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Answers (7)

EXPERT
Daniela Tempesta, LCSW (Psychotherapist) answered
I spend a lot of time talking with my clients about what makes up a healthy relationship. Based on research, my work with clients, and personal experience here are some of my top signs that your relationship may be in trouble: 

1) Failure to take responsibility - It is important in a relationship that both partners are able to own up to their stuff and say sorry when necessary. Let's face it, we all make mistakes. If you feel like you spend a disproportion amount of time with your partner apologizing fort things you have done you may want to look a little deeper. Is your partner constantly making you feel guilty for any slight misstep? When you try to confront your partner about something they did, do they find a way to turn it around and make you feel badly? It is important that both parties can take responsibilities for their actions and that there is an even distribution of power.

2) You live in past memories more than the present - It’s hard not to get stuck in thinking about “the way things were.”  These are beautiful, joyous memories about a person you care for deeply.  You remember the spark that used to be present, the way your partner used to be so devoted to you, or how you never used to argue. While these memories are great, your relationship with the person exists in the current moment – not in the past. Let your past experiences remain memories and not a reason to stay together. Your commitment to your relationship should be based on your current feelings for your partner, the actual state of the relationship, and the future you see with your partner.  If you are waiting around for things to go back to “the way they used to be” you may be waiting around forever.

3) You are compromising your own values or sense of self to stay in the relationship - Are you willing to sell-out on things you believe in or that are integral to who you are in order to maintain peace with your partner and keep the relationship afloat? Certainly all relationships require compromise -- we all need to be willing to be a bit flexible and choose our battles wisely to make a relationship work.  However, when we begin to compromise the things that define who we are or what we believe we hurt ourselves deeply. Constantly having to sacrifice your own sense of self to be in a relationship can make us start to doubt our values, beliefs, and self- worth. Your relationship should deepen and solidify your own sense of self, rather than make you question whether or not you are okay the way you are.

4) Your partner puts little to no effort in the relationship -  All relationships require effort by both parties.  Unequal effort  = Unhealthy Relationship. If your partner isn’t putting equal effort into making the relationship work, the potential lifespan of your relationship is limited – it can only stand on one leg for so long. Furthermore, if you are the one doing most of the work you are going to end up feeling resentful and exhausted. You deserve someone who will place just as much value and dedication to the relationship as you will.

5) You are in a relationship with who your partner could be, rather than who they are now - One of the things I hear most often from people who stayed in unhealthy relationships too long is “I just kept waiting for my partner to change but they never did and eventually I just couldn’t take it anymore.”  Just because we love and care about someone doesn’t mean they are right for us. If you are staying in your relationship with the expectation your partner will change for you it’s time to start re-evaluating. We should be comfortable with who are partner already is, not who you hope they can become. There may be some minor things that annoy us that can be worked on to alter the relationship in a positive direction, but for the most part your partner should not violate any of your deal-breakers. Instead of wasting time waiting around for your partner to change, get out there and meet other people who better fit what you are looking for.

6) You find yourself constantly feeling anxious or insecure - Feeling safe and secure is one of the most important factors in a healthy relationship. If we are always anxious about what our partner is doing or how they feel for us this will eat away at the relationship and your own sense of self. It's important to determine what the root of the anxiety is -- is it your own insecurities and unresolved issues or is your partner behaving poorly and giving you good reason to feel anxious all the time? If it's the latter, this needs to be addressed. What in the relationship needs to shift so that you can regain your sense of safety and self? 

