What Is a Relationship?
To have a relationship, or friendship with someone, implies that there is connection. We like to think of this as a positive thing. A connection–a way to share common ground, offer support, and honesty. You can have a relationship in dating, marriage, friendship, heck even with co-workers or pets.
Today, I want to look at those relationships in your life that you know are unhealthy. It could be someone you’re dating, maybe a friend or acquaintance, or perhaps a family member.
The thing is, when we interact with others, some sort of relationship forms. There is always an element of trust in differing degrees and listening to your gut is important. If your gut says someone isn’t good for you, then step back. Human relationships, with all the varying degrees of connection, are so complex and complicated that we often question our own judgement and though we know the truth, we ignore it.
Many people, me included, have a close bond and relationship with our pets. These are for the most part very positive connections and ones that we seek out to maintain, and even strengthen, our mental health. My dog Piper is a great listener. She doesn’t judge and she never talks back. ❤️
So, a relationship is about sharing, understanding, and caring. The problem is that sometimes those things are not present and as a result, mental health, self-esteem, and personal growth are adversely affected.
Over the years, I’ve experienced bad relationships where my needs were totally ignored by the other party. I’ve also reluctantly walked away from supposed “friendships” when I felt the shift to being used and taken for granted. We all have stories and it makes us who we are.
The important thing is in recognizing what a relationship is not, and then digging deep to find the courage to do something about it.
Let’s take a look at what a relationship is not. It is not:
- full of one-sided secrets
- laced with doubt
- about aloneness, isolation, or loneliness
- a constant adversarial exchange
- meant to make you question your worth
- put downs, belittling, or abusive
- deceit and lying– to you or to others
- depravation of affection, support, attention, and accountability
- about disrespect and tricks
- a feeling of walking on egg-shells
- about fear of retribution or put-downs
- lack of recognition from the other party
All of these things not only undercut a relationship or friendship, but are also damaging for your mental health. The list is by no means complete because each situation and those involved are different.
Do you know what gaslighting is? It’s a sneaky one. This is about the undermining of someone’s mental health for their own satisfaction, gain, or control. An example might be something like someone saying: Oh calm down, you’re always so dramatic. You don’t even know what’s going on…
The words are one thing, but it’s really about how they make you feel.
How should a relationship feel?
What a great question, eh? The thing is, a relationship can be challenging, constantly changing, or sometimes even a bit hard-nosed–BUT–and it’s a big but… a relationship should feel safe and non-threatening–even in times of strife or anger.
In a healthy relationship you should be able to:
- express your own interests
- always feel safe and secure
- know from actions and words of the other person, that they’re interested in your thoughts/your life/your well-being
- speak your mind without reprisal (or fear of reprisal)
- disagree and argue your point without fear of violence, belittling, or ignorance
- feel like the other person is your #1 cheerleader
- be vulnerable and speak your truth
- pursue a passion without judgement
- give and receive encouragement towards personal growth
- feel seen and heard
- define your own boundaries and have those respected
A healthy relationship keeps the doors and windows wide open. Plenty of air is circulating and no one feels trapped. Relationships thrive in this environment. Keep your doors and windows open. If the person is meant to be in your life, all the open doors and windows in the world, will not make them leave. Trust the truth.”Author Unknown. Source: psychcentral.com
I found this quote about healthy relationships and wanted to share it with you. Whoever wrote it was very smart and I like the simplicity. I’ll add that in a relationship there is a complimentary bond of respect but there is also freedom, not to stray, but to allow the other to grow and flourish as a person.
The key to your mental health within your relationship is to listen to that little voice…
It’s probably one of the most difficult things to do… listen to our doubts, our excuses, and our own truth. Very often we already know the answer, but it’s very scary to actually say it out loud.
Over the years, I’ve shed enough tears over relationships that I could probably fill a bathtub. There were the times I was taken advantage of, dumped. ugh…double ugh… Then there was a time, I left the country to get away from a relationship only to return home and pick up where I left off–so unhealthy. Not the smartest move and one of my biggest regrets as that particular relationship continued to chip away at my self esteem and mental health for years.
That’s going back many years. I was young and people didn’t talk about mental health then. The key now is to be aware of your own mental health and define your boundaries. Knowing who you are and being able to identify what is unhealthy, could save you a lot of heart break, not to mention valuable time in your life to get on with what is in your own best interest
That inside naggy voice that says this doesn’t feel right…
Oh my God, that voice is your your gut and mental health trying to poke you in the head to say you need to make a change. When you start calling yourself names because of thoughts or doubts you have, your own well-being, or the choices you continue to make, you know it’s time to stop and reevaluate the relationship.
Remember that one relationship I went back to after returning home. Everyday I told myself I was stupid for continuing. I knew it was unhealthy. I knew it would never work. Hell, I beat my mental self up so much that my solution to end it, was to leave again. That decision saved my life. It really did. We learn through life, but the discussion is so much more open and available now than what it was for me back so many years ago.
That voice inside of you, that belittles and starts to knock you off your own self worth, means you need to take a step back and question where that’s coming from and why. If you’re in an unhealthy relationship sometimes the most difficult thing is to admit it to others. I’ll tell you though that often others already see it, and you may be surprised how many have been waiting for you to speak up.
Listen to your gut. It has your mental health and well-being in it’s best interest.
Take a look back on this post and if you’re not feeling heard, someone is belittling who you are, cuts you off, calls you stupid/fat/ugly/worthless/trash, or is stifling you as a person… sit down and consider your options. Remember, I’m always here for you. I’ll listen and let you know what I think.
Auntie Lesson: There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship but there’s definitely such a thing as destructive and unhealthy relationships. Become aware, if you’re not already, of your own mental health. Don’t overstay your welcome. Below are a few links of previous posts I’ve written if you want to read a bit more.
Be healthy. Be yourself. xoxo
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed my post. What do you think about mental health and relationships?