Self-Care 101: 4 Signs of Unhealthy Relationships

Could your relationships be snipping away at your health and wellness? This is such an important question to pose when viewing self-care in its fullness. Though we tend to focus specifically on wellness activities and exercises to add to our daily routines or lean toward identifying the things we neglect to do or make time for, we often overlook the role that our relationships play when it comes to the area of self-care.

Relationships can be a very sensitive area to address because it includes some of our most intimate and significant connections, whether familial, platonic, romantic, or professional. Some relationships have helped to shape our past and present, and others have a future or lifelong impact on our lives. Therefore, it’s not always easy coming to the realization that a specific relationship must draw to an end or be redefined.

The desire for companionship, a sense of belonging or responsibility, or the possibility for growth and opportunity can influence a person’s decision to stay in a relationship even though it may be unhealthy. We’ve all heard about toxic relationships, but the truth is, holding onto relationships of that nature can leave a person depleted and broken. However, there are many cases of individuals who hold onto relationships at the expense of their own health and well-being. And as challenging as it may be to choose yourself after you’ve grown accustomed to putting others first, choosing you is a decision that can transform the trajectory of your life.

Moreover, since relationships develop over a course of time, it’s not always easy to recognize the red flags, and sometimes we ignore them in an attempt to see the best in others and in hope that the relationship will make a change for the better. In either case, it’s important that we at least recognize 4 key signs of unhealthy relationships. If any of your relationships exhibit any of the following, be sure to address it and decide whether this is a relationship that can be fixed or if it’s one that must come to an end.

  1. Lack of respect for your boundaries.
  2. Places their needs and/or their expectations of you above what is best for you.
  3. Is comfortable or even content with mistreating you.
  4. Will pressure or force you to believe you must compromise who you are and/or what you value in order to preserve your relationship.

Once you’ve identified what signs to be cautious of, here are 3 steps to make sure that you find balance, peace, and enjoyment in the relationships that you are in.

1. Conduct a relationship inventory.

Look at all areas of relationship in your life (familial, platonic, romantic, professional, and even digital!) and identify what these relationships mean to you. Ask yourself, what is the basis of this connection? Is it short-term, long-term, or lifelong? What value is this individual or group adding to your life (and vice versa)? How does this relationship make you feel? How has or how will this relationship influence your life? Do you need to block and delete some contacts from your cell, unfollow a few followers on social media, adjust your privacy settings, or shut off your phone for the weekend? You know what’s best for you. Be confident in making the decision that aligns with your needs.

2. Create clear boundaries.

Sometimes, all it takes is being able to set defined boundaries. Not everyone is aware of how they may be crossing certain limits in a relationship. Therefore, when you create a boundary, communicate it, and uphold it, it sets the tone of that relationship and establishes a level of respect between both parties that shows that you can both honour your relationship enough to regard your limits.

3. Protect your time and energy.

Not everyone is deserving of the time and energy you have to offer. There are certain relationships that can leave you feeling drained and defeated. Some relationships can be one-sided, leaving one person in the position to hold that relationship up while giving more than they are capable of giving, only to have the other individual unwilling to contribute or reciprocate anything in the relationship. You must understand that your time and energy is a valuable asset that shouldn’t be readily accessible nor available at any time to just anybody.  

Today, begin to reflect and identify any signs that indicate that you may be in an unhealthy relationship, and begin to take these 3 steps to make sure you’re practicing self-care while experiencing the fullness of the relationships in your life.

If there are any other great steps that have helped you maintain and preserve your relationships, I’d love for you to share them in the comments!


Dr. Natasha

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