Healthy vs. Toxic Relationships

Thursday, August 17, 2023 @ 12:44 PM

Is your relationship considered a healthy or toxic one? It may be difficult to decipher between the two, dependent upon the dynamics of your family of origin and what you consider to be normal. For instance, one may believe that their relationship is healthy based on what was modeled to them during their childhood upbringing. The important question here is how you define a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy relationship. If it was a simple and/or obvious question to answer, then I believe that no one would allow themselves to remain in an unhealthy relationship. It is a complex distinction for others, especially for those who grew up witnessing domestic violence between their parents.

In my experience working with couples, it has become evident that in a marital dynamic, one spouse may view an unhealthy relationship differently from their spouse. This means that one partner may normalize and minimize any issues that cause distress because of their own childhood experiences. It is likely that the other partner may become easily frustrated with their marriage and would rather dissolve their relationship. Therefore, when a couple is at odds, it is vitally important to reach out to a professional to gain a greater understanding of the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

Below are bullet points emphasizing characteristics of each type of relationship

Healthy Relationships
• Honesty and transparency
• Exchange of kind and loving words
• Respect and appreciation
• Compromise without giving up either partner’s core needs
• Expressing vulnerability without blaming the other partner
• Accepting responsibility of your own behaviors and apologizing

Unhealthy Relationships
• Criticizing
• Contemptuous comments or behaviors
• Tearing down your partner with negative comments (publicly or privately)
• Name calling
• Physical violence
• Addictions
• Always holding a “righteous” stance
• Blaming

Which characteristics do you identify that is occurring in your relationship? If you circled more than one under the Unhealthy Relationships category, it may be helpful to reach out to a professional to shift towards healthier patterns.