I know growing up, I was hardly given any relationship or life advice, whatsoever. The Internet was also not as popular as it is now, and I hardly ever stumbled across advice articles that spoke about the meaning of love. I also did not have any older siblings or relatives that gave me any guidance in this department. It was me just jumping into a big body of water, not knowing how to swim, hoping I’d figure it out along the way and not drown in the process. I think everyone drowns at one point in their lives though, metaphorically speaking.
I am thankful for the few friends that did give me advice here and there throughout the years. But most of it, I had to learn the hard way. I feel like that’s how it usually is with most people. It helps build character and just makes you a stronger person in the end. Regarding relationships, I’ve unfortunately had my fair share of guys that weren’t so great for me throughout the years, and relationships that just never really felt entirely right for me. I also greatly struggled with the issue of not knowing when to walk away when I should have.
I’ve also been through more lows rather than highs with the men in my life, and my last major relationship was also very unhealthy for me, so it took me just recently to finally realize what a normal, healthy relationship should really feel and be like. Here is a list I composed in distinguishing the good from the bad.
Off the top of my head I just started compiling a list of the main attributes that make up a negative relationship and what makes up a positive relationship, based off my experiences. I know there’s other aspects one can add, but this is what stands out the most to me personally.
Being in a serious relationship isn’t about leaning on someone 24/7, hoping they will “fix you,” or solve all your problems. It is about being in a good mental state with yourself, finally sharing a life with someone else, adventuring together, and lifting each other up along the way. It’s great to have a support system and lean on someone every now and then, as long as you can find a balance and respect one another as individual people. So what should a healthy, “normal,” relationship feel like? Let’s break it down.
1. The right relationships should uplift you, never bring you down
Good relationships should make you feel really amazing and extremely happy about life and yourself. They should uplift the soul, rather than emotionally harm it. Being in a good relationship is about having patience and understanding for one another, and encouraging each other along the way. Being in relationships that aren’t right for you will definitely dull your sparkle, there’s no doubt about that, unless you finally learn to walk away and seek out something better. Now that I’m in a much healthier relationship, I’ve been feeling so much love and joy. There is so much positivity, it’s amazing. There is constant happiness and mutual respect and appreciation for one another. Lately, people have also actually told me that it looks like I’m “glowing,” or “I’ve never seen you smile like that in photos before,” and in past relationships, no one has ever said that to me once. It’s because I felt unhappy and brought down by past relationships, and usually, the other person’s heart just wasn’t always in it.
2. There needs to be complete honesty and trust
Communication is also key in any relationship. This is extremely important in forging a stronger bond with someone. It’s about being genuinely honest and open, communicating your wants and needs without shutting each other down, or feeling bad for saying the right or wrong thing. No matter how painful or embarrassed you may feel, keeping things in is usually never a good idea. If you’re with the right person, they will listen to you with an open mind. Being able to open up to someone and tell them about your fears and dreams, or whatever is bugging you throughout the day, should never feel like a negative or scary experience. And if you are with someone that is constantly dishonest with you, or doesn’t really like opening up, then this is a red flag. Be with someone who is constantly communicating with you back and forth and has absolutely nothing to hide!
Dishonesty is probably one of the BIGGEST problems I had with my last relationship. My ex was always hot and cold/moody with his feelings towards me, and rather than calmly talk things out when something was bothering him (which seemed to be almost all the time), he would put me down and then it would escalate and I would get hysterical, and we would just argue back and forth. It was a total disaster. He also had a very hard time listening to me, and this is why I eventually became discouraged at speaking up for myself. This lack of communication always left me feeling worse than I already was. I always felt like I couldn’t be my complete self or say all the things I wanted to say to him. When we actually did manage to have rare, calm conversations, I still felt myself feeling upset and just never good enough for him.
3. Learn to admit your faults and act maturely towards one another’s ideas/feelings
Maturity also plays a major role in maintaining a stable relationship. If you or you partner can’t admit your faults with grace, or admit when you’re wrong and apologize, for example, then you will constantly be left feeling remorseful towards one another. A healthy relationship should not constantly consist of arguing. As adults, two people should be able to talk things out and come to a compromise or solution. You don’t always have to agree on everything of course, but there should always be a sense of respect for one another. Being with someone who hardly ever admits when they are wrong or hardly ever apologizes to you, is no fun at all, especially when they act petty about the little things. You or your partner should never act like you are above one another.
