Healthy Relationships vs Unhealthy Relationships

A couple that learned the difference between healthy vs. unhealthy relationships laughing while the woman spins in a circle

Every relationship has its own set of challenges, which makes it hard to tell if the challenges you face in your relationship are healthy or dysfunctional. Do you think you’re in a healthy relationship? If so, are you sure about that? And what makes it a healthy relationship as opposed to unhealthy?

Not all of the things that make a relationship bad for your are the big obvious things like abuse, mistrust, or control. Sometimes the things that make a relationship unhealthy are the things you don’t notice at first or don’t even know to look out for.

To help you better identify the understand your relationships, here are some of the ways you can work out if you’re in a healthy relationship vs. an unhealthy relationship:

Real giving vs. selfish giving.
In any healthy relationship, you should both be giving love and care to each other simply because you want to, and without expecting anything in return. You do so because you want to make your partner happy and to satisfy their needs.

There shouldn’t be any keeping score, or feeling like you’re indebted to the other person. An unhealthy relationship is when there’s always a price to pay for something you’ve received, and it doesn’t feel natural.

Accepting vs. wanting to change your partner.
A healthy relationship means both of you accept one another for who you really are—flaws and all. No one is perfect, and it’s about accepting all of the things you love about someone, along with their imperfections.

In an unhealthy relationship, there’s usually one person who is trying to change the other person, and get them to fit what they want from someone. This becomes a controlling relationship, where one person is in control, and the other person feels pressured and guilted into pleasing the other.

Independence vs. dependence.
In a healthy relationship, both people should still be independent from that relationship, have their own ideas, their own dreams, and a healthy social life. They should be able to enjoy spending time on their own, and pursue their own interests and passions.

When one or both partners are dependent on the other, they feel the need to constantly be with them, and they might also get jealous when the other person wants to do anything that doesn’t involve them. This is unhealthy because it shows neediness, and also the need for validation from their partner to feel good enough and loved.

Taking care of yourself vs. always putting your partner’s needs first.
For a relationship to be healthy, both partners should focus on their needs first, and that includes making sure they are fulfilled and happy and getting what they want from the relationship. Only then will you be able to care for someone else in a balanced and healthy way.

The signs of an unhealthy relationship are when you’re only focused on pleasing your partner and meeting their needs, and you neglect your own needs as a result. This can end up leading to resentment of your partner, and can leave you feeling very unfulfilled and miserable in your relationship.

Honesty vs lying.
The foundation of any strong relationship is built on trust. Without it, it cannot survive long term. Some things are hard to say, and there are some difficult conversations we’d rather not have, but it’s important to always be honest with each other so that you maintain that level of trust. This open and honest way of communicating is vital for any relationship to thrive.

In an unhealthy relationship, lies might be told to keep the peace or protect someone’s feelings, or because you don’t want to reveal how you’re truly feeling. The thing about lying is that after you do it once, it can quickly become a habit you slip into, which can turn the entire relationship into a lie.

Fulfillment vs lack.
In a healthy relationship, both people should feel fulfilled and like their needs are being met. It should add an extra layer to their already great lives. And if ever their needs aren’t being met, they have those conversations and begin working on how to address that.

But in an unhealthy relationship, one or both people will focus on what’s missing in the relationship, and what their partner is not giving them. No matter how much they do have, they will always live in a constant state of lack. They might not have even addressed this with their partner, or they may place full responsibility on their partner to give them everything they need, without taking some responsibility for that themselves.

Agreement vs disagreement.
Disagreements are normal between two people, especially when you start living together and spending a lot of time with each other. That being said, you should largely be on the same page, and you should be in alignment when it comes to the big things in life, otherwise the relationship doesn’t stand much of a chance.

Arguments can help bring you closer together because you get to know the other person on a deeper level, but they shouldn’t be a regular occurence. If one person is unwilling to see their partner’s point of view, or the arguing becomes malicious and involves blaming, then that’s the sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Commitment vs indifference.
In a healthy relationship, both people are committed to making it work, and putting the time and effort in to keep it running. This isn’t always easy, but if you’re both dedicated and your relationship is a priority to you both, then you’ll make it work.

In an unhealthy relationship, one or both people are not making it a priority. They aren’t interested in putting the work in to maintain a healthy, happy relationship, even when they know their partner is unhappy.

Do you notice any of these behaviour patterns in your current relationship? Hopefully this will help you figure out if you’re in a healthy or unhealthy one, and help you decide what action you need to take next.

Shani Jay

Bestselling Author and Empowerment Coach

Shani is a bestselling author, empowerment coach for women, and self-love advocate. She is the author of Bloom, The Babe Bible, Glow Getter, and Light Up Your Life; and her writing has been featured on many internationally recognized platforms including The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, and Teen Vogue.

​In 2016 Shani founded The Glow Getter Tribe – a self-love & kindness movement which helps young girls & women worldwide feel happy, confident and beautiful starting from the inside, out.

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