US-based psychologist Logan Hutchins shares helps you deal with the dilemma of being in an unhappy relationship.
It is hard to let go of someone you have been in a relationship with. You may begin to question yourself, and if a total upheaval of your life is worth it to get out of your commitment. Breakups are never fun, but your relationship isn’t worth it if you are miserable. This begs a question: What do to if you’re not happy in your relationship?
If you feel lonely when you are with your partner that is a good sign to do some further investigation into what the relationship is doing for you. Bentley University has a great quiz for assessing the quality of your relationship.
You may not be miserable. Perhaps you are relatively happy, though still unsure if you should stay or go. If you grew up in a broken home-regardless of if your parents divorced or “stayed together for the kids”- you are more susceptible to entering toxic relationships. Something I had to learn the hard way early on in life.
This article will help you determine if your relationship is healthy for you. Below we will examine some of the latest psychological research on relationships. After reading this article, you will be able to weigh your situation and take action towards a happier life, with or without your current partner.
Listening to Other People’s Opinions on Your Love Life
Unhealthy relationships take on many forms. Sometimes a toxic relationship appears to be working fine to outsiders, and the opposite can be true for healthy relationships. While your friends and family may encourage you to stay in or get out of a relationship, it is ultimately up to you to decide.
My family loved some of the worst girls I dated and hated some of the best girls. Your family isn’t always right about who is best for you. However, you should pay attention to when those close to you make a comment about your relationship.
Try to be unbiased when listening to their comments. They may have a valid point, or they may be jealous or insecure. When it comes to parents, it can be hard to tell the difference between their feelings and your own.
Some signs of an unhealthy relationship are codependency, inappropriate comments, encouraging bad behaviors, and a need for control. You can also read Unhealthy Relationship Symptoms for a closer look. Psychologist and counselor Zainab Farrukh goes through 6 signs and symptoms of unhealthy relationships.
4 Symptoms of an Unhealthy Relationship
Codependency is when someone relies on their significant other in an unhealthy way. Typically, the person they are dependent on exploits them for their own gain. Men and women can be in codependent relationships.
If you are giving more than you get, you may be in a codependent relationship. Psychologists believe codependency is often attributed to bad, or ineffective parenting. This leads the codependent person to seek out exploitative people and ignore those that are nurturing.
Inappropriate comments can range from passive aggressive comments to direct insults. This especially applies when you or your partner makes casual remarks about breaking up. It may also take the form of demeaning the other person by insulting their character, attractiveness, or other traits.
This isn’t the same as addressing problem behaviors or thoughts you have noticed in your partner. For example, saying “Hey, I noticed you have gained some weight, is everything OK at work?” isn’t necessarily inappropriate (context matters of course).
However, if your partner says something like “If you don’t quit eating so much I’m going to leave you.” This is definitely an inappropriate and psychologically abusive remark. The main difference is the first remark shows concern, while the second is a controlling threat.
If your partner is encouraging bad behaviors such as smoking, illegal activities, or excessive drinking you are in an unhealthy relationship. Along with these overt behaviors, covert behaviors-such as mood and emotions are contagious.
If your partner is always in a bad mood, you will likely catch their attitude and become unhappy. You know how your parents warned you about peer pressure? Well, they were right about that!
One of the most common themes in unhealthy relationships is a need to be in control. That control may be over what you wear, how you spend your time and money, and what you can do or say. A controlling partner will try to isolate you from your friends and may gaslight you, leading to you questioning your own mental stability.
In a healthy relationship, both partners push each other to succeed. They support one another and encourage their partner to hang out with friends and participate in healthy activities. People in stable relationships share similar values, passions, and share a vision of their future.
Not sure if you match up with your partner? Well, as a general rule, you should have five positive experiences with your partner for every negative interaction. This known as the “golden ratio” and it has some empirical support.
When you are on the fence about staying in a relationship, you should record how you feel when you are around that person. There are many mood tracking apps you can use, or you can go old school and write in a journal. Think of this as your own psychology experiment, you need a baseline before you can make changes.
If the ratio isn’t too far off, you may want to stick it out. Work on creating positive interactions by doing something fun together.
Around 24% of women and 14% of men have been victims of domestic abuse. This statistic may be skewed since many women and men fear the repercussions of reporting spousal, or partner, abuse. If your partner physically assaults, you, please seek immediate help. The National Domestic Abuse Hotline (NDAM) is ready to help you all day, every day.
If you are not ready to report the abuse (I highly recommend you do), there are several online communities you can join to talk to others about their experiences. Reddit hosts two excellent resources, r/abusiverelationships and r/domesticviolence for those looking to get out of an abusive relationship, but aren’t sure how.
Both communities provide valuable advice, feedback, and confidence to sufferers of abuse. You don’t need to have been physically harmed to be a victim of abuse. Psychological manipulation can traumatize a person just as much, especially over a prolonged period.
Side Effects of Unhealthy Relationships
An unhealthy relationship can affect you psychologically, and surprisingly, physically. One study has shown that women in a poor quality relationship have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than those in healthy relationships. Another study demonstrated that men and women in unhealthy relationships are more susceptible to heart disease.
So, staying in a bad relationship can shorten your lifespan, and lead to undesirable mental and emotional side effects. If you feel less confident now than you did before your relationship, you need to ask yourself why that is, and how you can change that.
A good partner will boost your confidence and self-worth. They will not tear you down or make you feel useless. If the latter sounds like your partner, get out of that relationship as soon as possible. That kind of person can change, but you shouldn’t put your health or sanity on the line.
Conclusion: What to do if You’re not Happy in your Relationship
Hopefully, you can now make an informed decision about what to do if you’re not happy in your relationship. Leaving an unhealthy relationship can make you feel terrible. Many people are scared they won’t find another person, but that isn’t true.
There is someone out there that will treat you right. Taking a break from dating to heal will better prepare you for that person. Before entering another relationship look for signs of controlling behavior, inappropriate remarks, signs of codependency, and signs of unhealthy behaviors.
For more information, check out this free download: All tips and quizzes that you can use to practice being happier with your partner. (coming soon!)
Logan is an academic researcher and writer, with a heart of a scientist. He got his psychologist degree from George State University, where he also acts as an assistant researcher in the psychology laboratories. He's also a contributing author to Life of a Winner.