Is Your Relationship Dysfunctional?
Everyone has their own vision of what an ideal relationship looks like. This might be based on the marriage of your parents, depictions in romantic films, societal descriptions and/or cultural expectations.
Sometimes this ideal version doesn’t match up to the reality people find themselves in. Sure, all relationships will have ebbs and flows of good and bad times. That’s perfectly normal and natural.
The problem arises when there are repeated patterns of behaviors that chip away at the safety and trust that should exist in a loving, healthy relationship.
How do you know if you are in a dysfunctional relationship?
When there seems to be more emotional turbulence than fulfillment in your relationship, or when your time together becomes more destructive than constructive, you are probably in a partnership that is not healthy for you.
Recognizing the signs of a relationship that has become dysfunctional is an important and healthy step to either fixing the problems if both partners are willing to work on it, or leaving the relationship altogether.
Here are five signs that indicate your relationship could be dysfunctional:
1. You have the same arguments time and time again without resolving them.
Communication is key to all relationships. Once communication begins to break down, relationships begin to break down as well. The ability to agree and compromise is important in relationships, and they start to devolve and become dysfunctional when that ability becomes compromised.
Arguing from time to time is normal, but in healthy relationships the problems get discussed, resolved and forgiven. The key here is to learn how to listen to your partner and truly work to make necessary changes.
2. You blame all of your relationship problems on your partner.
The most frustrated, dissatisfied and unhappy couples are those who blame their spouse for problems in the relationship. This is also one of the biggest hurdles to overcome for most partners coming for couples counseling. There HAS to be a shift in taking ownership of your own role in solving problems to improve your marital satisfaction.
This is key to happy relationships. Research shows that people who blame others lose status, learn less, and perform worse relative to others. Why? Because blame creates inaction. When someone blames, it’s as if they’re handing over control of the situation. “I can’t change until you do,” is the implicit message. The solution is in their partner’s hands, which increases frustration and feelings of hopelessness.
3. There is building resentment.
Resentment in a relationship has several causes. You are likely to build resentful feelings if you often feel dismissed, ignored, criticized, or that the relationship is very imbalanced.
Over time, this creates a chasm in the bond you once shared. When partners start resenting each other, the level of trust between them is affected drastically. You might feel they would be unavailable for you when you need them, and hence, you would be less likely to rely on them. This, in turn, affects your commitment towards your relationship because if you start expecting less, you will start giving less and less to the relationship.
4. Compulsive lying exists.
People lie for many reasons and we are all guilty of it to some degree from time to time. Many people lie because they want to protect themselves from an unpleasant situation or conflict. Both children and adults lie to avoid unpleasant consequences or punishment and often out of fear of angering another person.
Maybe a lie is intended to spare hurting someone’s feelings, present a good image, or keep a secret for another person.
But when lying becomes a frequent occurrence in the relationship, something is terribly wrong. Every relationship is built on mutual trust, whether that relationship is romantic or not.
Lying quickly erodes that trust, hurting both people in the process. The fact of the matter is that for a relationship to work, both parties must be able to trust each other. Though some might argue that trust can always be regained, it is not as simple as it sounds and lying can, over time, cause irreparable damage. An ideal relationship is built on trust, openness, mutual respect and personal freedom.
5. Walking on eggshells is the norm.
Tension in a relationship can lead to anxiety, depression and a drop-in self-esteem, because you’re constantly sacrificing everything about yourself in order to keep the peace in the relationship.
If you agree with some/most of the following statements, chances are good that you are in a dysfunctional relationship:
- I feel nervous when I have to bring up certain topics to my partner for fear of setting them off or sending them into a tirade.
- I don’t bother giving my opinion on a topic and defending my position because it only incites my partner further.
- I feel physical symptoms when I am around my partner and know a difficult conversation is on the horizon (butterflies, trembling hands, chest heaviness, shallow breathing).
- I can’t bring up a topic to my partner without them becoming incredibly defensive.
- My partner gets mad at me if I’m in a bad mood. It can be absolutely nothing related to our relationship, but if I’m moody or quiet it’s not ok with them.