7) Your partner is emotionally or physically abusive - Physical and verbal/emotional abuse are absolutely not acceptable. No one has the right to hurt, demean, humiliate, or threaten you. No matter what your partner may promise you this behavior is likely to continue. For your own safety and well-being you need to leave the relationship as soon as possible. Leaving a harmful relationship can be very difficult because the abuse comprises our own sense of worth. Reach out for help -- you don’t have to do this alone.  If you think you may be in an abusive relationship check out the resources on National Domestic Violence Hotline page or the National Dating Abuse Helpline.
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Anonymous commented
Wonderful advice. Thank you os much, Daniela!
EXPERT
Michelle Brock (Certified Life Coach & Hypnotist) answered
Too often we don't use our intuition when it comes to relationships. I have been guilty of this myself, ignoring that my own "inner voice" was trying to tell me that the person was not right for me. Often we can justify the relationship intellectually (he has a great job, she is really hot, my parents like him, the sex is amazing, my biological clock is ticking, etc.) which can further cloud our intuition. In my opinion, what makes a relationship healthy or not involves one word: freedom. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to speak your mind. Freedom to follow your dreams. Freedom to spend time with your friends and other people you love. Freedom to spend time by yourself. And, most importantly, freedom to grow. But yet, it is quite a bit more complicated than that, as a relationship does involve two people. A great relationship cannot exist without compromise and learning to make the needs of another your priority as well. This is why relationships, particularly romantic ones, are so challenging. It is also why the best guide you can use to navigate the complex world of relationships is your intuition. My advice is to first spend some time learning who you are as an individual for long enough to envision who it is that you want to become in the future. A great relationship involves a mutual vision and goals you want to achieve together, but you first need to have your half of that. Ideally, you will be with someone who inspires you to become the best version of yourself that you can be, and you also help them to grow. One of my favorite analogies of what a great relationship looks like is to imagine two vines that grew up separately but at a certain point joined together to interweave, each twist and change in direction that one makes stimulates a new direction in the other, but they keep returning together to reconnect and their direction is the same. These vines move continuously upward, supporting each other and joined together they make one incredibly strong vine that grows higher to accomplish more than either could have done on their own. An unhealthy relationship is stagnant, or even worse, stifling. When a relationship starts to feel like it is not in alignment with your goals and isn't providing fertile ground for you (and your partner) to grow into who you both want to be, find your inner voice and listen to it. It will never lie to you.  
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EXPERT
Dr. Dana Season (Clinical Psychologist) answered
There are many red flags to be aware of in friendships and relationships. Some of the more subtle ones can be tricky but very important. Knowing who you are and your tendencies is vital. Let's discuss how to recognize three harmful patterns in dysfunctional relationships: passiveness, aggressiveness and lack of availability.

1)Passiveness: If you are the type of person who tends to be more on the passive side, easy going, go with the flow, then AGGRESSIVE PERSONALITY TYPES ARE YOUR RED FLAG! You want to seek out a partner who will appreciate your mellow nature and not take advantage of you. Some clues that a person is too aggressive for you: they almost always make to the decisions, they are condescending towards you when you try to assert yourself, you feel that they rarely understand you or your reasoning. If you feel these things, it is important to bring these issues to light and notice how your friend/partner responds. If they seem to be open to looking at themselves and making some changes you can give the relationship a little time to see if these changes actually occur. If you do not see change in the way you feel and are treated then this person is probably not right for you. If you do notice some change initially, continue to keep track, as it is easy to make a temporary change. Maintaining change long term can be more difficult and will take work. Additionally, working on being more assertive will be beneficial to you in life. 

2) Aggressiveness: If you are the aggressive type then PASSIVE PERSONALITY TYPES ARE YOUR RED FLAG. Being dominant and in charge all the time does not really feel good or lead to happiness. There is no point in being in a relationship if you are not going to consider your partner needs and desires. If you tend to be more on the controlling side it is important to assess how you have come to be this way and how this serves you. If you can begin to become more flexible by allowing others to do things their way even if you feel their way is less efficient, you will create space for true connection. The more you let go and give in to others the more they will open up to you. Choosing someone too passive will likely perpetuate your patterns of being dominant and push people away from you. 

3) Lack of Availability: This is a very common issue I see come up for many women. They are looking for a relationship but continue to choose partners who are emotionally unavailable. I think that people often hear what they want to hear rather than actually listening to the words being spoken to them. For example, you starting dating a guy and he says, "I really like you but I am not looking for a relationship." THIS IS A RED FLAG! Even though he does like you and you can feel the chemistry and connection...if he says he does not want a relationship then you have no choice but to believe him.  The best response is for you to say, "I like you too but I am looking for a relationship so when you feel that you are ready to explore that option please contact me." If you continue to pursue this, heartbreak is likely. Additionally, if someone tells you that they are interested in a relationship but their actions do not match their words, that is important information. This person may have commitment or intimacy issues, you can address them and see if change occurs. Be mindful if you find yourself continuously attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable. Perhaps you do not feel you are worthy of receiving love, or maybe you are afraid to let someone truly see you. These are issues worth exploring if you want to be in a connected loving relationship.

There are many red flags that come up in relationships. When you get that gut feeling listen to it and address your concerns with your partner. There are a lot of people in this world so please do not feel that you do not have options because YOU DO!

Best of luck :) 
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EXPERT
Amy Levine, MA, CSE (Sex Coach & Sexuality Educator) answered
There are many great points of view and thoughts mentioned thus far.  When I work with my clients - particularly about dating issues - we talk about trusting our gut or intuition as Michelle mentioned.  Our bodies often have a visceral reaction to things that are red flags, while our heads may talk us out of the feeling.  It could related to why the person didn't call back in a respectful amount of time, something said that was disrespectful or sarcastic, or maybe something that's not typically negative, but at the same time not aligned with how we want to be treated.

