How to Cope With an Unhealthy Relationship
Approximately one million high school students, nationwide, experience some form of physical abuse from a romantic partner each year (Love is Respect, 2015).
Are you in an unhealthy relationship? If so, it may be time to learn new coping skills or re-evaluate your relationship. What is a healthy relationship? Well, it is a relationship that consists of love, trust, respect, good communication, and honesty. It is the opposite of an unhealthy relationship that consists of anger, violence, frustration, criticism, hostility, judgment, etc. An unhealthy relationship can quickly spiral into abuse, violence, or even death. The good news is that there are ways to cope with an unhealthy relationship. The key is to address the issues in your relationship. Do not allow them to fester, because over time they will destroy your relationship. Note: Never stay in an abusive relationship. If you feel that your life, your children’s lives, or your family’s life is in jeopardy – tell someone. Call the police and make a police report. And, if possible, file a restraining order against your abusive partner. At the very least, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233) for support. If you are not quite ready to take steps to end your unhealthy relationship, but are interested in learning more effective coping strategies, you have come to the right place. This article will teach you how to cope with an unhealthy relationship, when you aren’t ready to throw in the towel.
Get to the Root
If you want to effectively cope with an unhealthy relationship, you will first need to “get to the root of the dysfunction.” In other words, determine what caused your relationship to decline. Think about your relationship issues, have there been several instances, in which you or your partner started an unnecessary argument or “said” or “did” things simply out of spite? In addition, think back to your last big argument, what started it? What did you say? What did your partner say? It is important to note that you may be in an unhealthy relationship, if your way of dealing with feelings of neglect is to yell and belittle your partner. Why are you behaving in such a manner? Is it because of something that you partner “said” or “did” or is it because of your own insecurities and fears? Maladaptive coping strategies can contribute to an unhealthy relationship. If your insecurities are contributing to the dysfunction in your relationship, it may be time to seek assistance from a mental health professional (i.e. social worker, counselor, therapist, or psychologist).
One of the most effective ways to cope with an unhealthy relationship is to refrain from blaming your partner for something that is out of his or her control, or something that you “said” or “did.” Accept responsibility for your own actions. If you dismiss or ignore your part in arguments and disagreements - eventually your relationship will become unhealthy. If you are not the cause of the distress – keep calm and forgive the person, who hurt or betrayed you. Why? Well, when you harbor angry feelings, it hurts you more than the other person. Plus, these negative feelings can lead to an unhealthy relationship. It is important to “let go” of your anger because it will only cloud your judgment, and prevent you from thinking clearly. Be accountable, and give yourself and your partner time to heal from the emotional wounds. If you and your partner are on the “same page” and truly want to improve your relationship, then you will need to work together to resolve the issues that are affecting the “health” of your union.
Address the Issues
Address the issues? Yes, if you want to learn how to cope with an unhealthy relationship, you will need to address any relationship issues – as they arise. Do not “put off” addressing issues because you are afraid of your partner’s reaction. Note: If your partner is abusive and you are afraid of him or her – do not confront him or her alone, rather tell a close friend, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, or alert the authorities (police) for help. If you are afraid of your partner’s reaction, arrange to address the issues in a quiet, but public location. Also, ask a loved one or friend to accompany you to the meeting. Explain to your partner how you feel, and allow him or her to respond. If your partner becomes verbally or emotionally abusive – leave. Abuse, regardless of the form, should never be tolerated. You do not deserve to be treated in such an unkind manner. So, if you feel that your partner is indifferent towards you and/or your relationship, share your feelings with him or her. Be honest, and do not exaggerate situations or circumstances. Also, do not use accusatory statements like: “You make me feel horrible about myself.” Instead, take responsibility for your own feelings by using “I” statements like: “I feel horrible when I don’t live up to your expectations.” If your partner is as invested in the relationship as you are, he or she will work with you to address and resolve any issues.
Learn the Warning Signs
Lastly, one of the most important ways to cope with an unhealthy relationship is to learn the warning signs of abusive relationships and domestic violence. In other words, it is imperative that you know the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships. Are you in an unhealthy relationship that could, possibly, lead to abuse? If so, it may be time for you to seek help with a mental health professional. If you are in a relationship that causes you more joy than sorrow, you are probably in a healthy relationship. A healthy relationship should not consist of high levels of persistent stress. In fact, signs of a healthy relationship include: feelings of love, friendship, security, respect, honesty, trust, and loyalty (commitment). People, who are in healthy relationships, uplift each other – not tear each other down. They feel good when they are around each another, and they share common interests. On the other hand, people, who are in unhealthy relationships, tend to express high levels of stress, frustration, disappointment, sadness, and anger. These individuals often dread spending time together, and, as a result, tend to spend more time away from each other than with each other. Constant arguments, indifference, and a lack of respect are common signs of an unhealthy relationship. You can cope with an unhealthy relationship by learning the signs, and knowing when to fight the relationship and when to throw in the towel.
- Dr. R. Y. Langham
Healthy Place. (2008).What constitutes an unhealthy relationship. Retrieved from http://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/unhealthy-relationships/what-constitutes-an-unhealthy-relationship/
Love is Respect. (2015). Dating abuse statistics. Retrieved from http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/dating-violence-statistics
Meads, A. (2014). 6 warning signs that you may be in a toxic relationship. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexis-meads/6-warning-signs-that-you-may-be-in-a-toxic-relationship_b_5824112.html
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