By Jennifer Seigworth
Relationships are a part of our everyday lives, no matter what type of relationship you are referring to. Whether it is family, friendship, co-worker or romantic; most are healthy, but some may be unhealthy. From the outside looking in, it is easy to spot an unhealthy relationship, but it is harder to see the difference between healthy and unhealthy when it is your own.
Below, you will find a few characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships to compare.
• Invites growth and accepts limitations
• Shows affection
• Feels safe to share intimate feelings
• Equal giving and receiving
• Does not try to change or control partner
• Bring out the best in each other
• Afraid to let go
• Fear of change or growth
• Mind games
• Giving as manipulation
• Afraid of affection
• Low self-worth, dependent on partner or others
• Mentally or physically abusive, controlling
These seem more likely to relate to romantic relationships but if you think about family or friends, many of these characteristics are visible as well. When we connect with others, we bring our best and our worst to the relationship.
In a healthy relationship, each person is given space and tolerance for individuality. Each person brings their own uniqueness to the relationship. If either person tries to change the other or if either denies room for individual growth, the relationship will suffer.
The right match for two people is seen in the ability to bring out the partner’s best qualities. In fact there is a quote from an unknown source that goes, “Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but they are always perfect for you.” You do not have to believe in soul mates to know there are almost perfectly matched friends, family and mates. I am blessed enough to have had several family members and friends placed in my life who have been supportive and helped me grow as a person. I have tried to do the same in return.
I have also experienced unhealthy relationships wherein I felt controlled, ridiculed and stifled from growth. Seeing the unhealthy relationships and getting free of those relationships was extremely hard to do, but I grew stronger in my faith and in character by distancing myself from those people. It may not be easy, but it can be done!
Cherish your healthy relationships. If you have an unhealthy relationship with someone, do not lose hope. It does not always mean that relationship is not salvageable, but both people in the relationship have to be willing to see the unhealthy habits and want to grow and change. It may sound impossible, but there are many great success stories of family members, friends and romantic partners discovering their own unhealthy behaviors and turning them around in order to grow closer. The rewards of healthy relationships are worth the hard work.
However, if there is no desire to see the need for change in an unhealthy relationship, either by one party or both; then there may be a need to end the relationship or distance oneself for the health of both people. Unhealthy relationships can become toxic and often cause physical and mental health problems in those involved. Experiencing undue pressure and/or abusive behavior from another person is never acceptable.
Stay hopeful and do not be afraid to ask for help in dealing with this. If you are facing a dangerous situation, there are people and services that can help you. It takes faith and bravery to seek help. Believe me, you have it in you. Your life and well-being matter.