MHAW16 (Day 5): Destructive Relationships

A healthy relationship with your friends, family or partner can allow you to grow, flourish and can have an important impact on your wellbeing. However, there is a dark side to relationships and being vulnerable in some relationships or being in contact with the wrong people can allow us to be victims of any type of abuse. Abuse can come in the form of obvious physical abuse to very subtle and long-lasting emotional abuse. Any kind of abuse can be equally as destructive to the individual. Therefore, it is important for our wellbeing to recognise the signs and do all we can to take ourselves of that situation to avoid getting hurt in the future.
How do you know you’re in a destructive relationship?
Sometimes we may not even realise that we are in a destructive relationship, for whatever reason. Here are 3 signs that could indicate that your friendships or relationships are unhealthy:
1. You cannot trust your friend/partner: Healthy relationships are supposed to be built on honesty and trustworthiness. For the most part, you should be able to trust your friend/partner – trusting that they won’t do anything to hurt you or trusting that they are telling the truth if they have. Conflict in relationships is inevitable and all relationships are not without their problems. The way that conflict is dealt with can reveal how healthy your relationship/friendships are. How your friend, family member or partner responds or reacts to you when you address an issue can give you invaluable information about the type of person they are. I’m sure we have all experienced relationships where someone is in complete denial or will lie their way through to achieve a desired outcome. This can be incredibly frustrating when done consistently and you also have to be honest about how their lies/denial makes you feel. People lie for various reasons but even if it is to prevent you from being hurt, you deserve to be around those who can be open and honest with you, no matter how difficult it may be for them.
2. You are always the giver: Healthy relationships are all about reciprocating – giving and taking whether that’s with money, time or energy spent in maintaining a healthy relationship/friendship. After a while relationships/friendships can hit a “rough patch” and you may notice that you seem to be doing more ‘giving’ and they seem to be doing more ‘taking’. Being the ‘giver’ in your friendship/relationships is emotionally draining and definitely not what you signed up to. You did not sign up to be someone else’s ‘carer’, ‘baby sitter’ or ‘parent’ and if you feel like you are, you need to be clear about that as soon as possible. You should not have to fight for a place in someone else’s life and you deserve to have your needs met and have people around you who appreciate your efforts and are willing to reciprocate them.
3. They always try to change you: Your partner/friend should be able to express themselves fully and say how they feel. However, when their criticisms or put-downs occur frequently towards you during your conversations, this can be emotionally taxing and have a bad impact on how we feel about ourselves. If that person is truly a friend and has your best interests at heart, they should not try too hard to change you or constantly find faults at every given moment. You should never feel as though you have a lower status in your relationship/friendship. Sometimes people feel the need to step on others in order to elevate themselves and you may start to question whether what they’re telling you is right. A friend/partner should support you at your best and encourage you at your worst. If that person feels the need to correct or embarrass you (either in public or in private) you need to speak up and demand the respect you deserve. If they respond with yet more criticism, it’s time to move on. You don’t have the time and energy to waste by waiting for them to change and if they valued you as a person, they would.
There are several reasons why we may persist maintaining a relationship that is unhealthy for us. Sometimes, we want to feel needed, are afraid of being alone or have a desire to be liked. As humans, it’s natural for us to want to help people as best as we can. However, there’s a difference between helping and co-dependency and there comes a point where we have to cut our losses and move on. We don’t have much control over whether people decide to hurt us or not, but we can choose how we respond to pain by either ignoring it or continuing to bare through it. We each have our own emotional thresholds and reach a point when we say “I’ve had enough. I cannot take anymore.” That is when we can start to heal and prepare ourselves for more healthy, fulfilling relationships or friendships.

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