Relations are an inseparable part of a human life – they enrich our life, fill it with joy, help us to grow and know ourselves better. Human relations are never perfect, but it is very important to recognise when the relations might cause you too much stress or even become harmful.
What are healthy relations like?
In healthy relations both partners:
- Respect one another and express that in words and behaviour
- Trust one another and do not control each other’s actions
- Discuss openly
- Support one another and embrace each other’s achievements
- Do not criticize one another in public or in private
- Let one another spend time with family and friends
- Devote time to be together and use it to strengthen their relationship
- Are not afraid to express feelings and ideas
- Listen to one another and seek consensus
- Do not force one another to change or do what the partner does not want to do
- Understand and respect each other’s needs
If one wants to establish healthy relations, it is necessary to put effort as healthy relations are a result of the consistent work by both partners. In such relations it is also very important that both partners could openly express what they do not like and draw the limits beyond which they cannot compromise, for example, personal space. In healthy relations, both partners should feel free to express or show when these limits are crossed and to ask the partner not to do this again.
How should you feel in healthy relations?
Healthy relations should provide more joy than stress. In all relations the moments of stress could occur but the relations should not cause long-term, never ending stress.
When you are in healthy relations, you:
- Take care of yourself and trust yourself irrespective of your relations
- Respect each other’s uniqueness
- Keep in touch with friends and family
- Have hobbies beyond your relations
- May express yourself without fearing for consequences
- Feel safe and comfortable
- Allow for and encourage partner relations with other people
- Are interested in one another’s activities and interests
- Trust one another and may be open
- Have a private space
- Respect sexual limits and openly talk about your sexual relations
- Take into consideration your partner’s needs, for example, in changing some unacceptable habits in shaping joint relation rituals, etc.
How should one see that the relations are not healthy?
Difficulties might occur in all relations but in unhealthy relations, they are more prevalent and they would cause you constant anxiety and pressure which will be difficult to avoid. This stress is unhealthy to both partners and may manifest itself in problems in other areas of life.
- Relations satisfy the needs of only one partner
- You feel pressure to change your personality
- You feel worried if you do not agree with the partner
- You feel pressure to abandon the activities that you like
- You pressure your partner to agree with you or to change
- Notice that one of you have to constantly excuse yourself for your actions (where you go, whom you meet)
- One of the partners feel forced to have sex
- Lack of privacy, feel forced to share everything with your partner
- One of you refuses to use protection during sex
- The conflicts are dealt with in a dishonest way
- There are attempts to control or manipulate one another
- Your partner tries to control how you dress and behave
- You do not spend time together
- You do not have common friends or do not respect each other’s friends and family
- You notice unfair resource control (food, money, house, car, etc.)
- Feel the lack of honesty and equality
If your relations are marked by a few of these features, this does not necessarily mean that you should end it. By realising how the negative aspects impact you, one may look for ways to solve the problems by approaching the specialists – psychologists and psychotherapists.
Some relations might not only be harmful but also dangerous to you. These are the relations where violence and control become the model one of your partner’s behaviour with you.
What is violent behaviour?
Relations based on coercion that aim at making one partner dominate over the other is violent behaviour. It is easier to recognise physical and sexual violence but it may be difficult to identify another type of coercion.
The Power and Control Wheel best reflects this type of behaviour. If you recognise these behavioural models in your partner, there is high likelihood that you are in abusive relations.
At first, maybe only some features that worry you manifest themselves, however, in the long run the violent episodes and control strengthen and become more prevalent until the relations almost do not remind of healthy ones.
Violent behaviour is usually cyclical – the growth of tension, outburst of violence, making up and the “honeymoon” period. The stage of the relations is identified by the behaviour of the perpetrator and the victim.