How to Avoid Bad Relationships
With the divorce rate in the United States hovering around 50%, the news media filled with daily reports of violent relationships, and doctors reporting illness caused be stressful relationships reaching an all-time high; it is time to think about how to avoid bad relationships. While it is true some good relationships go bad over time, most poor relationships could have been avoided if “red flags” had been taken seriously. There are many ways to avoid a bad relationship, and here follow some important considerations:
- Get to know yourself: Though it may sound “corny,” it is wise to take the time to list things about yourself that you feel strongly about and would want another person to validate and respect. For example, if you get upset when someone makes unkind jokes about ethnic groups and thinks these jokes funny, you would not find a relationship with that person a happy one. Some of your relationship needs can be adjusted, but when you look in-depth at yourself, you will find certain issues you can’t tolerate and certain issues you really must-have. A must-have in a relationship could be someone who likes to hug, or who enjoys nature and taking a walk or is an exercise enthusiast. Only you can know yourself, and what characteristics are “must-haves” and what are a definite “no” can be worked with.
- Trying to change the other person: If you find yourself wanting to change another person’s behavior or if the other person is frequently trying to change yours, a relationship under those circumstances if doomed from the start. While it is true people can change it is also true the person has to want the change for themselves, not just to please others and is willing to put forth the effort needed to change. Most of our habits are ones we are comfortable with, and the right partner should enjoy us as we already are, and we should enjoy him or her as they already are.
- Feeling uncomfortable or unhappy: When you are with the other person, hurtful or unkind things are said in public or in private. You are continually being “put down,” and your self-esteem is suffering. Little you do seem to please the other person, so you are on edge much of the time. Life becomes a stress-filled experience, which is not good emotionally or physically. Many studies have proven the connection between stress and poor health.
- Feelings of being manipulated and used: The other person keeps trying to take advantage of you by making you feel sorry for them, by needing money, needing to be waited on, or other acts which require you to “serve” them in some way. Manipulation usually shows up in a person who always wants their own way. Your ideas and needs usually are not important.
- Trouble communicating: Communication, both verbal and body language is vitally necessary for a good relationship. If you find you aren’t able to talk openly, share feelings, and the other person doesn’t have a willingness to work problems out, you will find a relationship that is a dead end.
- Covering up for another’s actions: If you find yourself having to make excuses for the behavior of the other person, or telling “little white lies,” or keeping secrets to avoid others knowing the truth about the other person, your relationship will not be healthy.
- Intense feelings of jealousy and mistrust: If either you or the other person feel you or they cannot be trusted a relationship will never work well. Jealousy and feelings of the need for complete possession of the other person are also warning signs for a bad relationship.
- Decision making is one-sided: In a good relationship, each person should be able to have a say in making decisions that affect each other. When one person wants to control the outcomes of a relationship by making all the decisions, the relationship will eventually crush the person who must always live according to another’s decisions.
- Addictions, violent temper, lying: These are all signs of a person you would not want to have an on-going relationship with. You may care for such a person and want to try to “help,” but in time you would likely be the one needing help.
Avoiding bad relationships can be tricky, especially if you meet a person with whom you seem to connect. It is essential to give yourself time to find out about a person and find out if there are “red flags” warning you of potential problems in the future. Know yourself, know what you want and need from and in a relationship, be honest about what you find, and you should be able to avoid bad relationships.