Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships

Being close to others and maintaining a good relationship with our partner, friends, and family members are important factors for us to live a high quality of life.

This is because ultimately, we humans are social beings. As having healthy relationships with others – particularly our loved ones – is vital to our emotional and mental well-being, knowing the difference between healthy vs. unhealthy relationships is essential for living a fulfilling life.

Although many people think that having a healthy relationship means that you never argue with the other person, it is far more complicated than that. Every relationship has some kind of issues. Even healthy ones! So having a dispute from time to time doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an unhealthy relationship with someone. (In fact, too much “peace” may be a red flag too!)

In the following, I will help you distinguish healthy partnerships from unhealthy ones.

What’s the difference between healthy vs. unhealthy relationships?

Let’s make a few things clear right at the beginning. Since every person has different needs, a healthy relationship doesn’t look the same for me as for you or anyone else.

Also, a relationship you find well-working in your 20s can be completely different from the one you look for in your 30s or 40s. Simply, because people are constantly changing and have other needs as they are aging. In the case of a romantic relationship these needs may be related to space, communication, shared hobbies, affection, values, sex, and many more.

Due to these differences between personal preferences, it’s impossible to give a clear definition of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Yet, there are some hallmarks you can look out for. These can help you decide whether a relationship is considered healthy.

Taking a closer look at the following factors can help determine the healthiness of any of your relationships (with your partner, friends, family members, colleagues):

  • the way at how you communicate with each other,
  • how you solve your problems,
  • the level of respect you give to each other,
  • how you support each other,
  • whether there any boundaries and if they are kept,
  • how much space you give to the other one,
  • the level of privacy in the relationship.

Related read: 8 Reasons Why Health Consciousness is Important

What a healthy relationship looks like

Now that you know the most important elements that play a role in the healthiness of a relationship, you may be wondering what a healthy relationship looks like. As mentioned above, a healthy relationship doesn’t look the same for everyone and it may depend on the type of the relationship as well. However, most reputable relationship experts agree that the following characteristics are signs of a healthy relationship.

You trust each other

healthy relationship

Trust is truly one of the most essential components of a flourishing relationship. When you have mutual trust between you and your partner (or depending on the type of the relationship your friend or family member), you are honest with each other and you don’t keep any secrets from the other one- these are considered good signs. Also, when you are not afraid that the other one will cheat on you (in the case of a romantic relationship), lie to you, or sabotage your best wishes.

If you trust the other person, you also feel safe around them and don’t worry that they will hurt you (both emotionally and physically).

You can communicate openly and effectively

Open and effective communication is a vital element of all relationships. In a healthy relationship, you can talk with each other about everything such as emotions, needs, dreams, successes, failures, concerns, and many more. Thus, if an issue comes up, you can discuss it openly with each other.

It also includes that if you have different opinions, first, you are able to listen to the other one without any judgment and share your perspective only after that. Of course, it’s okay to have different opinions as long as you both remain open minded and respectful!

I will admit this one was a hard concept for me in my 20s. I found myself clamming up and keeping my feelings to myself rather than having an open conversation- which always seemed to more problems down the road. (Can anyone else relate?)

Related read: 7 Ways to Raise Your Health Consciousness

You provide personal space for each other

healthy vs. unhealthy relationships

While it is important to spend time together, it is also necessary to provide enough personal space to each other to spend some time on your own. So you can have a little me-time, have a hobby, meet your friends or family, or do anything else you like.

Related read: Self Love is Not Selfish – And Here’s Why

You resolve your conflicts together

Although having disagreements occasionally is completely normal in every relationship, the way you address conflicts is what matters the most. If you can talk with respect about your differences and resolve your conflicts together, most likely, you have a healthy relationship.

You support each other

Another characteristic of a healthy relationship is mutual support. If you always have each other’s back – especially during hard times -, chances are that you are on the right track towards a well-working relationship.

You have a good time together

healthy relationship

People in a healthy relationship make time for fun and have a good time together, they often laugh, make jokes. Of course, having some life challenges can have an impact on your mood but it should be only a temporary change.

I know many people that make a point to schedule regular date nights to make sure that fun and connection is kept high on the priority list!

Related read: Positive Mindset Quotes for Health and Life

You are interested in each other’s life

Having an interest in your partner’s, friend’s, or family’s life is a key element in a healthy relationship. This includes that you are interested in what they are thinking, what their dreams and goals are, how their everyday life is going, etc. (Plus, it makes for more interesting heart felt conversations 😉 )

You have physical intimacy (in a romantic relationship)

Being able to physically connect and bond is crucial for couples. However, everyone has different needs regarding intimacy. This is why you need to focus on developing healthy intimacy between you and your partner. Healthy intimacy means that you fulfill your physical needs while keeping in mind and respecting each other’s sexual boundaries.

What an unhealthy relationship looks like

unhealthy relationship

Since the last time we talked in-depth about the main characteristics of unhealthy relationships, here we will only go through briefly what an unhealthy relationship looks like.

If you have an unhealthy relationship with someone, you most likely experience one or more of the following:

  • you feel like not being yourself,
  • you have lost your self-worth and you have no self-confidence,
  • you may often feel sad, anxious, humiliated, or even threatened by your partner, friend, colleague, or someone else (depending on the type of the relationship),
  • you are being manipulated and controlled by the other one,
  • you often feel guilty and sometimes it’s without any reason,
  • there is no trust,
  • you only give and don’t get anything in return (for example, love, attention)
  • you are isolated from those who are important to you,
  • you don’t feel supported,
  • discussions don’t lead anywhere,
  • you are emotionally or physically abused.

When it comes to unhealthy relationships, keep in mind that not all relationships are toxic from the beginning. Very often, unhealthy behaviors appear gradually. If you recognize the warning signs early on, you can both do something about them and improve your relationship. However, sometimes it may be too late, then it’s better to end the relationship and walk away. Only you can determine what’s best for your life.

Related read: How to Choose Happiness for a Better Life

The bottom line

It’s almost impossible to set the same standards for all relationships. However, knowing what are the main differences between healthy vs. unhealthy relationships according to relationship specialists may help you realize when something is wrong with your relationship.

Regardless of what kind of relationship (romantic relationship, family relationship, friendship) we are talking about, you can make a quick self-check by asking yourself the following and similar questions:

  • Do they encourage me to be myself and grow?
  • Do I feel good being around them?
  • Do we share some goals regarding the future?
  • Do we have the same expectations from this relationship?
  • Do they respect me, my decisions, and my boundaries?
  • Do they accept me for who I am?
  • Do they give something to my life or are they only taking my energy?
  • Are they happy with my successes?

If most of your answers are “yes”, you probably have a strong, healthy relationship. However, if you have many “no” answers, you may need to do some steps in order to turn your relationship into a healthier one. If you don’t know how, don’t worry. Keep tuned because this is our topic for next week.

How many “no” answers did you get? Let me know in the comments.

Similar Posts