Subtle Differences Between Healthy And Unhealthy Relationships

I think trying to figure out whether you are in a healthy relationship or not is one of the hardest things a person can do. Your friends might have their own assessment of things, but they don’t know the real story of your relationship. That said, it’s also difficult to remain impartial on the matter when by definition, you aren’t. You’re meant to be, anyway. Here are a few subtle differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships that you might have missed.

  1. You love the idea of them, not the reality. It can actually take a hot minute to realize that there’s a difference between these two phrases. First of all, this requires there to be enough space and time in the relationship to identify patterns and trends, and not just be along for the ride. Healthy relationships involve addressing and identifying doubts. It might dispel the perfect image you have of someone in your mind, but you’re stronger than that. When you just love the idea of them, it’s based on the person you never thought you’d get with when you were younger. A farce. A ghost. That person isn’t real, and it’s not healthy.
  2. You’re obsessed with your partner. Love isn’t an obsession. Say it with me again. Love isn’t absolute and without qualification. It’s all about seeing the flaws and learning together and going on a journey of development. You can’t absorb everything of them into your personality and call that love. There’s no collaboration or listening or being understood. You idolize them, but you’re meant to be equals. It gives the other person in the relationship a power dynamic at best, but control over you, at worse. Rethink your own agency. Say what you mean, you’re more than their love for you.
  3. You get indifferent. Maybe the opposite happens. Perhaps you both feel too closed up and trapped with one another. You haven’t had a date night in ages, and you’ve stopped dressing up for each other. There’s still time to salvage things, but it’s a huge red flag and a sign of an unhealthy relationship. But more than that, it’s just boring! You deserve enrichment. Love is all about opportunities and the future, not being idle.
  4. You can’t handle change. This can go one of two ways. Either you come to prefer your partner’s time above everyone else, or, at the other end of the spectrum, you start to avoid them by only hanging out with your friends. People should aspire to a happy medium between these two. You still need a support group of friends around you to have a well-rounded life, but it’s also got to be important to you to spend time with your partner. That’s why they’re there.
  5. You get too comfortable with long-distance. Long-distance can be a blessing and a curse. In some cases, it strengthens relationships because you just learn to make things work. However, it can also put an early end to a relationship by putting too much pressure on each interaction. It’s hard. But some people start getting distracted, cheating, or forgetting to miss their partners when they’re apart. They’re not committed and it reveals the unhealthy or shallow dynamic to the relationship. It is better to know now, at least.
  6. You stop communicating. This is code red. If you’ve started to bottle things up, you’re in trouble. It will lead to you resenting them for making you feel anxious. You will find yourself in a cycle of repression and dissatisfaction. It’s unhealthy.
  7. You complain to your friends. We all want to share with our friends. But, equally, we don’t want to be ‘that’ friend that becomes such a negative blight to group hangs. Your friends deserve to hear about you and good things in your life, if you’re not going to break up, find solutions, don’t expect them to have all the answers for your emotional download.
  8. You put your partner on a pedestal. This isn’t healthy either if they can do no wrong. Assert your needs. All the time you will be too concerned about upsetting or interrupting them that you will be a bystander to your own relationship. Just don’t.

So there you have it, a few differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Take them with a pinch of salt and be kind to yourself as you reflect.

Hannah has a Masters degree in Romantic and Victorian literature in Scotland and spends her spare time writing anything from essays to short fiction about the life and times of the frogs in her local pond! She loves musical theatre, football, anything with potatoes, and remains a firm believer that most of the problems in this world can be solved by dancing around the kitchen to ABBA. You can find her on Instagram at @_hannahvic.