An Unhealthy Relationship

An Unhealthy Relationship

Are you in an unhealthy relationship feeling unsatisfied and miserable without knowing what to do?

A healthy relationship contributes to your life and well-being. A relationship can become unhealthy when you or your partner struggle to find a healthy way to share your feelings, desires, doubts, concerns and hear each other out. You can get your relationship back on track by improving your communication, and objectively address the issues in your relationship.

In this article, you will learn what are the common causes of an unhealthy relationship, how you can identify if you are in one and what you can do about it.

What Is an Unhealthy Relationship?

To understand what it means to be in an unhealthy relationship, let’s have a look at how unhealthy is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary:

  1. Not conducive to health; not healthful
  2. Not in good health; sickly, diseased
  3. Risky, unsound
    • of a harmful nature: bad, injurious
    • morally contaminated: corrupt, unwholesome

Relationships become unhealthy over time due to suppress feelings and unresolved problems. A relationship becomes unhealthy when certain habits are detrimental for the well-being of one or both partners.

You can recognise an unhealthy relationship as the one that no longer contributes to your life and well-being in a positive way.

Relationships become unhealthy when partners fail to recognise or resolve their problems. An “unhealthy relationship” if left undressed can become toxic. If you and your partner can improvements by yourselves provided you have willingness, tools and understanding to do so.

Characteristics of an Unhealthy Relationship

  • Arguments
  • Controlling
  • Dishonesty
  • Obsession
  • Possessiveness
  • Manipulation
  • Isolating from friends, family or things we like to do
  • Belittling
  • Blame
  • Dependency
  • Not spending enough time together
  • Growing apart
  • Influencing you to do things you don’t really want to do
  • You feel uncomfortable with your partner’s behaviour towards you
  • Your relationship has no direction

Being in an Unhealthy Relationship

When you are in an unhealthy relationship:

  1. You no longer enjoy being with your partner.
  2. Overtime you grow further and further away from each other.
  3. It becomes a struggle
  4. When you don’t know how to resolve problems, they eventually accumulate.
  5. It doesn’t contributes to your well-being, it takes you away from enjoying your life and achieving your goals.
  6. It takes you away from doing the activities you enjoy and spending the time with the people you like.

Example of an Unhealthy Relationship

You met someone who you really like and you started dating with time you grew closer and started to spend a significant amount of time together. Then, you decide to move in together. Inevitably, you had different opinions on different things like food, work, and travelling. Some disagreements were easy to sort out while others were more challenging to sort out.

In the beginning you may have chosen to ignore some things and to avoid arguments on the name of a harmonious relationship. However, overtime issues grew bigger and unresolved problems accumulated. Then, instead of enjoying your time together like you did in the beginning. You are having increasingly more arguments, feeling less connected and emotionally drifting apart.

This is an unhealthy relationship, it’s the middle ground between a healthy relationship and a toxic relationship. It’s the point where you are having problem sin your relationship, but you are still having a chance to fix it and get back on track. However, continuing to ignore these problems or not being able to resolve them in a healthy way is likely to lead to a toxic relationship.

A toxic relationship is characterised by more intense emotions and bigger struggles. They are not only unhealthy for your relationship, but they are actually destructive for you personally. So, now it’s your chance to set things right or if that is not possible to end the relationship and move on.

Unhealthy vs Healthy Relationship

A healthy relationship contributes to your life and well-being. An unhealthy relationship limits your personal development and gets in the way of you enjoying your life, and achieving your goals.

Causes of an Unhealthy Relationship

One of the causes of an unhealthy relationship is the not sharing what each of you want and need clearly. When you don’t show how you feel about each other and in the relationship, your relationship will become unhealthy.

Why Do People Stay in an Unhealthy Relationship?

There are several reasons why people choose to stay in an unhealthy relationship such as:

  • Fear of being alone
  • Hope that problems will sort themselves out
  • Believe things will change for the better
  • Time will heal the relationship
  • Expectation that problems will go away
  • Expecting the other person to change
  • Considering the problems are not too bad
  • The belief that these problems are normal
  • Ignoring the signs that the relationship is turning unhealthy

People could be drawn to an unhealthy relationship because of their own patterns of behaviour and deep beliefs. These can stem from past experiences or even as far back as their childhood and upbringing.

