If you were randomly asked how your relationship is, what would your honest answer be? Is it a good relationship or not so much? Is it a healthy relationship where both you and your partner feel loved, supported and nourished, equally needed and respected or is it more of a lop-sided relationship where one person is giving more, doing more and working much harder than the other person? A good relationship can make even the most difficult situations much easier to handle while a toxic relationship is like venom. Instead of lifting you up, a toxic relationship weighs you down and drains your joy, energy and zest for life! It’s true that every relationship experiences their good times and rough spots as well, so how do you know if you are in a good relationship or if your relationship needs some help? Ask yourself if the following statements describe your relationship and pay close attention to your answers. Your answers may be very revealing, providing insight on areas that need immediate improvement!
1. You Can Both Acknowledge Your mistakes Without Fear of Judgement
We all make mistakes, this is inevitable. A healthy relationship is marked by the freedom to make mistakes, acknowledge them, make amends, forgive or be forgiven then move on. Simple mistakes are not held over one person’s head or used as a tool to tear down the other partner’s self esteem. The situation is addressed, resolved and you move forward together.
No matter which partner makes the mistake, the main thing is to take responsibility and take the necessary steps to make it right. A healthy relationship allows you to open up and admit your mistakes while holding to the trust that your partner will still love you.
2. Your Partner Wholly Accepts You
Does your partner readily point out the things they find delightful in your relationship? Or do they spend most of their time pointing out your shortcomings or areas of sensitivity? We all have areas of vulnerability and issues where we might need a little more understanding and grace. Does your partner try to protect these areas or do they “needle” you by poking fun or attacking these areas even though they know those areas are tender spots?
A good relationship is characterized by both of you doing your best to focus on the positive things that you like about the other person. In a toxic relationship, someone always seems to find a way to turn even good things into negative comments, jokes or jabs. It can be very damaging when either partner continually criticizes or points out areas they don’t agree with or areas of disappointment and blame.
3. You Can Disagree Without Being Excommunicated
In a healthy relationship, both partners respect the feelings and needs of the other and would not wish to cause them more pain by ignoring their presence even when having a justifiable reason to be upset. This is the exact opposite if you are in a toxic relationship, as your partner will completely ice you out after a disagreement.
A sign of an emotionally balanced and mature relationship is the ability to verbalize our problems and work through them without fear of the other person leaving or shutting us out if we say the wrong thing. While we all experience times where we need a little emotional space, verbal or physical disappearance results in feelings of insecurity among partners.
4. You are Free to be Yourself
Are there noticeable differences between a meeting with friends or family and when with your partner? Do you feel you have to put up a certain front or persona when you’re with your partner? In a healthy relationship, you should encourage each other to be yourselves. Relationships are not meant for eventual molding of partners into what their lovers need them to be, but rather about partners being themselves and finding that common ground where you both can grow. Whether you are with your partner or family and friends, you should both feel the freedom to be yourselves without any pretense or masks.
5. You Can Depend on Your Partner
In a healthy relationship, you can count on each other to keep your promises. However, if you are not certain whether your partner will stick to their pledges, or if their promises are a mere lip service, then your relationship is in definite need of some help.
Dependability between you and your partner is necessary for emotional security and trust. It is vital that you know you can depend on each other no matter what! However, not knowing if your partner will follow through with what they’ve promised to do, will cause underlying anxiety and put your relationship on edge.
6. Small Disagreements do not Mushroom Into Huge Blowouts
As partners, you are likely to disagree over simple things such as which TV show is the best, favorite activities, etc. Whatever you disagree over, in a healthy relationship, you both give the other person room to disagree and leave it at that. It doesn’t blow up into a major argument. Neither person is considered “always right” or “always wrong”.
The tendency for little fights to spiral out of control is often a hallmark of a toxic relationship. Even the smallest of disagreements somehow trigger those deep hurts and resentments and they can quickly become intense blowouts!
7. There is Genuine and Consistent Communication with Your Partner
How often do you communicate with your partner in an honest and open way? Communication in this case refers to a two-way interaction between you and your partner. It takes effort to develop a healthy relationship out of open and honest communication. A toxic relationship is characterized by serious arguments and problems, which often stems from lack of communication. If your relationship is plagued with constant arguments and challenges, then the signal sent to you is that you are in a toxic relationship.
In summary, all relationships have their problem areas and areas that are more difficult than others. That is normal. We all have areas that need improvement. However, if you are feeling like there are areas that are toxic in your relationship and you would like to improve it, there is plenty of help available to revitalize your relationship and make it better than ever! Counseling is a great way to address your concerns with your partner in an open non-judgmental environment and help you get back on the right track. During such a session, you should create a win-win situation by not only addressing the areas that have been troubling you, but by also letting your partner identify the things they wish you would do differently. Let your partner know that you care deeply about them and just want your relationship to be the best in every area!
If you would like to work on your relationship with a highly respected relationship expert, Dr. Michael Cristiano is for you! Located in Boca Raton, Florida, Dr. Cristiano is a leader in his field, maintaining the highest level of professionalism, earning the coveted Psychology Today verification. Call and schedule your appointment with Dr. Cristiano by calling 561-962-0450. Take that first step to creating a fulfilling, nourishing and supportive relationship!