What’s an Unhealthy Relationship?
A relationship is unhealthy when it involves mean, disrespectful, controlling, or abusive behavior. Some people live in homes with parents who fight a lot or abuse each other — emotionally, verbally, or physically. For some people who have grown up around this kind of behavior it can almost seem normal or OK. It’s not! Many of us learn from watching and imitating the people close to us. So someone who has lived around violent or disrespectful behavior may not have learned how to treat others with kindness and respect or how to expect the same treatment.
Qualities like kindness and respect are absolute requirements for a healthy relationship. Someone who doesn’t yet have this part down may need to work on it with a trained therapist before he or she is ready for a relationship. Meanwhile, even though you might feel bad or feel for someone who’s been mistreated, you need to take care of yourself — it’s not healthy to stay in a relationship that involves abusive behavior of any kind.
When a boyfriend or girlfriend uses verbal insults, mean language, nasty putdowns, gets physical by hitting or slapping, or forces someone into sexual activity, it’s an important warning sign of verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.
Ask yourself, does my boyfriend or girlfriend:
- get angry when I don’t drop everything for him or her?
- criticize the way I look or dress, and say I’ll never be able to find anyone else who would date me?
- keep me from seeing friends or from talking to any other guys or girls?
- want me to quit an activity, even though I love it?
- ever raise a hand when angry, like he or she is about to hit me?
- try to force me to go further sexually than I want to?
These aren’t the only questions you can ask yourself. If you can think of any way in which your boyfriend or girlfriend is trying to control you, make you feel bad about yourself, isolate you from the rest of your world, or — this is a big one — harm you physically or sexually, then it’s time to get out, fast. Let a trusted friend or family member know what’s going on and make sure you’re safe.
It can be tempting to make excuses or misinterpret violence, possessiveness, or anger as an expression of love. But even if you know that the person hurting you loves you, it is not healthy. No one deserves to be hit, shoved, or forced into anything he or she doesn’t want to do.