How do you know if you’re in an unhealthy relationship? What does that even mean? Doesn’t everyone have some negative things in their relationship? Doesn’t everyone just need to take the bad with the good and shut up about it?
Well, not all negative or unhealthy behaviors are created equal. There are some key signs that, if they’re around, mean you need to make some changes… pronto.
I’ve met so many people who minimize the negative behaviors, actions and words of their partners because, deep down, they think that acknowledging them, means they’ll have to deal with them. And what they’re really afraid of, is that their partner wont work on their issues and they’ll need to break up or divorce. Since this is something they’re not willing to do, they end up ignoring all the bad stuff and staying in a form of denial.
I’m here to tell you that you can stop being so afraid of what might happen. Instead, get real about what is and isn’t working in your relationship and start taking the steps to fix it.
After you read this blog, you’ll be able to identify the five signs that you’re in an unhealthy relationship and five specific ways to fix it… today!
You can remember the 5 signs with the acronym: CRAVE.
Unhealthy Sign #1: Criticism
If you’re always criticizing your partner, or if they’re often criticizing you, its a problem. If you or your partner are constantly evaluating, reviewing or judging, its going to create a rift in your relationship. Why the focus on the other persons behavior? Who died and made you (or your partner) boss? When any of us get in a position of believing were right and then go about cutting down another person, it leads to resentment, anger and hurt.
Unhealthy Sign #2: Reading Minds
Don’t expect anyone to read your mind and remember that you cant read anyone else’s mind either! Don’t think: I know what shes going to say or I shouldn’t have to say it, he should know. No, you don’t know (yeah, I said it). And if you are so sure what the other person is going to say, why aren’t you trying a different approach so you can get a different response? Why are you using it as an excuse to not say anything yourself and let things stay the same. Also, if you’re expecting someone else to read your mind, forget it. If you have something to say, say it. Don’t set other people up to prove their love for you. Its not fair and its really not nice. Set others up to win: let them know what you’re thinking.
Unhealthy Sign #3: Attack and Blame
When you attack and blame someone else, who has the power? Is it you? No, its the other person. When you’re so angry that you attack and blame them, they now have all your power. The control belongs to them because attacking and blaming others avoids personal
responsibility. You’re basically putting the other person on the defensive, deciding that its all their fault (or mostly) and the focus and attention is off of you and what you can do and on to them and what they’re doing (or not doing).
Unhealthy Sign #4: Victim
You’re not a victim in this world. Yes, you might have been victimized. The world can be a difficult and unfair place and most of the people I meet have been victimized at some point in their lives, in some way. So, being victimized is often unavoidable but, acting like a victim, is optional. Never think poor me. This type of thinking does nothing to help you move forward in your life or relationship. I’m not saying you can never have yourself a little pity party. When bad stuff happens, its important to take a step back and lick our wounds. Whats also important is not to live in that place the rest of your life. Take the time to grieve, mourn or feel bad and then find a time to move on.
Unhealthy Sign #5: Entitled
The last sign that you’re in an unhealthy relationship? Its when you or your partner are acting entitled. Here’s the stark truth: No one owes you anything: not your partner, not your parents and not your friends. Thinking that there’s something that should come your way is an issue (whether its you thinking it or your partner). Feeling you’re owed sets the other person up for failure because you’re focusing on what they should do instead of what they are doing.
If you want a healthy relationship, you can’t CRAVE (and neither can the other person) Instead, here are five things to create a connected, happy and fulfilled relationship. You can remember these strategies by bringing some FLAIR to every one of your relationships:
Sign #1 Your Relationship Rocks: Focus on the Here and Now
If you want an awesome relationship, you’ve got to be in the here and now, often. This means you need to be present and focused on whats happening now. Don’t think about what happened yesterday or what you’re worried will happen tomorrow. Each day, take what your partner does on the face value of that day only. Don’t think, Well sure, hes acting nice today but its only a matter of time until he starts being a jerk again. This type of thinking only sets your partner up to not even try. You’re right, their behavior wont magically change over night. But, do you think they’ll continue to try if you never give any credit or props for those times they get it right? If you only focus on when they get it wrong, they’re going to stop trying to get it right. They’ll think, Why bother? I want you to draw a line in the sand and start with TODAY. What are you and your partner doing today? That’s what counts.
Sign #2 Your Relationship Rocks: Love
You can’t make someone love you, but you can love them. If you want to see more love in your relationship, be more loving. I say this over and over again to the couples I work with. If you’re acting nasty, fearful and angry all the time, how do you expect a love relationship to grow? Love begets love. Its as simple (and hard) as that. Its easy to act loving to your partner when you’re both in a loving place. Whats tough, is to act loving when you’re partner isn’t! But, isn’t that when you need love the most? On a daily basis, act out of love, not fear, in your relationship.
Sign #3 Your Relationship Rocks: Ask Questions
I tell people all the time that its important not to SAC your relationship. This means, don’t make Suggestions, give Advice or Criticize. The next thing I hear from my clients is, Well, whats left?! Whats left is the most important thing you can do to create an open, intimate and healthy relationship. I want you to start asking questions instead of making statements. Don’t assume you know. Instead, listen like you’re wrong (yes, I said that too). If you were wrong, wouldn’t you be asking questions so you could figure out how to get it right or understand what the other person was saying? Its an awesome tool for all your relationships.
Sign #4 Your Relationship Rocks: Invest 100%
One of the most critical things you can do in your relationship is put in 100% effort. I say this all the time: If you put in 50% effort at a job, would you expect raises and promotions? No, of course not. So, why do you think its OK to put in 50% in your relationship? If you want to get intimacy, laughter, connection and awesome sex out of your relationship, you’ve got to look at what you’re putting into your relationship. The key to this is to focus on your 100%, not the other persons effort! Don’t worry about them putting in their 100% and never make your 100% effort contingent on your partner doing the same. That’s called keeping score and, as I like to say, if you’re keeping score in your relationship, you’re going to lose. Give 100% of yourself, with love, and watch the magic happen!
Sign #5 Your Relationship Rocks: Responsibility
At the end of the day, this is the thing you must do if you want a healthy relationship. You need to take responsibility for your part. Remember, you’re not a victim and your partner doesn’t do anything to you. If you hear yourself using this language, I want you to stop and take a breath. Now, think of one thing (no matter how small) that you could do to move the situation forward. That’s taking responsibility. It doesn’t mean that your partner doesn’t also have responsibility. The problem is: you cant control that (yeah, I said it)! You cant control your partner or what they do (nor should you try). In any situation with your partner, I want you to ask yourself, What part of this is mine? What could you do differently moving forward? Whats one action you could take?
That’s it for today. Make sure no one CRAVEs in your relationship and offer up some FLAIR to keep your relationship on track and out of trouble.