Healthy relationships are easy to recognize when things are going really good. You feel a sense of happiness and comfort from being in a relationship that feels good. Healthy relationships are all about working together to create a better life for each other in the relationship and as individuals. Things are easier, happiness is abundant, and the connection feels strong.
Sometimes it is hard to recognize just how unhealthy a relationship has gotten. While there still seems to be a connection of some sort, there also seems to be a void or a feeling of being unhappy, and the idea that something may need to be changed becomes constant.
If you are not sure whether your relationship is healthy or unhealthy, following are some comparisons between healthy and unhealthy relationships. When you see it written out like this, the truth becomes pretty apparent.
1. Independence Versus Dependence
In healthy relationships, both people are able to be independent. They are able to follow their own dreams, have their own hobbies, go out with friends, enjoy time by themselves, and basically get time to themselves so that they can become who they want to be. This doesn’t mean that they are not involved in the relationship and respect their partner enough to let them in on their life, but it does mean they feel respected enough to have some quality alone time.
In unhealthy relationships, one or both people get jealous when the other one tries to live their own life, because they are needy and they require a lot of validation from their partner in order to feel loved. Or, they want to conform their partner into who they are and try to shut down the independence of the other person through rules, guilt, and even force.
2. Talking Things Through Versus Fighting
Disagreements are going to happen in every relationship. However, people in healthy relationships know that talking things through is the way to find a compromise and come out alright. They know that they need to discuss their issues openly if they want to get anything resolved and move on from the problem, and while it can be tough to do, they listen to their partner and take what they have to say into consideration.
In unhealthy relationships, disagreements result in full out fighting. Yelling, blaming, and name calling happens. Tears flow and walls get punched. Both people feel like they are right and no one is willing to admit that the other person’s feelings are valid. No mature conversation happens, and things don’t get fully resolved, which means that the issue lingers on until the next fight and is used as a weapon at that time. For instance, one person will say, “This is what you did to me last time!” and use it as an extra incentive to prove how right they are. And, sometimes, stonewalling occurs where one person will tune the other person out and stop listening altogether. This results in avoiding of a fight, but it also results in avoiding the relationship and dealing with issues that need to be dealt with.
3. Equality Versus Superiority And Inferiority
In healthy relationships, equality is present. One person is not better than the other person. One person does not get more say, more benefits, more freedom, more money, or more anything. Both people in the relationship feel like they have equal input into the relationship and big issues, and both people feel like they are in charge of their own individual lives. Moreover, both people feel like they are sharing the big duties in the relationship or have evenly divided them up according to what is happening. For instance, if both people are working, then they share the household duties evenly, including cooking, instead of making one person do all the work while the other one gets a free pass to sit in front of the TV.
In unhealthy relationships, one person is superior and one is inferior. Or both people are fighting for the superior spot because the ego of both people is so huge that it makes them think that they are more important than their partner. They think they should have more of the freedom and less of the duties in the relationship. They feel like they should be listened to and understood, even though they don’t take the time to listen to and understand their partner. In short, one person (or both) feels like they are owed more than the other and they do and say things to make that happen.
4. Compassion Versus Cruelty
When two people are in a healthy relationship, they try not to hurt each other. They don’t say things to their partner that they know would hurt them. They don’t go out of their way to do things that they know would hurt their partner. They think about their actions and words before they say or do anything and take their partner’s feelings into consideration.
In unhealthy relationships, hurting each other is the name of the game. Emotional, mental, and physical abuse happen all the time, and feelings are not often accounted for – if at all.
5. Unconditional Love Versus Conditional Love
Healthy relationships have unconditional love. They love their partner for who they are, and don’t withdraw their love because of something that happens.
Unhealthy relationships have conditional love. One or both people love each other until something is said or done. Then the love is withdrawn, support is gone, and until things go back to the way they were, the relationship feels disconnected.
6. Forgiveness Versus Punishment
When two people are in a healthy relationship, forgiveness has to be present. Sometimes things happen that require forgiveness, but both people know that their partner is not out to intentionally hurt them and are able to put reasonable issues in the past and move on.
In unhealthy relationships, punishment happens when issues arise. If one person does something to hurt the other – even unintentionally, they are punished for their act repeatedly. They are made to feel bad. They feel like they have to make things up to the other person. And they live in a state of not being good enough or worthy enough for as long as the other person feels fit to keep them there.
