I pretty much hate when relationship advice is all "these things should be absolutely true in your relationship" because we're all different, and we all handle our scandals in different ways. For example, maybe in your relationship, you can say "you suck" in a totally laughing way and it's no big deal, but in someone else's relationship, saying "you suck" is another blow to an already weakened sense of self-esteem and self-worth. But the thing is, there are some total deal breakers when it comes to healthy relationships. Too many people settle for less than what they deserve because they're in love, or because they don't want to be alone. Those are not good reasons to stay in an unhealthy or unsatisfying relationship. Contrary to what we're shown in movies and on TV, love isn't everything. You can love someone who is terrible for you, and you can truly need to leave someone who you love, for your own benefit.
When I worked as a Domestic Violence Victim Advocate and Planned Parenthood Certified Responsible Sexuality Educator, I saw lots of settling. Lots of people saying "but I love them." Lots of people tolerating unhealthy and abusive behaviors. No matter who you're dating, the following things should absolutely be true in your relationship, and you shouldn't settle for anything less.
1. You're Happy More Than You're Unhappy
Your relationship should make you happy. Like, really happy. You will have rough patches (even ones that last a long time, if you're working through big issues) and sometimes your partner will get on your last nerve, but on the whole, you should be content the majority of the time. If your relationship seems like it brings you nothing but misery, you don't have to stay in it.
2. You Never Have To Walk On Eggshells
If you have to walk on eggshells, it's probably because your partner has a temper, or exercises tight control over you. No one should have to walk on eggshells in a relationship to keep the other person happy. And you are not responsible for another person's happiness. It's not your job to keep the peace or keep your partner happy so they don't yell at you (or worse). That's a problem they need to deal with on their own.
3. You Can Do What You Want
Yep. You're an adult person in charge of your own life, and if you want to go have coffee with a friend, or buy a lipstick, or watch a movie at your sister's house, you should be able to. You shouldn't feel like you have to ask permission to live your life or constantly justify your actions. Maybe you check in with your partner, like "hey, do you care if I go out tonight?" because you're courteous, or because you generally let each other know where you're going, but never because you need permission.
4. You Don't Get Accused Of Cheating Every Day
Getting accused of cheating every day, or whenever you wear something nice, or when you get text messages from friends, or really, just out of the blue (basically, if it happens a lot) is a sign that your partner doesn't trust you, or wants to have an unhealthy level of control over you, and you certainly don't have to put up with that.
5. Nobody Calls You Any Names You're Not OK With
You don't ever have to tolerate being called names, or any name that makes you feel uncomfortable. Even when they're mad or even when you think you deserve it (you don't), your partner should never be hurling insults and derogatory names at you. And things like, "I didn't call you a whore, I said you look like a whore" are just as bad and yes, absolutely the same thing as calling someone a name.
6. Nobody Makes You Have Any Kind Of Sex That You're Uncomfortable With
In a good, healthy relationship, you have the kind of sex you like, when you're comfortable having it. No one makes you have sex when you don't want to. No one makes you do things you don't like. No one forces you to have unsafe sex, sex with multiple partners, or sex for money. If those things happen, that's sexual abuse.
7. Nobody Injures You Intentionally
You never worry about getting hurt in your relationship. I'm not talking about your partner accidentally elbowing you in their sleep. I'm talking about your partner using violence, or the threat of violence, to get what they want. And it doesn't have to be in a mean way. I've seen people casually say things like "she knows I would kill her if she cheated on me" while they were playing video games and laughing. Not OK. Never OK.
8. You're Not Settling
If you're settling, you probably already know you're settling. You'll say things to your friends like "I know they're not the greatest, but..." You'll feel in your gut that things could be better. You'll secretly get jealous of friends whose relationships have things your wish yours had, like passion or romance. You don't ever have to settle, even if the person you're dating is great. There's a lid for every pot, but not every lid has to go on your pot. If you know what I mean.
9. Your Boundaries Are Always Respected
If your partner knows you don't like it when they playfully say "I hate you" or stay out late without calling (because you worry a lot or have anxiety, not because you are controlling — big difference) and they do it anyway, those are examples of not respecting your boundaries. A partner who loves you won't cross your lines all the time and not care about it.
10. You Feel Safe To Tell Your Partner Most Anything
This isn't the same as never feeling nervous about telling your partner something. No one likes to deliver bad news. But you should never feel afraid to talk to your partner. You should always feel like you can tell your partner things, even bad things, without getting hurt (physically, mentally, or emotionally).
11. You're Free To Pursue Your Own Goals and Interests
In any good relationship, you're free to do you. You might compromise and sacrifice from time to time, but you don't have to constantly put your goals and dreams on the back burner. You still get to live your full life and become your best self. You get to grow and change. You get to make new friends and explore new interests with support from your partner, not with anger.
12. You Both Do The Work
You're good to your partner and they're good to you. You work to make them happy, and they work to make you happy. You're not responsible for keeping your partner calm or happy. You both communicate and try to solve your problems together. You both do housework, and care for each other when you're sick. You're a team, real partners. The work of your relationship doesn't fall on your shoulders.
13. You Could Leave If You Wanted To
You should always feel like you can leave any relationship without facing harm, or fielding threats. If you feel like you can't safely leave, calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline will put you in touch with resources that will be able to help you. You can just talk, too. Calling them isn't like calling 911, so no worries if you're unsure. They can help you make a plan, help set up an emergency escape, or just listen.
If all of these things aren't true in your relationship, you may have strayed into unhealthy or abusive territory. Remember, relationships should enhance your life.
Images; Pixabay (12)