4. Support one another, never criticize
I feel like this is a really major thing to remember because it really does make a big difference in maintaining a healthy relationship. It can make it or break it. It’s amazing how much support and compassion I receive in my current relationship. Be with someone who emotionally supports you, and believes in you and your goals. Imagine being in a relationship where you are constantly put down and criticized by almost every little thing you do or say: “Your stomach isn’t flat enough,” “It’s annoying how you always ask questions,” “Don’t make that face, learn how to model better,” are just examples of the things my ex used to actually say to me. My ex seemed to always find some fault or annoyance in half the things I did. I eventually came to realize he had major issues and was a very negative person whose happiness was always short-lived. I always thought that I was never good enough, but just remember that you aren’t the problem. They are.
5. What should you do if a partner cheats on you?
I feel like this has always been a somewhat touchy subject. If someone cheats on you, do you walk away? Do you forgive them and give them a second chance? As soon as a partner cheats, or some negative action leads to distrust, I feel that it’s very hard to feel at ease throughout the remainder of the relationship. When my ex cheated on me, it caused a lot of stress and even after I thought we worked things out, I never really trusted him again after that, especially when he remained friends with the girl he cheated on me with, no matter how many times I told him it deeply bothered me. He never cared one bit how it made me feel, even though I constantly expressed how horrible and uncomfortable it felt to me. I only put up with is for so long because I wanted to be open to the idea, and I wanted him to be happy.
If you are ever cheated on and want to try to forgive this person, good for you, but if they continue to keep around the person they cheated on you with as a “friend,” without taking your feelings into consideration, whatsoever…run while you can. Years later and I still feel like a COMPLETE idiot/moron. My fault is that I always wanted to see the best in people, and our relationship did eventually get a little better, but their continual friendship would continue to eat away at my heart for the remainder of our relationship. If your partner seems to disregard your feelings and there isn’t much respect towards you, chances are they don’t really love you in the first place.
6. Healthy relationships consist of a healthy mindset
This leads me to my next point. Constantly feeling stressed out in your relationship is also a bad sign. Relationships should not make you feel uncomfortable and insecure in any way. And most importantly, if you are dating someone that has anger issues/mood swings and it gets to the point where they not only emotionally abuse you, but cause you physical danger at some instances, this is not okay! While arguing about godknowswhat, while in the car driving, my ex would start to drive like a maniac and put not only his, but my life in danger. Guess what? This is technically considered abuse. I constantly tried to be as understanding as possible because I know there were other problems going on in my ex’s life and I remained there for him, but after a while, I just felt so brought down as a person, and could no longer deal with all the negativity anymore.
I also dated a guy that suffered from depression. While he was a lot more calm of a person than my last boyfriend, he couldn’t feel happy enough with himself and with his life to keep our relationship going. Our relationship caused him too much stress, and he had to step away to focus on himself. This is why I often say, that if you are not at a happy place in your life, or you have emotional issues, then perhaps a serious relationship isn’t right for you, which is why I now understand more than ever why my last relationship would always consist of so many highs and lows. As soon as you find out your partner may suffer from psychological or emotional issues, be wary, and know your relationship won’t always be easy.
7. If you’re going to be with someone, love them with all your heart and hold nothing back
When I am in love with a person, I have to put my whole heart and soul into it. At times, this has scared certain people away, because most people are afraid to give so much of themselves to someone, or they are really just not feeling the relationship as a whole. I think most people are afraid of losing themselves in another, so they hold back and can’t be completely open with someone. I’ve never felt so amazed and happy loving someone like I do in my current relationship. To finally be with someone who loves me back just as much as I do them and is never afraid to show it, always makes my heart happy. If someone doesn’t really “wow,” you right away in your relationship, or you are constantly feeling mixed emotions, throughout it, and there is not a lot of passion going on, then perhaps it is time to move on. The longer you wait, hoping for a change or new spark that will truly never come, the worse it can get. Being with someone who is hot and cold with their feelings towards you can get mentally exhausting and confusing.
Remember, this is just a guide and I do not claim to be an expert. I’m sure there are many people out there that already know all this, but there will always be other people out there that truly do not know what a healthy relationship is about until they learn the hard way, getting caught up and stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship, falsely thinking that is what real love is just like I did.
Thank you so much for reading!