What is a Healthy Relationship?
A healthy relationship is one that’s supportive, honest, and has a positive impact on the lives of both people involved. Relationship health is important for all relationships, not just those that are romantic. As an essential component of any well-rounded life, healthy relationships are important to cultivate for people of all ages.
An unhealthy relationship can cause stress, discomfort, and even harm. This makes it important to understand and avoid the makings of an unhealthy relationship. When communication, boundaries, and/or respect are compromised in a relationship, it often has a negative impact on at least one of the people in the relationship.
To develop and maintain a healthy relationship, it’s important for both parties to be conscientious and respectful. Some relationships may start off healthy and become unhealthy over time, or vice versa. Oftentimes, a lack of empathy can lead to toxicity in a relationship. While an unhealthy or “toxic” relationship can be fixed, it’s important for the unhealthy behaviors to be recognized and addressed in order to regain trust. Not all unhealthy relationships can be fixed, however, and one may need to walk away from it in order to regain comfort and a sense of self.
Signs of Relationship Issues
Signs of a Healthy Relationship
While no relationship is perfect, a healthy relationship is one in which both parties strive to maintain positivity, respect, and communication. The following are common signs of a healthy relationship:
- The relationship moves at a pace that both people are comfortable with
- Mutual trust is present; you know that the other person wouldn’t intentionally hurt you or your relationship
- Both people are independent and confident as individuals
- Both people engage in activities apart from the relationship
- Both people engage with friends and family apart from the relationship
- Both people provide comfort and support to each other
- Both people can be completely honest with each other without fear for the other person’s response
- Both people are interested in the others’ activities
- Neither person fears violence in the relationship
- There is mutual respect for opinions, beliefs, feelings, privacy, and boundaries
- The relationship is balanced and equal
- Conflict in the relationship is resolved fairly
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you may experience one or more of the following:
- Feeling pressured to change, quit activities, or stop seeing family/other friends
- Fear over disagreeing with the other person
- A lack of privacy and/or boundaries
- Feeling dependent on the other person
- Conflict in the relationship isn’t resolved fairly
- Conflict often leads to yelling or violence
- Trying to manipulate or feeling manipulated by the other person
- Inequality and unfairness in the relationship
- Pressure to have sex or engage in unsafe safe
- Criticism over how you behave, dress, etc.
How are Relationship Issues Resolved?
If you suspect that you’re in an unhealthy relationship, you can seek professional help. Receiving professional help can ease the stress and emotional trauma that can result from a toxic relationship.
Therapy, either for couples or individuals, is the best treatment option for unhealthy relationships. Through talk therapy, people in unhealthy relationships can learn about healthy coping styles and set positive relationship goals. In the case of couples therapy, the involvement of a neutral third party, the therapist, can help to settle conflict in a productive manner. With consistent couples therapy, people in an unhealthy relationship can develop strategies to fairly resolve conflicts on their own.
It’s important to note that for an unhealthy relationship to benefit from therapy, both people must be willing to make an effort. It takes significant time and energy to resolve problems in an unhealthy relationship. If one person isn’t willing to commit to recovering the relationship, couples therapy is unlikely to help.
Not all unhealthy relationships can be treated. A relationship can be past the point of repair, especially if one partner is fearful of the other, or if the bond between the two people has faded. If you’re coming out of an unhealthy relationship, therapy can help you process thoughts and emotions. Therapy can help you move on from the breakup and better understand how to foster healthy relationships in the future.
WHEN TO SEE A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL
Mental health issues are real, common, and treatable. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 20% of those are considered serious. 17% of 6-17 year olds experience a mental health disorder. So the first thing to remember is this: You are not alone.
If you feel that you are suffering from a mental illness, and particularly if those issues are preventing you from living life to the full or feeling yourself, you may want to consider professional help which can make an enormous difference.
And to be clear, you don't need to be going through a crisis in order to justify getting help. In fact, it can be advantageous from a treatment perspective to identify and deal with issues early and before they have a major impact on your life. Either way you should feel encouraged and able to seek help however you are feeling.
Mental health professionals such as licensed therapist can help in a range of ways including:
- Help you identify where, when, and how issues arise
- Develop coping strategies for specific symptoms and issues
- Encourage resilience and self-management
- Identify and change negative behaviors
- Identify and encourage positive behaviors
- Heal pain from past trauma
- Figure out goals and waypoints
- Build self-confidence
Treatment for mental health issues, and psychotherapy (sometimes known as 'talk therapy') in particular, frequently helps people to feel better, manage, and even get rid of their symptoms. For example, did you know that over 80% of people treated for depression materially improve? Or that treatment for panic disorder has a 90% success rate?
Other treatment options include medication which, in some cases, can be highly effective when administered in combination with psychotherapy.
So what is psychotherapy? It involves talking about your problems and concerns with a mental health professional. It can take lots of forms, including individual, group, couples and family sessions. Often, people see their therapists once a week for 50 minutes to start with and then reducing frequency as time goes on and issues subside. Treatment can be as short as a few weeks or as long as a few years depending on your particular situation and response.
Never think that getting help is a sign of weakness. It isn't. In fact, it can be a sign of strength and maturity to take the steps necessary to becoming you again and getting your life back on track.
WHEN TO GET EMERGENCY HELP
Are you in distress? If so, or if you think that you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Also consider these options if you're having suicidal thoughts:
- Call your mental health specialist.
- Call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
- Seek help from your primary doctor or other health care provider.
- Reach out to a close friend or loved one.
- Contact a minister, spiritual leader or someone else in your faith community.
If a loved one or friend is in danger of attempting suicide or has made an attempt:
- Make sure someone stays with that person.
- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Or, if you can do so safely, take the person to the nearest hospital emergency room.