Some say "love is blind" but it doesn't have to be! Being in a committed relationship can be a wonderful thing but it's important to combine "that lovin' feeling'" with a good dose of wisdom. So, how do you know if the relationship you are in is all it should be? Perhaps you've been feeling some doubts lately, or you have friends urging you to break it off. Sometimes it can be difficult to step back and take a critical look at a person, and a relationship, you feel so strongly about but evaluating a relationship requires you use your head as well as your heart.
So, what are some warning signs you should look for? Although no one is perfect, if you are experiencing some of the following dynamics with your partner, you may be in an unhealthy relationship.
- They come on strong and quickly become jealous. Beware someone who loves you instantly and insists on being with you at all times. Pressing for an early commitment and wanting to know where you are all the time are signs of control issues. Don’t be fooled by the myth that possessiveness and jealously is romantic and a sign of love.
- They want you to conform to them. They criticize your ideas, belittle your feelings, and make you afraid to disagree.
- They attempt to isolate you from friends, activities and interests. They need to be involved and managing everything that you do. You have to justify what you do, where you go, and who you see. They attempt to slowly gain control over all aspects of your life.
- Their behavior is erratic, unpredictable, and mysterious. Unpredictable mood swings or behaviors. Dropping out of sight for periods of time, being frequently unavailable, being less than forthcoming about ways to contact them. These can be a sign of issues that interfere with forming lasting relationships or of someone with a hidden life such as addictions or another relationship.
- Their life doesn’t “jell." A pattern of forgotten commitments, poor follow through, and missed deadlines can be signs of someone who will continue through life without ever “getting it together.”
- They confuse you. There is an inconsistency between what they say and what they do. Perhaps you are being told what they think you want to hear or are trying to impress you.
- They are self centered. If they are only thinking of themselves, they will ignore your thoughts and feelings. They will make all the decisions. They will answer for you instead of letting you decide. If you get cut off in the middle of a sentence, they obviously weren’t really listening. Take it as a warning, you don’t matter to them.
- They behave badly with others. Even if their behavior towards you is fine, if they treat others with dishonesty, disrespect or manipulation, likely your turn is coming.
- They don’t take responsibility for their own actions. When ever things go wrong, it is because “they are idiots,” “the rules are stupid,” or “the professor was out to get me.” If they can’t see how their own behavior contributed to the problem, eventually they will blame you for what is wrong.
- Their temper scares you. Angry, jealous or controlling behavior will likely get more frightening or violent over time.
- They pressure or force you to be more physically intimate than you are comfortable. Forced sexual contact is sexual assault and is illegal.
- They give you a feeling that something is wrong. If you sense you are in an unhealthy relationship you need to listen carefully to your inner voice, because that is an important clue that things may not be what they ought to be.
Deciding whether a relationship is healthy or unhealthy is rarely cut and dried and getting free of an unhealthy relationship can also be tricky. Having support and a place to talk through decisions can help. The counselors at the Engle Center welcome the opportunity to talk with students about relationship concerns. Feel free to come in and speak with us!