My 30s was the decade of unhealthy relationships. These relationships dimmed my light and made me unconscious to the reality of what love was.
While I should have known better, it was still hard for me to walk
away. I've seen this time and time again with women who contact me about
their relationship dilemmas and with clients I've coached. If it were
easy, more women would leave sooner instead of spending so much time
with the wrong guys and in the wrong relationships.
Are You In An Unhealthy Relationship?
It's easier to spot if someone else's relationship is healthy or not
since you're not involved. When it comes to your own relationship, it
can be trickier to know because the signs are subtle and can leave you feeling uncertain and second- guessing yourself.
If you answer "yes" to any of the scenarios below, chances are your relationship is unhealthy.
- My partner is mentally, physically or emotionally abusive to me.
- I am constantly defending or rationalizing my partner's behaviors to my friends, family and myself.
- If my best friend was in the kind of relationship I'm in, I would tell her to leave.
- I keep hoping my partner will change for the better.
- I am only with him because we have kids together.
- I don't look forward to seeing or talking to him.
- I am unhappier when I'm with him and at the thought of him.
- I am suspicious of my partner and am afraid to confront him.
- I feel drained after spending time with him.
- I don't feel good about myself when I'm with him.
- Things don't feel quite right with us.
- I don't feel supported.
- We only connect on a superficial level (e.g. sexual chemistry).
- I can't talk to my partner openly.
- I feel like I can't completely be myself. I act and behave in a certain way so that my partner will like or love me more.
Note: These scenarios go both ways. For instance, if your partner
doesn't feel supported in the relationship, your relationship is
I know how hard it is to walk away from a guy and relationship that is
not healthy for you. Yet when you keep focused on the reality of your
situation instead of how you want things to be, you will see things more
clearly. Continuing to stay in an unhealthy relationship does not make
it easier to walk away. When I left my unhealthy relationships, my love
life shifted for the better.
Have The Courage To Walk Towards Something Better
Having the love you want and deserve takes courage. If you've been
thinking about leaving and are having a hard time doing so, you may be
focusing on what you don't want (i.e. that you don't want to start over
again). When you focus on what you don't want, you will ignore what's
wrong with your situation, keep getting more of the same or not change
Instead, think of it not as leaving, but as walking toward a healthier
relationship with someone else. This could mean freeing yourself to
start meeting men who are at a good place in their lives.
If you're at the point where you are ready to move forward, these 10
steps will move you towards a healthier relationship. If you're not
quite ready, take some time to heal yourself and then practice these 10 steps.
10 Steps For Moving Towards A Healthier Relationship
- Be kind and gentle to yourself. When things aren't
working out the way you'd like, it's easy to judge yourself. Instead, be
kind and gentle. Know that every relationship — healthy and unhealthy —
serves a purpose. Each relationship is there for you to learn and grow
from. The most important thing is how you respond to what happens to
- Don't take things personally. Whatever your partner
did or didn't want to do, or however he treated you is based on his
level of integrity (i.e. who he is and where he is in his life). You
just happen to be the person who showed up at this time. Understanding
this will better help you to not take things personally.
- Reflect on your role in this and past relationships.
Reflect on the same issues and challenges that continue to come up in
this and past relationships. Consider how you contributed to these
issues and challenges. For instance, did you stir up troubling
situations or escalate things by over-reacting? What unhealthy qualities
and traits do the guys you've been with share? Why do you suppose you
attracted these type of guys into your life? What lessons are you meant
to learn from being with them? How can you feel like you deserve to be
with a healthier man moving forward?
- Prepare yourself by doing the inner work. After you
have figured out how you contributed to the issues and challenges in
your relationships, do the inner work to improve yourself in those
areas. For instance, if your tendency has been to avoid confrontation
whenever sticky situations came up, you will want to work on being able
to express yourself in the moment. Your greatest growth opportunities
happen in situations where you feel especially challenged.
- Get clear on what you want. Determine the top five to
seven things that are most important for you to have in your ideal
partner and relationship. Let's say you want a partner who is loyal,
trustworthy, affectionate, a good communicator, intelligent and active.
And let's say you want to be in a relationship that is meaningful, flows
with ease, is honest, supportive and respectful. Being clear on what
you want makes it easier to stay on track instead of getting sidetracked by the wrong men and relationships.
- Practice being what you want. We attract who we are
and who we are being — not what we want. For the qualities you
identified in #5, practice being those very qualities with yourself and
in your relationships with friends, family and co-workers. The more you
embody these qualities, the more you will attract a partner and
relationship with these qualities.
- Focus on what you want. If you tend to think about
what you don't want, the things you don't want will keep showing up.
Instead, keep your focus on the top five to seven things that are most
important for you to have in your ideal partner and relationship.
- Choose in favor of what you want. Short-term
decisions and choices have longer consequences. Whenever you have a
choice or decision, make sure you move towards what you want. Ask
yourself, "am I making a choice that will move me closer to what I
want?" Your answer will indicate what you should do.
- Trust in the process and outcome. It's human nature
to want to feel in control of things, including love. When you find
yourself trying to control, you will feel stressed, worried, concerned
and unable to relax. When you are clear and focused on what you want,
choosing in favor of those things and trusting in the process and
outcome becomes easier. If you can truly understand that everything is
happening for your greater good, you will be able to relax more easily
and trust in what is meant to be.
- Get comfortable with the unknown. Get comfortable
with the unknown by expanding your comfort zone. The reason this is
important is that you will be changing yourself in positive ways,
meeting men who are different and being treated in ways that you are not
used to. All of these scenarios represent change. Even positive change
that is outside of your comfort zone will feel uncomfortable. The more
you expand your comfort zone, the more you will journey to love with
ease and enjoyment.
True and Lasting Love Comes Only From A Healthy Relationship
Having true and lasting love takes courage to make changes from within,
focus to stay the course and the strength to say "no" to guys and
things that aren't good for you. It means letting go of baggage that no longer serves you
and being open to good men you normally wouldn't be interested in. I
encourage you to practice these 10 steps to a healthier relationship. Be
courageous, let go of baggage, be open to good men, and you will find
true and lasting love.
If you have realized you are now in an unhealthy relationship, what
will you start doing to detach yourself from this relationship? Please
share your comments below.