It's really about learning to trust ourselves and not making excuses to hold on to someone that's not a good match for us.  I think it's important to be with a partner who brings out the best in us, and to feel comfortable being the best version of ourselves with that person.  And, many people don't know what this "looks like," as they have had a string of "unhealthy" experiences (at varying degrees).

Think of what's important to you in a relationship and in a partner.  The worksheets at the bottom of this blog can help you elevate your life whether you are single or coupled: http://www.igniteyourpleasure.com/are-you-generous/
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EXPERT
Lisa Bograd, MA, MFT (Marriage & Family Therapist) answered

What is it that LeoTolstoy once said? “All happy families resemble each other. Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” And so it is with couples. There are myriad manifestations of unhappiness, and unhealthiness in couples, but there are some pretty consistent characteristics of a happy, and healthy couple. Let’s take a look at some of those qualities and we can infer that those couples who lack these qualities, or who behave toward each other in contrary ways, are unhealthy, and, as such, are bound to be unhappy either sooner or later.


1) Healthy relationships are built on mutual trust and respect. Unhealthy relationships are characterized by mutual suspicion, and a general lack of regard for the needs and feelings of the other partner. The red flag here could be a partner who is overly possessive, who needs to dominate and control the actions and behaviors of the other partner, or, one who is neglectful, and does not seem to care one way or the other what you are feeling or what is going on with your life. It could be a partner who needs to know your whereabouts at all times, or one who is MIA for days at a time and does not respond to your phone calls. A more extreme form of disrespect and disregard could be a partner who withholds sex or emotional closeness as a punishment, or forces you to perform sexual acts.

2) Healthy relationships are characterized by an appreciation of the strengths that each partner brings to the table and a desire to support one another's growth and aspirations. Unhealthy relationships stifle one another's growth and see the growth of each individual as a threat to the relationship. If you have a partner who is threatened by your desire to pursue higher learning or to go after a promotion to a more challenging position at work, a partner who puts you down when you express your opinions, ideas, or preferences, or generally derides them as “stupid” or “foolish,” this is a sure sign of an unhealthy relationship.



3) Healthy relationships encourage honest and open communication. The partners in this kind of relationship are able to be open with one another about their thoughts, feelings, and needs, even if this may create some conflict at times because there is a sense of trust and safety in the relationship that differences can be worked through and resolved in ways that are acceptable to both partners, even if it means some compromise and a postponement of immediate gratification. Such relationships are characterized by flexibility and warmth. Unhealthy relationships are often rigid and unyielding and are characterized by antipathy and contempt (one of the Four Horsemen of relationship expert John Gottman’s apocalypse). The predominant feeling expressed in unhealthy relationships is anger, if feelings are expressed at all, and sometimes this anger can lead to all out rage that culminates in physical abuse, the ultimate red flag of an unhealthy relationship. 


Other manifestations of unhealthiness may be harder to see. Unlike the more blatantly abusive relationship, these types of unhealthy relationships are characterized by silent desperation borne of a fear of expressing ones true self, a kind of conflict avoidance in extreme. These couples do not suffer from contemptuousness as much as they suffer from a genuine warmth and intimacy; there is a sense of coldness and distance that characterizes this type of unhealthy relationship that stems from a distrust that the other person can really accept them for who they are, or that the relationship can tolerate conflict of any kind.


4) Healthy relationships at heart stem from the ability of both people in the relationship to have good boundarieds and a solid sense of self from which stems the ability to tolerate separateness and togetherness without merger as well as an ability to tolerate a certain amount of tension and conflict, and to be able to support the growth of each member of the couple as well as the relationship as a whole. People in unhappy relationships tend to have poor boundaries, poor self esteem, and a very tenuous sense of self. They get into relationships that are codependent, conflict avoidant, abusive, rigid, lonely, and ultimately, unfulfilling. If you want to have a healthy relationship, practice being a healthy person. Learn how to say no to what doesn’t feel good to you. Pursue a meaningful life. Learn how to be alone and to be with yourself without distraction. Learn what makes you happy and go about becoming a happy, fulfilled person. Once this happens, you are on your way to manifesting a happy, healthy relationship!

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EXPERT
Stephen Snyder, MD (Sex and Relationship Expert) answered
Your self esteem isn't as good as it used to be.  
Your world has constricted, rather than expanded.
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