Being in a relationship can be one of the most exciting times of our lives, especially if we feel loved, appreciated, supported, and understood. But what if we don’t?
What if we feel afraid, belittled, used or even scared?
These feelings could be a sign that you are in an unhealthy relationship.
It’s so common, getting stuck in a relationship where you are not valued and treated with respect. And we are all worth so much more than that! That’s why I’ve decided to start a series on unhealthy relationships.
This is the first of four posts where I talk about the signs of an unhealthy relationship, share bits of my own experience in an unhealthy relationships, discuss why your relationship may be a mistake + what you can do about it, and explain how to move past a break-up without letting it break you.
Below are 12 actions, feelings, and behaviors that may occur in an unhealthy relationships.
To keep things simple, I am going to use the word “boyfriend” to describe the other person in the relationship throughout this series. However, remember that unhealthy relationships can happen with anyone: parents, friends, relatives, or romantic partners of any sex.
12 Signs You’re in an Unhealthy Relationship
1. Physical force or threats of force. If your boyfriend uses physical force to get you to do something you don’t want to do, or to stop you from doing something you want to do, that is unhealthy and potentially abusive. This includes punching, slapping, restraining, and shoving, along with other acts of physical force.
2. Verbal weapons. When your boyfriend is upset, does he curse, call you names, say degrading comments, or criticize you? If he does, you are in an unhealthy relationship and being treated with disrespect. Nobody should ever be hurt or threatened in a relationship. Ever.
3. Feeling afraid to disagree. You should feel comfortable voicing your opinion and expressing your thoughts and feelings in your relationship. If you are afraid to do so, think about where that fear is coming from. Maybe you’d rather go see a movie tonight, but your boyfriend really wants to watch a baseball game. Can you let him know, or are you afraid of how he might react?
4. Ignoring, making fun of, or dismissing you. This goes along with number 3. When you share your thoughts and feelings, your boyfriend should be supportive and understanding. If he ignores you, makes fun of you, or does not pay attention when you’re talking, he is being disrespectful and rude. He should listen, ask questions, and be genuinely interested in your life.
5. Controlling behaviors. Does your boyfriend try to control who you hang out with, what you wear, or what you do for fun? Have you given up things that are important to you because he didn’t like them? Healthy relationships allow people to make their own decisions, have their own interests, and have meaningful relationships with other friends. Even if your boyfriend can’t stand Justin Bieber, that shouldn’t stop you from going to his concert and having an awesome time with your friends.
6. Lying. This can take many forms, but most obviously, it means not telling you the truth. Did you boyfriend tell you that he was out with his friend, John, last night, but you saw John at the mall with his parents? Healthy relationships are built on trust and honesty. Unhealthy relationships are built on lies and deceit. Which would you rather have?
7. Blaming. Does you boyfriend blame you when he’s late for school, when really it was that super long train that caused him to miss the bell? If you feel like everything is your fault or you are constantly blamed when something goes wrong, your relationship may be unhealthy. Relationships require compromise, negotiation, and problem-solving. You learn to work through your problems together, not place blame on the other person.
8. Jealousy and Possessiveness. He hates when you talk to other guys. He won’t let you sit next to anyone. He gets angry when you make new friends. Jealousy is created by a fear of the “competition” which shows a lack of trust within the relationship. If there is no trust within the relationship, it is not healthy.
9. Trying to change you. Your boyfriend may like when you wear your Converse over your heels, and that’s fine, but asking you change your style, hair cut, or personality is not okay. Healthy relationships embrace each other’s own individuality. He should love you for the awesome person you are.
10. Pressure to have sex. You should never feel pressured to have sex. If your boyfriend is pressuring you or not listening when you say “no”, he is not respecting you. Anything other than “yes” is a “no” when it comes to sex. Sex is free choice that grows out of caring, love, and respect for each other.
11. Obsession. Do you constantly think about him? Like, 24/7? We know you like each other, but being obsessed with each other’s problems and feelings is not healthy. You should have your own interests, concerns, thoughts, and feelings. You are important too!
12. Clinging. Can you spend a weekend with your girlfriends without worrying what he’s doing? Do you have to call him every 3 hours because you miss him so much? Healthy relationships are able to enjoy being alone and spending time away from each other. Of course, it’s important to spend time together, but being apart for a few days should not feel like your world is ending.
If your relationship shows one or more of these signs, you may want to talk to your boyfriend about it. Realizing that you are in an unhealthy relationship can be surprising and life-altering. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. You already have at least one person on your side: Me!
And don’t forget to come back next week to find out the honest truth about how I was in an unhealthy relationship and how I go out of it.