As a recovery coach I guide a lot of people in the “realm” of healthy relationships. Many ask — is this a healthy relationship? Some clients have not been in a relationship for several years, and are attempting to dip their toes into dating. Others might have just left a relationship, and are trying to figure out whether to stay away from a former lover. Even more of my clients who are in relationships can’t figure out if the relationship is healthy or not.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships
My coaching clients know the “type” of person they want, but realize they keep picking the same unhealthy man or woman, just in a different body. They return time and time again to these relationships because they seem comfortable, reminding them of their family, or first marriage etc. When this happens I urge my clients to actively try to change the relationship selections they make. It is often very difficult for someone to see if the relationship they are in is healthy or unhealthy. I often review the qualities of a healthy and an unhealthy relationship with them. Do these attributes describe your relationship?
- Healthy-Equality — Partners share decisions and responsibilities. They discuss roles to make sure they are fair and equal.
- Unhealthy-Control — One partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, or tells the other person what to wear or who to spend time with.
- Healthy-Honesty — Partners share their dreams, fears, concerns with each other. They tell each other how they feel and share important information.
- Unhealthy-Dishonesty — One partner lies to or keeps information from the other. One partner keeps secrets or withholds information from the other.
- Healthy-Physical Safety — Partners feel physically safe in the relationship and respect each other’s physical space.
- Unhealthy-Physical Abuse — One partner uses force to get his/her way (grabbing, hitting, slapping, shoving).
- Healthy-Respect — Partners treat each other like they want to be treated and accept each other’s opinions, friends, and interests. Partners in a healthy relationship stop what they are doing, look their partner in the eye and listen to each other.
- Unhealthy-Disrespect — One partner makes fun of the opinions and interests of the other partner. He or she may not show any care for your property or throw out your personal possessions.
Is This a Healthy Relationship? — 20 Question Assessment
I suggest answering these questions to figure out if you are in a healthy relationship?
- Has your partner shared their hopes and dreams for the future, such as where s/he wants to live 5 years from now? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Do you and your partner discuss what to do regarding a holiday weekend’s activities? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Do you flinch when your partner makes a sudden action with his/her arms?
Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Do you go to your bedroom in order to avoid interaction with your partner?
Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Do your feelings matter to your partner? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Would you call your partner’s humor cynical, cutting or belittling? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- When you suggest something to be completed in the manner you would like, are your suggestions ignored? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Do you feel like you have to hide things (gifts, clothes, make-up) from your partner? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does your partner compliment you in front of others? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Can you mention something you like or admire about your partner? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Is your partner glad you have other friends and activities? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Is your partner happy about your accomplishments and ambitions? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does s/he talk about her/his feelings? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does s/he really listen to you? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does your partner have a good relationship with his/her family? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does s/he have good friends? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Do you and your partner spend time with these friends? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does s/he have interests besides you? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does s/he take responsibility for her/his actions and not blame others for his/her failures? Yes [ ] No [ ]
- Does your partner respect your right to make decision that affects your own life?
Yes [ ] No [ ]
If you have answered “NO” to more than 12 of these questions, I suggest you look into how to cultivate a healthier relationship, perhaps by seeking the advice of a counselor or therapist.