Healthy relationships can be powerful containers for growth and love. An unhealthy relationship, on the other hand, grows toxicity and resentment. However sometimes those glaring red flags are hard to spot when you’re head over heels for someone. Take for instance Carrie and Mr. Big in Sex and the City. While it’s easy to romanticize their off-on relationship, the evidence is pretty clear: they were knee deep in an unhealthy relationship. Big couldn’t communicate his feelings to Carrie let alone commit to her while Carrie repeatedly forgave and enabled his unhealthy behavior without ever really calling him out on his crap. Do you think you’re in the midst of a toxic Big and Carrie romance? Here are five ways to tell if you’re in an unhealthy relationship.
1. You Are Criticized and Diminished
Does your partner put you down a lot? Do they imply that they are the “smart one” and diminish you as the “dumb one” in the relationship? Do they criticize your appearance? Do they find fault in every action you do, including everything from your work ethic or to loading a dishwasher? Do they mock you in public? These are all tell-tales of an unhealthy relationship. A healthy relationship is one in which you encourage and support and value each other. How can you grow as a person or even within a relationship if you’re constantly deemed worthless?
2. You Don’t Feel Safe Within Your Relationship
While this certainly can refer to your physical safety, it also includes your emotional safety. Are you able to confide to your partner without fear of contempt or belittlement? Do you feel safe to reveal your fears and intimate feelings? Do you find that you reach out to friends and family for emotional support over your partner? If you’re not able to speak honestly about anything to your partner in fear of being scrutinized or not feeling supported, then your relationship can easily deteriorate into one that is empty and lonely.
3. You Feel Disconnected
Does your partner make the time to connect with you on a regular basis? Or do you feel like “you’re out of sight, out of mind” once they’re out with their friends or out on a business trip? Disconnection happens when one or both partners lack the motivation to consistently invest their time, energy, and feelings into a relationship. Sure, relationships have their ups and downs but what makes a relationship a healthy and committed is one in which both parties are actively involved with the evolution of the relationship. For example, when there’s a problem, they want to fix it. They miss seeing you. They make time to see you, and their actions align with their words. When disconnection becomes more apparent, it’s usually a sign that the relationship is long past its expiration date.
4. There’s Co-Dependency Involved
According to Psych Central, a co-dependent relationship is “characterized by a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs.” It can also describe relationships “that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.” This is Carrie and Big in a nutshell. Do you make sacrifices for your partner without receiving anything in return? Do you constantly make excuses for their disrespect or apathy? Is your mood dependent on how your partner is feeling about you? Are you the constant “care taker” of the relationship? If so, then it’s time to go independent…from this relationship.
5. There’s a Disagreement Over Major Values
You want to get married, but your partner has explicitly said they do not. They want children, but you don’t. You want to save money for a home but they want to put that money towards a vacation. They’re deeply religious and you’re not. You like to keep physically active, and they like to couch surf. You get the drift. These are all examples of core values, and while we like to think that love conquers all, or that maybe we, or they, will change their minds, the reality is that if you don’t see eye-to-eye on what matters most then chances are you never will. Or you (or they) might have to compromise on something that will ultimately cause resentment and be a source of ongoing discord. Your best bet is to cut the cord, and find someone who wants what you want out of life.