7. Honesty Versus Lying
Some things are hard to say, but in a relationship that is healthy, honesty is more important than anything. Telling each other the truth about how they feel, where they’ve been and what they want is important to keep trust levels high and keep each other in the loop.
In unhealthy relationships, lying is rampant. One person doesn’t want the other one to get mad, so they lie. One person doesn’t want the other person to know their true thoughts, so they lie. One person doesn’t want the other to have insight into what they like or who they are, so they lie. Lying becomes a habit, so soon almost everything is a lie in the relationship, which makes the relationship a lie too.
8. Positivity Versus Negativity
Good relationships are not all sunshine and lollipops, but they do have a lot of positivity inside of them. Laughter, fun times, looking forward to seeing each other, and lifting each other up during hard times is all a part of having a healthy relationship. There is way more good than there is bad in a healthy relationship.
In unhealthy relationships, things can get pretty negative. Hurt feelings, anger, boredom, and a general dissatisfaction with the relationship ensures that negativity is present in the relationship.
9. Agreement Versus Disagreement
The more two people can agree on the fundamentals in life, the healthier their relationship is going to be. This doesn’t mean that they have to be totally on the same page. It just means that they have to have an open perspective that allows them to see their partner’s point of view and needs and allows their partner to talk openly about what they believe without being made fun of or put down in some way.
In unhealthy relationships, disagreement is common. Each person has different beliefs and ideas of what is right and what is wrong, and both people stick to their belief like glue. They are not willing to open up their perspective and see things from their partner’s point of view, and this causes arguments when beliefs are brought up as well as dishonesty to hide beliefs so that arguments can be avoided.
10. Quality Time Versus Habitual Time
In healthy relationships, quality time is a priority. Time spent eating dinner together, talking, going out and experiencing new things, and giving each other undivided attention is common. This is where new things are learned about each other and the bond is strengthened, and both people come away from the time feeling better off and more in love with their partner.
In unhealthy relationships, habitual time is spent together. Time in front of the TV. Time out with family or friends. Time to go to and from places. But, there is not a lot of talking, bonding, laughter, or new experiences happening during this time. It is part of life in a relationship.
11. Positive Affirmations Versus Negative Affirmations
Expressing love through words is important. Words have a lot of power to show how important someone is to you, so they are used to show each other how important and loved the other person is. Saying positive affirmations to each other is common in healthy relationships because they make the other person feel better about themselves – in good times and in bad. For instance, telling someone that you love them or that they are beautiful is common. Telling them that they deserve great things or that they look great in their outfit is also common.
Negative affirmations are reserved for unhealthy relationships. Telling someone they are annoying or they look fat or they need to improve their skills in something are all negative affirmations that make someone feel worse about themselves. It leaves one person feeling bad about themselves as well as their partner, and it is a very negative effect on the happiness and health of the relationship.
12. Commitment Versus Indifference
People in healthy relationships are committed to staying healthy. They do what needs to be done for their relationship, which includes consistent effort to maintain healthy behaviors and improve what isn’t working in the relationship. It’s not always easy, but both people have made their relationship a priority in their life and put in the effort needed to keep it running smoothly.
People in unhealthy relationships don’t commit to doing what they need to do for relationship happiness. They don’t have a lot of concern about the relationship or interest in doing what needs to be done for the good of their relationship. Even if it is apparent that their partner is unhappy, they are still more willing to focus on something else in their life, which indicates it is more of a priority than their relationship.
13. Fulfillment Versus Lack
In healthy relationships, both people feel fulfilled in their relationship. Their needs are being met, and if they are not, then they are in the process of working out a way for their needs to get met in the relationship. That is part of being in a relationship, you are attached to someone else and they are someone you need to care for, think about, comfort, and support.
In unhealthy relationships, lack is the star of the show. One person (or both) feels as if their partner is not willing or capable of giving them what they need. They may or may not have expressed their concern over this fact, but the bottom line is that they feel a need for something more from their partner that they are not getting.
14. Inspiration Versus Discouragement
Lastly, healthy relationships inspire. They inspire each person do to better for themselves and for their relationship. People in happy relationships feel more supported and confident in themselves, and they are able to go after the dreams and goals with more enthusiasm and ease.
People in unhealthy relationships do not feel inspired to go after what they want in life. They feel a sense of discouragement. They feel stuck. They feel a lack of confidence and disapproval towards their dreams. They feel held back and unable to go after what they want most. They feel as if they are not supported, and the weight of doing it without support is too much to take.