I recently spoke to a friend of mine about her relationship situation. I call it a “situation” because it’s a pretty messy one. I won’t get into it; it’s her business after all, and I’m only in the habit of sharing my own love woes and wins. But something came up in our conversation.
What is the difference between an imperfect relationship and an unhealthy one?
An imperfect relationship is the norm. You argue about this or that and get over it. That’s healthy. Your man gives you the silent treatment for days, or yells at you because you shared your opinion and it differs from his opinion. That’s unhealthy. There’s more, but first let’s talk about why some women get into unhealthy relationships.
But He Has Potential!
It begins with a man who has “potential.” No one is perfect but potential can get women into trouble. Being with a man for his potential blinds women. That’s because many of us have an innate desire to nurture.
We tend to relationships like a gardener tends to her garden, even when the man is mostly made up of weeds. Soon, his pesky behavior, unhealthy habits and emotional immaturity wilts the roses and peonies that have begun to flourish. Namely, the spurts of intimacy, attempts at commitment, and even respect. So what do we do? Instead of abandoning the garden we pull out the weeds and try to salvage the relationship and the man that we love. We choose to ignore the deal breakers, the red flags and the poisonous factors because “no one is perfect,” and “the honeymoon period never lasts.” We try to mold the man in question and the relationship into something beautiful.
Now, you are in an unhealthy relationship. Your garden is no longer; just weeds. Your relationship is failing. The good things that held you together are few and far between. He isn’t perfect, you acknowledge. And he doesn’t have to be. Still, an imperfect relationship isn’t the same as an unhealthy one. We are all imperfect, working our way (hopefully) to become the best version of ourselves.
So, are you in an imperfect relationship or an unhealthy one? Here are some red flags to note.
You can’t speak your mind and heart. As I mentioned earlier, if you can’t speak up and have an opinion without an argument following suit, you’re in trouble. No matter if there’s a difference of opinion, you have the right to have one! You should never be silenced in a relationship, or feel like you have to walk on egg shells every day and at every instant.
You take care of him. But that’s what women do, you say. Yes. We nurture. But your man should also take care of you. It’s not one-sided. If you take care of him, the kids, the household, work – what happens to you and your state of being? You should count on your man to meet your needs. It will look different; we all have different desires. You must become self-first and explore those needs before you share them with your man. When you do your partner should have your back.
The bad has always outweighed the good. In other words, your relationship is made up of fragments of positive experiences, not fragments of negative experiences. If you can’t think of a good memory without a bad memory, it may be time to end your love affair. It’s not always easy – I know. But a relationship cannot flourish on an abundance of pain and misery. Your garden will never transform into the beautiful and nourishing being that it should be.