We may come across situations in a relationship when we have to say ‘no’, especially when being asked to act against our values or morals. Despite sometimes being difficult, it can be beneficial to your own mental health and relationship.
Signs of an unhealthy relationship
- Consistently putting a partner’s needs before one’s own
- Feeling pressured by a partner to quit hobbies, or change aspects of one’s personality
- Feeling obligated or forced to have a sexual relationship
- Continuous arguments and/or lack of communication
- Experiencing emotional manipulation or guilt trip
- Lack of respect for partner’s friends and family
A more extreme case of an unhealthy relationship may involve domestic violence. If you, or someone you know, are experiencing domestic violence, contact your local police station.
Love addiction is characterised by extreme and recurrent obsessive thinking and craving for an individual. Just like in any addiction disorder, the brain's natural reward system, the mesolimbic pathway, is involved. This form of addiction may be caused by anxiety or depression, loneliness or romantic idealisation.
Ending an unhealthy relationship
The first step in ending an unhealthy relationship is acknowledgement. The following should be kept in consideration as you take the next steps to end a relationship.
- Be Self-compassionate: put your own safety and happiness first, and seek support from trusted family and friends or a professional.
- Plan: plan ahead on the steps you are going to take to end the relationship. If need be, consult with a trusted support person.
- Defy Cognitive Dissonance: In this situation, cognitive dissonance is a phenomenon where the brain attempts to convince you that staying in an unhealthy relationship despite the warning signs is justified. Being aware of this phenomena might help to look at the situation from a different and more insightful perspective, and resist it.
How to say no to sex
- Be aware of when you are being pressured into having sex: language like ‘if you love me you will do it’ and ‘if you do it, I will be more …’ are common examples of being pressured by a sexual partner
- Know your physical and emotional boundaries: these can vary between people and situations
- Ask yourself if you are ready to have sex: determine whether you are comfortable taking this step with a partner
If you have considered the steps above, and are still uncomfortable about having sex, let your partner know in a firm, confident and honest manner. For support with this step, consult with a mental health professional.