What’s A Healthy Relationship Anyway. For a relationship to be healthy, both people must be willing and able to both say no and hear no. Without that negation, without that occasional rejection, boundaries break down and one person’s problems and values come to dominate the other’s. Conflict is not only normal, then, it’s absolutely necessary for the maintenance of a healthy relationship. If two people who are close are not able to hash out their differences openly and vocally, then the relationship is based on manipulation and misrepresentation, and it will slowly disintegrate.
Trust is the most important ingredient in any relationship. Without it the relationship means nothing. A person could tell you that she loves you and would do everything for you, but if you don’t trust her, you get no benefit from that love as you don’t feel loved until you trust that the love being expressed toward you comes without any special conditions attached to it.
Healthy relationships experience conflict. Without it, there can be no trust. Conflict exists to show us who is there for us unconditionally and who is just there for the benefits. Healthy love is base on two people acknowledging and addressing their own problems with each other’s support. Unhealthy love is based on two people trying to escape their problems through their emotions for each other, using each other as an escape.
The difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship is 1) how well each person in the relationship accepts responsibility and 2) the willingness of each person to both reject and be rejected by their partner.
Healthy and loving relationships have clear boundaries between the two people and their values, and there will be an open avenue of giving and receiving rejection when necessary. Unhealthy or toxic relationships will have a poor sense of responsibility on both sides, and there will be an inability to give and/or receive rejection.
Boundaries mean the delineation between two people’s responsibilities for their own problems. In healthy relationships, people with strong boundaries take responsibility for their own values and problems. People in unhealthy relationships with poor or no boundaries will regularly avoid responsibility for their own problems and/or take responsibility for their partner’s problems.
Examples of Poor Boundaries:
- You can’t go out with your friends without me. I’m the jealous type so that would upset me.
- I’d love to take that job in Los Angeles, but my mother would never forgive me for moving so far away.
- I can date you, but let’s not tell our parents just yet. They don’t know you’re from out of town
- I have to ask my husband if I can go to that workshop with you.
In each example, the person is either taking responsibility for the problem/emotion that are not theirs or demanding someone else take responsibility for their problem/emotion. When you have unclear areas of responsibility for your emotions or actions – areas where it is unclear who is responsible for what, you never develop strong values for yourself. Your only value becomes making your partner happy or your partner making you happy. Either way is self-defeating.
The mark of an unhealthy relationship is two people who try to solve each other’s problems in order to feel good about themselves. A healthy relationship is when two people solve their own problems in order to feel good about each other. Setting proper boundaries help and support your partner because you choose to not because you feel obligated to.
Call me at (858) 735-1139 if you need help developing a more healthy relationship.