When you're happy and in love, you hear birds singing everywhere you go, and you see rainbows everywhere you look. But just because you're happy, and in love, it doesn't mean those birds aren't sick or those rainbows don't lead to a pot of chlamydia — well, you get the idea. Even happy relationships can be unhealthy. And I'm not talking about relationships where happiness is a front for insecurity or denial. I'm talking about relationships where two people just adore each- other, and love being together. But maybe things are a little bit off. Or maybe they're not off yet, and those people want to keep things happy and full of love.
I truly believe that most of us do the best we can with what we have. And sometimes we learn the wrong things about relationships, As a former Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I learned that what we have often ends up being a bunch of good intentions with poor execution. That's how good, happy relationships wind up in unhealthy territory. Luckily, most of the things that make relationships unhealthy, or at least the ones on this article, can be fixed with some loving kindness, honest communication, courage, and hard work. And maybe a little therapy. No shame in therapy.
1. You're Too Nice
Being too nice can be just as bad as not being nice at all. When you're too nice, not only do you create this kind of "too good to be true" and unsustainable situation, but you also make it easy for you to start piling up resentments until one day you explode over something minor and leave your partner scratching your head. People aren't always nice. It's just reality. And you're not doing your partner any favors by keeping your real thoughts and opinions to yourself all the time. It means you're also keeping part of the real you to yourself.
2. You Don't Make Decisions
Decisions may seem like no big deal, especially the small, daily ones, like what to have for dinner, or what movie to watch, but at their core, they're about power. If one person makes all the decisions, that person has unequal power, even if you're just letting your partner make decisions to be nice, or if you're making them to be nice. You both have opinions that matter. It's not healthy to let one person make all the decisions. Two people, two voices.
3. You Don't Talk About What Bothers You
Maybe you were taught that it's not good manners to complain or get angry. Maybe you just don't want to cause trouble or seem like you're making a big deal out of nothing. No matter the reason, if you're not talking about what's bothering you, you're not being emotionally honest with your partner. And you're poisoning the well of your relationship with resentment. If your partner loves you, they also want to know what you think and feel, even if it isn't positive.
4. You Spend Too Much Time Together
Even if your partner is the greatest person you know, and your favorite person to be around, you can't spend all your time together. That's not healthy. You have to maintain your relationships with your friends and family. You have to spend time with people alone and not as a couple. You even have to spend some time alone. In other words, you have to stay your own person and not become a co-dependent two-person unit.
5. You Stop Doing Your Own Thing
You have to do the work, school, hobbies, and interests you loved before you got into a relationship.It's OK to develop new hobbies and interests that you also share with your partner, but the things you love need to stay yours. No matter how happy you are being with your partner, it's not healthy to give up big parts of your life or identity for the sake of your relationship,
6. You Keep Secrets
Keeping secrets in your relationship can poison the well of trust. Sometimes we keep secrets because we have good intentions. We want to spare our partner's feelings, or keep the peace. Maybe we don't want to worry the or make them mad. That's not healthy. If you make a regular habit of keeping secrets from your partner, this means you don't have a relationship based on trust, and relationships need to be based on trust. True partners can talk about difficult things and work on problems together.
7. You Subvert Your Goals
It's easy to get so happy in a relationship that the relationship becomes your life. Sometimes your goals change, and that's natural, but if your goals didn't change, you just put them on the back burner to focus on your relationship, that's when you have to consider if it was healthy or not. Sometimes goals have to wait, but that doesn't mean they have to go away. When they go away, it's likely you'll find regret in their place. A true partner in a healthy relationship wants you to achieve your goals and will support you when they can.
Love and happiness are great, but they don't automatically mean that you're in a healthy relationship. Luckily if you already have the happiness in place, and no one is being abused, you can do the work to get your relationship to a whole new level of healthy and wonderful.
Images: milan2099/E+/Getty Images; Giphy (7)