photo by Kelly Sikemma for Unsplash
by Andrea M. Darcy
So you have relationship doubts. But you tell yourself not to make a big deal out of nothing. Your relationship is okay. Or is it? Here are the signs of an unhealthy relationship, from typical to less discussed.
Typical Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Infatuation hijacks our logical brain, so it’s always good to remind ourselves of the basics when it comes to unhealthy relationships. Common signs you are infatuation’s throes or are suffering ‘limerence‘ are when you:
- have given up your usual interests and hobbies
- spend all your time thinking about the other person and check your phone obsessively
- are not spending time with your close friends (or are even avoiding them)
- hide things about the relationship from your friends and/or family
- allow your social life/ career/or health to suffer because of the relationship.
Relationships that lead us to lose ourselves and change our identity are often codependent.
If the relationship is taking over your mind and you are losing control over your emotions and reactions, then you might have love addiction.
If you are struggling with strong feelings of shame, anxiety, and fear? There is a good chance you are in a controlling and abusive relationship. It doesn’t have to be physical or sexual abuse. Verbal abuse is serious, as is economic abuse. If any of them sound like you, find support or call a free help line.
9 More Surprising Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
photo by JD Mason for Unsplash
Not all signs of an unhealthy relationship are as obvious as the above. Here are a few that might surprise you.
1. You feel like a different person around your partner.
Have you felt right from the start that you are someone totally different around them? And you feel increasingly irritated when you have to go back to being the ‘other you’?
Yes, it’s great to find someone who helps us be our best self. But if it’s a healthy relationship, you’ll feel your best self over time, through shared experience and challenges.
Having a sudden different persona around a partner can be codependency, but it might also be that the other person is in fact manipulating you.
Making you feel ‘special’ is a way to lure you away from your old self so he or she can take control over you.
2. You are on a cycle of highs and lows.
This is one of the more common signs of an unhealthy relationship. Do you feel rushes of energy when they call or text, or when you meet them? When you part do you feel desolate, a bit bored, even like your skin is itchy? Have you ever gone home from being with them and felt suddenly sick and crawled into bed for a ‘nap’? These are signs you are in an addictive relationship.
3. You are having sex you don’t quite want to have.
Yes, long marriages or partnerships can see us occasionally having sex to please our partner even if we are tired.
But if your partner is pushing you to do sexual acts you are not comfortable with, if you are in any way being hurt without permission during sex? Or if you are not being asked for your approval or opinion around sex, but feel that you are obligated to do as he/she wants? This is not healthy and might even be abusive.
4. You are under or overeating since the relationship started.
Overeating is often a sign we are stuffing down our emotions instead of facing them head on. What might you be trying not to think about or feel? Journalling can help.
Practice emotional eating when single, but when ‘in love’ tend to lose interest in food? Love addiction means that when we get our high off another person we drop our other ‘drugs’.
5. Your are a very, very helpful person these days.
photo by ha Nguy for Unsplash
Yes, helping a loved one is normal. But try this. Set a timer to go off once an hour. And when it goes off, be honest. What you were thinking about? Is it your partner and his/her problems and how you can ‘fix’ them?
Constantly troubleshooting your partner’s problems to the point you no longer even think about yourself is a sign of major codependency or people addiction.
6. Your confidence is not what is was.
You didn’t apply for the job promotion because you just don’t want it anymore. And that joke you made about how you talk too much, or the one about how you really need to change your outdated wardrobe? They were just casual observations.
Or were they? Would you have made such remarks before the relationship? And let that job slip?
Is there any way your partners ‘teasing’ or ‘constructive criticism’ is actually verbal abuse in disguise? And the effects on your confidence are starting to show?
7. You are suffering from anxiety lately.
Anxiety is not always a sign that the relationship itself is unhealthy. It might be that you have anxious attachment disorder, where your childhood has led to any adult relationship causing you stress.
But if you read about anxious attachment and it doesn’t sound like you, consider if your anxiety might be a sign that you are not comfortable in the relationship.
8. Your sleep has gone out the window since the relationship started.
Yes, infatuation can lead to some sleepless nights. But if your sleep patterns continue to suffer, or even get worse? Take notice.
Some of us are very good at pretending life is great in the daytime. Our worries and anxieties surface at night, or wake us up from anxious dreams.
We can be experts at denial. But the one thing that tends to not comply is our very bodies.
Research can no longer deny the connection between mental and physical health. For example, a study on intimate partner violence points out the connection to “chronic pain syndromes, headaches, gastrointestinal problems”.
If you find that you are constantly exhausted and sick lately, seeming to catch every cold and flu around? It might be time to look at signs of emotional abuse, verbal abuse, or control in your relationship.
Recognise these signs of an unhealthy relationship in yourself, and need help? We connect you with top London counsellors and psychotherapists. Not in London? Use our booking site to find UK-wide registered therapists or book an online therapist who can help you wherever you are in the world.
Still have a question about signs of an unhealthy relationship? Ask in the public comment box below.
Andrea M. Darcy is a well-known mental health writer. With training in both coaching and person-centred counselling, she particularly likes writing about relationships and trauma. Find her on Instagram @am_darcy