse, but in reality, seeking guidance from a professional can preemptively strengthen your relationship before problems arise.
These core components are essential to building a solid foundation and a successful life together. If your values and plans are vastly different, discuss acceptable ways to meet in the middle to avoid future resentment.
Know your nonnegotiables
All relationships have ups and downs, but only you can decide whether you're willing to accept certain dynamics. What works for some couples may be unacceptable to others. Perhaps you're OK with your partner having friends of the opposite sex, engaging in high-risk hobbies such as skydiving or going on vacation without you. For other couples, those scenarios might be out of the question. Once you've agreed on ground rules for your relationship, you should expect the other person to observe them and respect your boundaries.
You should never tolerate abusive behavior, especially when there's a threat of physical violence. If substance abuse issues are contributing to an unsafe environment, remove yourself from the situation until your partner has gotten help and is committed to recovery.
How to transform your relationship
Healthy relationships aren't only good when life is easy; they should serve as a positive influence no matter what the circumstances. Commitment means being present through ups and downs. If your partner is around only to celebrate successes but not to help pick you up when you're down, your relationship may need some work. Any relationship can take a negative turn and succumb to the pressures of life, but there may be ways to salvage it if it's worth saving.
The test of a relationship isn't whether problems arise; it's how they're handled. Life's challenges should be met with a respectful, supportive and collaborative approach. Everyone makes mistakes, and it's not fair to expect your partner to be perfect. Finding productive ways to navigate through mistakes is the key to a sustainable relationship. Even if these strategies don't come naturally, a couples counselor can help you develop the right tools for practical problem-solving as a team.