Being in a good, healthy relationship can positively affect your individual health in so many ways. Numerous studies have discovered the various health benefits being in a committed partnership can provide, such as major boosts to your physical, mental, and overall well-being. But not all relationships are healthy, and even for those that are, there’s no denying that not all that glitters is gold.
Relationships can also be filled with anxiety, stress, confusion and all kinds of other toxicity that could prove damaging to your health. Here’s one major way your relationship is bad for your health. Oddly enough, it’s kind of a good thing.
“It's when your partner becomes your everything; your best friend, your confidant, the one you always think about, and the person you do everything with," Benjamin Ritter, interpersonal, dating, and relationships consultant, tells Bustle. “It's highlighted as a symbol of love, when really, it can do more harm to your health than almost anything."
Now let’s be honest, who’s never been guilty of making your partner your everything before? It's kind of sweet, and movies like to romanticize it. When you finally find someone you really do like, it’s hard to not invest all your time and energy into making it work. But therein lies the issue.
“The problem with a relationship over taking your life is that it also overtakes your mental processes,” Ritter says. “Your mind has a limited capacity every day, and sometimes when people find ‘the one’ they spend all of their thought power on that person.”
It becomes worse when you’re in a toxic relationship. According to Ritter, the same limiting effect also happens when you are in an extremely stressful relationship. Your mind gets stuck. It's commonly seen that bad relationships just have a way of sucking all the positivity out of your life.
Haven't you ever wondered why you become a “mental powerhouse” when you finally break free of a negative relationship? Well, some people don't realize that the same thing can happen in an extremely positive relationship.
“It's incredibly important to keep some distance, and take alone time in any type of relationship,” Ritter says. “You need to give yourself time to grow and introspect away from the relationships that distract (even in a good way) your mind. The one way your relationship is ruining your health is that you aren't focused on your own personal growth, but on the relationship’s growth.”
I know it feels great to be happy and in love. But don’t let that consume you. As Ritter goes on to say, relationships may end, but the focus on your own personal growth shouldn’t. Here are other ways your relationship could be bad for your health:
1. You Can Overcompensate In Other Areas Of Your Life
If you’re in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy, you may find yourself searching for fulfillment in other ways. In some cases, that may take a turn for the worse.
“What I've learned as a dating and relationship coach for over eight years is when we're unhappy in our relationships we overdo in other ares of our life looking for the satisfaction we're missing,” dating and relationship coach, Christine Baumgartner tells Bustle.
For example, too much exercise, too much spending, too much silence (when you really need to talk), and too much time at work.
"Being chronically unhappy in our relationships causes 'overdoing' in other areas of our life which will definitely ruin our health in various ways," Baumgartner says. "Conversely when our relationships are going well, we'll usually have a better balance in the other areas of our life.”
2. Bad Relationships Can Lead To Mental Health Issues
Abusive relationships whether they be verbal, emotional, physical or sexual can often lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and dissociation.
“Because your brain is continually forming new neural connections throughout the span of life, traumatic experiences from abusive relationships have the ability to negatively impact perceptions and cognition long after the event,” psychiatrist Dr. Lisa Fairweather tells Bustle. “As a psychiatrist, I have noticed an increase in escapism or turning to other destructive behaviors frequently manifesting as addictions as a result of such trauma.”
But abusive relationships aren’t the only things that could prove damaging on your mental health. As Yue Xu, dating expert and co-host of Date/able Podcast tells Bustle, “Early dating can cause a lot of anxiety when you aren't quite sure where you stand. Even as dating progresses there can be mental anguish as different relationship stages come into play. If you find yourself too uncomfortable you may want to assess if this is a healthy relationship or focus on your own mental health.”
3. Your Physical Health May Suffer
As Dr. Phoenyx Austin, M.D. a sports medicine and sports nutrition specialist tells Bustle, elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can be blamed for health issues connected to your relationship.
“The problem comes into play when we have situations where people are chronically stressed out. As a result your body will start constantly secreting cortisol and this is very, very bad for your health in general," Austin says.
We all know that nothing good can come out of being stressed. When your relationship is the source of that stress, well, that’s obviously not a good thing. Feelings of insecurity, for instance, can cause stress. When you’re in an insecure relationship, you can't count on the love and support of your partner. Will they really be there for you when they say they will? Do they really love you? Are they cheating?
“All those insecurities create stress in life and stress leads to numerous physical and emotional ailments: headaches, digestive problems, nervous conditions, insomnia—the list goes on,” dating and relationship coach, Rosalind Sedacca tells Bustle. “The longer one lives with this level of insecurity, the stronger the negative impact on your health.”
A 2015 University of Michigan study of 1,300 adults found that stress of a bad relationship could lead to spikes in blood pressure. In addition to high blood pressure, stress can also lead to a wide range of health issues such as heart disease, depression, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction amongst others.
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