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Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships

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Healthy connections with other people can be incredibly beneficial for an individual’s mental health, be they relationships with friends, partners or family members. However, relationships can also be unhealthy for one’s mental health. Being able to identify healthy and unhealthy relationship factors, as well as ways to seek help from an unhealthy relationship, can help to promote healthier social environments.

What does a healthy relationship look like?

There are no fixed criteria for a healthy relationship. However, there are some common factors that typically exist within them. These include:

Autonomy

Building and maintaining a relationship without neglecting one’s own preferences and needs. 

Tips for Relationship Autonomy:

  • More frequent discussion on each partner’s desires and needs
  • Asking your partner’s preferences instead of controlling or assuming them
  • Setting healthy boundaries

Trust

Feeling safe, as well as comfortable to share intimacy or one’s vulnerabilities.

Tips for Building Trust:

  • Understanding that controlling the person or invading their privacy will not build a healthier bond
  • Sharing vulnerable moments with the other person and not disclosing any confidential information they have shared with you 

Honesty

Tips for building honesty:

  • Talk through any guilt or mistakes made in the relationship and try to work it out through communication
  • Try to limit emotionally fuelled conflicts to encourage disclosure
  • Communicate your expectations and desires in the relationship

Healthy communication

Clearly and respectfully expressing thoughts, feelings and desires.

Tips for practicing healthy communication:

  • Not to avoiding topics that involve deeper connection or openness, such as feedback or sexual preferences in romantic relationships
  • Using a calm, respectful tone during conflicts
  • Actively listening to the other person
  • Using “I” statements such as “I feel” or “I was hurt” to remove blame

Identifying an unhealthy relationship

Unhealthy or toxic relationships aren’t always obvious. Feelings of affection towards the other individual can encourage denial or justification, making it hard to address relationship problems. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify signs of toxic relationships.

Factors in an unhealthy relationship can include:

  • A lack of trust between you and the other person
  • The other person displaying overprotective and jealous behaviours, such as text or phone call bombardment and constant monitoring
  • Refusal to communicate or listen to each other
  • One or both partners manipulating each other to suit their needs or desires

Ways to seek help if you or a loved one is in a toxic relationship

Toxic relationships can be hard to get out from or fix, especially if you have become attached to your partner.

Ways to go about this can include:

  • Communicating by expressing your discomfort and discussing how you can both improve the relationship
  • Consulting an individual or relationship therapist if you need guidance, or if the relationship starts to affect your mental health
  • If nothing works, cutting the person off may be needed if it is possible and will benefit your long-term mental health
  • If you feel like you’re in danger and you can’t shake them off, don’t hesitate to involve the authorities to keep you safe

References

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