13 Ways Your Love For Your Partner Is Unhealthy
Love can make a person do some crazy things, as demonstrated in pretty much every romantic comedy ever. In them, we see guys standing outside windows with boomboxes, and girls giving up their careers for the chance to hop on the back of some hot dude's motorcycle. It's fun to watch, in a movie context. But in many ways, real life isn't always that far off. It's definitely possible to fall in love in an unhealthy way, become obsessed with your partner, and lose yourself in the process.
This is what's known as codependency, and it can cause you to become a little too wrapped up in your relationship. As therapist Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, founder of the online community Relationup says, "This occurs because you have an insecure attachment style that causes you to fear losing your partner. You are consciously and unconsciously motivated by your fear that your partner is going to abandon you."
When you feel this way, it can fuel other unhealthy habits, like paranoia, jealousy, and anxiety. That may be cute in the movies, but it's definitely not healthy for real life. If you recognize any of the unhealthy habits below, don't be afraid to reach out to a therapist. He or she can help you figure out a better way of approaching relationships, and love in general.
1. You Feel Anxious Whenever He Or She Isn't Around
It's totally OK to miss your partner when they're not around. But you shouldn't feel anxious or lost without them. And you certainly should sit around being suspicious about their life.
"For example, if you're always worried they might be giving attention to someone else, or you're worried about why they're not texting or calling you, you've developed separation anxiety, which a sign of unhealthy love," dating and relationship expert Erica Gordon tells Bustle. "Anxiety is unhealthy because it consumes your thoughts and distracts you from other priorities that you should be thinking about."
2. You Aren't Entirely Honest With Them
Dishonesty can have roots in a variety of places, but they all lead to unhealthy patterns. As relationship expert Dr. Venessa Marie Perry says, "Typically, love becomes unhealthy because one person is not being completely honest about the relationship, which leads to the other person feeling emotionally unstable and insecure about themselves and the relationship."
She tells me there also might be something going on with you or your partner — perhaps emotionally or mentally — which you're choosing not to share. And that lack of honesty can be unhealthy, too.
3. You've Become A Bit Controlling
Sometimes, love can cause people to become a bit controlling. "This manifests itself by wanting to know what your partner is doing or where they are at all times, stalking, calling/texting incessantly, etc.," Perry says. I'm sure I don't have to go into why that's considered unhealthy.
4. You Change Your Behavior To Make Your Partner Happy
While everyone should strive to make their partner happy, it's not healthy to be in a relationship where you're only doing so out of fear. As Milrad tells me, if you make decisions based solely on what your partner wants, so as not to create conflict and/or create strain in the relationship, you might have an unhealthy situation on your hands.
5. You Try To Be 100 Percent Agreeable All The Time
Again, there's nothing wrong with agreeableness. But if you're trying to show your love by saying "yes" to everything, definitely reevaluate things. As Milrad tells me, you shouldn't be backing down to your partner's demands, or feeling like you have to keep your opinions to yourself.
If that's the case, "you end up being the one to compromise out of fear that your partner will not agree to meet your needs or leave you." And that's not a healthy kind of love.
6. You Only Stay Because You're Afraid To Be Alone
Sure, you say you "love" your partner. But are you only sticking around 'cause you're afraid to be alone? As Milrad tells me, it doesn't count as "love" if you're only dating someone because you're afraid to be alone. That's just not the not the stuff of healthy relationships.
7. You Feel Jealous 24/7
Some jealousy is healthy and normal, as long as it's reasonable. But anything beyond that can cross over into possessiveness, which is the opposite of healthy.
As Gordon says, "If you're constantly feeling insecure and you find that consuming thoughts of your partner are always distracting you from important things that you should be doing, that's a sign of unhealthy and obsessive love."
8. You Rely On Your Partner To Make You Happy
Couples can and should make each other happy. But is your partner your entire life? Is he or she the only thing that keeps you going? "This is a sign that someone does not fully love themselves yet, and they therefore require external love from someone else to feel happy," Gordon says. "Anytime you rely too heavily on your partner for your happiness, that means your love for them is unhealthy. You never want to give someone else the power to make you happy, because that means they also have the power to make you unhappy.""
9. You Don't Have Time For Anybody Else
If you don't want to see or hang out with anyone but your partner, take note. "An inability or unwillingness to socialize without your partner shows an unhealthy dynamic," says relationship expert Kryss Shane, MS, MSW, LSW, LMSW. While you can certainly put your SO first, and choose their company more often than not, it is important to maintain your own life outside the relationship.
10. You've Seriously Compromised Your Goals
I was joking above about quitting your job or giving up your goals in favor of running off with a greasy motorcycle guy. But hey... it can happen. As clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow says, "For a short period of time it is fine, but when you begin to compromise things in life that are very important to you, it is very easy for you to get lost as an individual. And it is easy to build up resentment for having to make the compromises."
It's obviously possible to have a relationship and achieve your goals, but you shouldn't let one overtake the other.
11. You Think Your Love Will Change Them
If your partner has some unhealthy sh*t going on, don't fall into the trap of thinking your love can fix them. Not only does life not work that way, but this type of magical thinking can impact your health, too.
"It seems innocent enough, but loving them with the intention of changing them only takes away your energy, autonomy, and control," Klapow says. "Your love might, in fact, change the person. But you can love them with all your heart and still not effect change."
12. Your Whole Identity Is Tied Up In Your Relationship
While it's certainly great to love your partner with your whole being and take your relationship incredibly seriously, licensed psychologist Dr. Wyatt Fisher tells me it should never become your identity. "When our love relationship becomes central to our value, identity, and worth as a person we think about it 24/7 and our mood is almost entirely contingent upon how well it's going," he says. That's when codependency starts to happen, and that's not as a good thing.
13. Your Relationship Isn't Growing Or Changing
It's OK to be infatuated with someone in the beginning, but eventually that hardcore crush should turn into mutual love and respect, relationship coach Steena Marie Brown tells me. If it doesn't, and you remain stuck in that "obsession" stage, consider your love an unhealthy one that needs to change, ASAP.
That might mean working on yourself, and figuring out what you want out of life, so you rely less on your partner. It might mean going to counseling, to learn how to better balance your life and your relationship. The list goes on and on, but the goal remains the same — creating a healthier version of love for your partner, and yourself.
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