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7 Signs You’re in an Unhealthy Relationship

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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD - Blogs
By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhDPsychologistAugust 12, 2020
From the WebMD Archives

Even the best of relationships have their ups and downs. There are disagreements, tensions, and periods when you just need a bit more space from each other. But there may come a time when you wonder whether the difficulties are signs that this relationship is outright unhealthy, or it is just not the right relationship for you.

Here are 7 signs that it may be time for you to move on:

1. You are unhappy when together. People generally want to feel happy, loving, secure, supported, and emotionally safe in their relationships. If you can’t check off any of those emotions, or don’t have enough of what’s important to you, pay attention. To enjoy the relationship that you want to have, you will need to work on your current relationship or free yourself up to allow for that possibility.

2. Your partner acts in ways that are controlling or make you feel bad about yourself. In healthy relationships, partners accommodate each other’s needs, desires, and preferences at times. Of course, some people are less accommodating than others. However, when your partner devalues you and leaves you feeling disrespected, you will feel worse about yourself for being in the relationship. Though there may be things you really like or admire about your partner, your relationship cannot be happy in the long term.

Also, if your partner exerts power over you by controlling your finances, isolating you from family and friends, and being emotionally or physically threatening, you are likely in an abusive relationship. Seek the help of family, friends, or professionals. You can always reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. 

3. You don’t feel emotionally safe. Many people are in relationships that are by no means abusive, but they still feel emotionally unsafe. They feel hurt by their partner’s teasing. Or, their partner might not want to hear much about their thoughts, feelings, or experiences, and may be insensitive to personal struggles. Whatever the reason, if you feel like you need to protect yourself from your partner hurting you, there is a serious problem in your relationship.  

4. You don’t feel supported to grow and develop. Healthy relationships offer partners a sense of nurturing. Partners feel supported and encouraged to explore their interests and values. Their relationship helps them become a more fulfilled and happier version of themselves. Reflect seriously on your relationship. If it is impeding your personal growth, or it simply doesn’t support or encourage it, then consider what you want to do to address the deficit.

5. You and your partner have different commitment needs. For relationships to succeed, both partners need to be on the same page with regards to what they want from a relationship. If you want a monogamous, committed relationship and your partner is into a polymorphous lifestyle, then your needs may be so different that there is no way to bridge the difference. Honesty in this area can save you a lot of heartache.

6. Your communication is poor. This problem can show up as conflict, tension, and frequent misunderstandings. Or, you may communicate very little, experiencing a void between you. Given that communication is the primary way partners manage tasks together and connect emotionally, you need to address these problems for your relationship to be strong.

7. Dishonesty is a relationship killer. Infidelity and dishonesty in any other significant way can destroy trust in a relationship. If both partners want to resuscitate the relationship, the distrust it causes needs to be seriously addressed. This often requires couples therapy.

All partners can benefit from periodically assessing the health of their relationship. If you realize that your relationship is healthy, highlighting that in your mind – and sharing it with your partner – can be heartening. If you recognize problems, you put yourself in the position of being able to strengthen your relationship. Or, you may decide that you need to end it. The choice is up to you.


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About the Author
Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD

Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love.

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