Effects of an Unhealthy Relationship

When you stay in an unhealthy relationship for a while, it will start having an effect in your life and well-being:

  • It keeps you away from your goals
  • Makes your life miserable
  • You are unsatisfied and unhappy
  • You feel alone, ignored, misunderstood, not cared for, not valued, lost and confused.
  • You are stressed and anxious
  • You stop caring for yourself
  • Your self-esteem goes down
  • Emotionally and/or physically damaging
  • Drains you physically and emotionally

Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

If you recognise some of the following signs, it means your relationship is unhealthy:

  • It’s based only on the physical aspect
  • You feel it’s not going anywhere
  • You and your partner are drifting apart
  • You feel this relationship is draining you
  • You think it’s holding you back from achieving your goals
  • It lacks intimacy
  • It has lost its spark
  • You are too comfortable
  • It is turning more into a friendship than a romantic relationship
  • You feel unhappy
  • You feel unbalanced
  • It is moving too slow
  • You feel your relationship is stagnant
  • It’s boring
  • It lacks good communication
  • It is stressing you out
  • It’s a rut
  • It’s cooling off
  • It’s a one-sided relationship

How to Fix an Unhealthy Relationship

  1. Clearly express your needs and desires. As well as your thoughts, feelings, doubts and concerns openly and honestly to your partner. If you are feeling uncomfortable doing it, tell your partner that you need help opening up to him or her.
  2. When one of you is expressing, it’s time for the other person to listen without judging, interrupting, or trying to see the problems and fix them.
  3. Once, you can comfortably express yourselves and hear each other. That in itself is enough to get you back to a healthy relationship in most cases.
  4. Once you have a healthy communication you can objectively approach the issues you are having in your relationship. Working as a team, rather than seeing each other as an enemy.

Ending an Unhealthy Relationship

When to End an Unhealthy Relationship

You know it’s time to end your relationship when you tried everything you could to fix it, but couldn’t. Before making a final call, talk to a relationship coach to get their professional perspective on your situation.

How to End an Unhealthy Relationship

If you decide to end your unhealthy relationship, it is still worth avoiding making unilateral decisions. It is best to make this decision together if you can.

How to Move On from an Unhealthy Relationship

When moving on from an unhealthy relationship, it is worth reflecting on how you contributed to this relationship and what made it unhealthy.

Once you understand what you did in the relationship that you felt that was contributing in a positive way and in a negative way, you can learn from it. So, in your future relationships, you can be mindful of what you are doing.


A relationship becomes unhealthy because either there’s a lack of expression from either or both of you about what you need and want. Or, because you cannot hear each other out.

Without expressing what you feel and what you need, your partner won’t know what is inside of you. So, it would be very hard for them to understand your experience of this relationship. Even if they are willing to help you address your concerns.

The other part that contributes to the development of an unhealthy relationship is the lack of listening. Where neither you nor your partner hears what each of you need and want.

If you are to find your way back to a healthy relationship, you need to establish an effective way to communicate. This is one of the first things we focus in on couples coaching.

Getting Help with an Unhealthy Relationship

Tips on How to Deal with an Unhealthy Relationship

  • Don’t ignore the signs of an unhealthy relationship
  • Try to express your concerns as soon as possible and address any issues as they arise
  • Improve your communication

If you don’t know how to deal with an unhealthy relationship and you need professional help and advice, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy?

Your ability to communicate effectively, express yourselves and hear each other out. Discuss your issues as objectively as you can.

Can unhealthy relationships become healthy?

Yes, if you see each other as a team and work together to resolve problems. It becomes more challenging if you are seeing yourselves as victims and each other as an enemy.

Do unhealthy relationships last?

An unhealthy relationship can last as long as the couple doesn’t recognise the issues and chooses to ignore them. At some point unresolved issues become a part of their relationship. As this relationship deteriorates over time, partners tend to become miserable and the relationship becomes toxic.

How to avoid unhealthy relationships?

By feeling free and comfortable to express yourselves without the fear of judgement knowing you will be heard and understood. As well as by welcoming the openness and trying to understand each other’s point of view.

Are open relationships unhealthy?

Open relationships are a way to fulfil sexual or emotional needs by seeing other people.

Are long distance relationships unhealthy?

Long-distance relationships can work really well for short periods of time. But, without the physical intimacy, an LDR is an incomplete romantic relationship. The longer it lasts, the more unfulfilled and dissatisfied you may feel.

How do you know you have a healthy relationship?

You enjoy being together, you discuss interesting topics, you do fun things. You support each other and are able to solve any issues as they arise in a healthy and loving way.

How to identify unhealthy relationships?

Some of the signs of an unhealthy relationship include physical avoidance, emotional distance, negative feelings, inability to open up or hear each other out.

Can unhealthy relationships cause anxiety?

Unresolved problems can lead to frustration and resentment unless you address them effectively and in good time. These emotions will build up until this feelings becomes your norm replacing the feelings you once felt.

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