15 Signs Your Partner's Love For You May Not Be Healthy
Love is different for everyone. There's really no right way to go about it. But it's important to keep in mind that there is a difference between healthy and unhealthy love.
"Healthy relationships should enhance your life and elevate the happiness you already feel by yourself," eharmony's chief of advice Jeannie Assimos, tells Bustle. When love is healthy, it should "uplift you" and inspire you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.
A healthy partner will allow you to be independent and pursue your passions outside of the relationship. They'll make time for you but won't expect you to cancel plans in order to be with them. "When you have a healthy love, you are constantly learning and growing both together and apart," Assimos says. Basically, it's the type of love that's sustainable and can last a lifetime.
On the contrary, when someone's love for you isn't healthy, it may affect your sense of safety, stability, or intimacy in the relationship. If taken to the extreme, an unhealthy love may cause someone to act in ways that are abusive.
Sometimes unhealthy love can be masked behind romantic gestures, so it's not always easy to spot. So here are some signs your partner's love for you may not be healthy, according to experts.
1. They Can't Handle Anything On Their Own Without Consulting You
"Ultimately, life can throw things your way that are difficult," licensed clinical social worker, Meg Josephson, tells Bustle. "If [your partner is] unable to stand on their own two feet and don't believe they are capable without you, it's a red flag."
There's nothing wrong with asking for help. But it's important to remember that you're both adults who had lives and solved your own problems before you ever got together. While you should go to each other about the big stuff like a move or a change of jobs, you are not their parent.
According to Josephson, helping them to maintain their independence while being in the relationship is key here. "By encouraging them to develop their own interests and relationships outside of your relationship, you can help them to develop parts of themselves so that the dynamic isn't so codependent," she says.
2. They Want To Do Everything With You
While it may be flattering to have someone who wants to be with you 24/7, it can quickly turn annoying if they're not giving you any space to do your own thing or spend time with other people. "Besides being unhealthy, it's ultimately unattractive to be with someone who has no life outside of your shared life," Josephson says.
If this is the case, it's important to set boundaries. Let your partner know that you need some space to do your own thing every now and then. You can even encourage your partner to pursue their own interests or suggest for them to have a weekend away with friends. If they refuse, get angry, or start giving you ultimatums, they may be emotionally abusive, and this is not the type of relationship anyone should be in.
3. You're Making A Lot Of Compromises To Meet Their Needs
"Love between two people is ultimately a partnership wherein both compromise to benefit and support each other," Josephson says. It isn't about meeting the needs of just one person. If you feel like your needs are taking a backseat to your partner's, you need to have a conversation about it. Let them know that your needs are just as important as theirs are. Then, watch for changes. "If they are unresponsive to your needs, it may be time to cut them loose," she says. They may only "love" you because the relationship works for them.
4. You Don't Want The Same Things
While some major wants and needs change over time, like getting married or having kids, others don't. "If you know that your non-negotiables don't align with your partner's, you may love each other but might not be able to live happily together," Josephson says. If you don't agree on what you want for your relationship, it's always going to be a sore spot. Although you may love each other now, having a major disagreement like this will only create toxicity in the relationship as time goes on. If you really don't have the same end goal in mind, you may need to reconsider if this is really the right relationship for you. Sometimes love isn't enough to make a relationship successful.
5. They're Still Figuring Things Out
The only thing worse than being with someone who doesn't want the same things as you is being in a relationship with someone who hasn't figured out what the future holds for the two of you. "Perhaps they need to take time to themselves to figure out what they want," Josephson says. "But taking you along for the ride is unhealthy, and at it's worst, incredibly selfish."
It's unfair to you to be strung along with no guarantee of stability. Your partner may love you and want you in their life, but if you're stuck in limbo waiting for them to decide if they're willing to make a commitment to you, Josephson says, it's not healthy for you. If this is the case, you need to have a conversation with them about what they actually want. If you're clear with your needs and they're still wishy-washy about things, they may not be the one for you.
6. They Want To Be Your Everything
One sign that a person's love for you isn't healthy is if they isolate you from your support network. "It's important to have multiple sources of support, especially close family members and friends who may know you in other ways than your partner," Josephson says.
Even if said jokingly, someone "wanting you to themselves" can quickly turn into an ultimatum of "me or them." As Josephson says, this reflects insecurity and a desire to control you. If your partner wants to be everything for you, try to figure out why they're so concerned about you spending time and being close with other people in your life. "It's possible they just need to feel prioritized and be reassured," Josephson says. "If not, it's possible that don't have a healthy view of what love truly looks like."
7. They Love Posting About You And Your Relationship All Over Social Media
When your partner's love for you is unhealthy, Josephson says, their self-worth may be directly tied to your attention and admiration of them. If they're feeling insecure about the relationship, their social media habits will show it.
According to a 2014 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, people who have high “relationship visibility" tend to have an anxious attachment style. High relationship visibility is the extent to which we make relationships part of our public personas. When you have anxious attachment, you'll need a lot more reassurance from your partner in order to feel secure. Having regular check-ins with your partner about how things in the relationship are going can be helpful and reassuring for them. But since attachment issues stem from childhood, therapy isn't a bad option.
8. They Question Everything You Do
"It's cute when your partner wants to know what you're up too," Assimos says. "But it's not healthy for them to question everything you do and where you are." This could indicate controlling and other potentially abusive behavior. Asking what you're up to and maybe even where you're going is OK, if they're concerned about your safety. But if they're bombarding you with other unnecessary questions like who's going to be there or why you have to go in the first place, Assimos says that's obsession and not love.
9. They're Not Interested In Meeting Your Friends
"This is extremely unhealthy," Assimos says. "Your friends are a part of your family and bring you a lot of joy. Your partner should want to be around those people."
Maybe your partner is shy or isn't the type to socialize with people they don't know. But they should at least make the effort to do so because it makes you happy. If they're unwilling to meet your friends or they try to do anything they can to avoid it, figure out why. Talk to them about it, and if they give you the excuse that they're only interested in hanging out with you, this may be an early warning sign of them trying to isolate you from those you love.
10. Your Friends And Family Don't Like Your Partner
"This is an easy-to-miss sign because who cares if your friends don't love your partner? They don't know them the way you do," Assimos says. But the thing is, they do know you. Even if you don't see that your partner's love for you is toxic, your friends and family will pick it up. So it's always important to listen to their worries and take them into account. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide if you're going to stay with your partner or not.
11. They Shut Down When Things Get Tough Or Uncomfortable
"If your partner shuts down in an argument, or when you truly want to talk about something that has been bothering you, it is a sign that their love for you might not be healthy," Caitlyn Paltsios, a relationship expert from Grapevine Gossip, tells Bustle.
In a healthy relationship communication is key. But if your partner refuses to discuss the "hard things," Paltsios says it may mean that your relationship isn't healthy for either of you. They may not feel completely safe to openly discuss their feelings, or they may not know how to resolve conflict in a healthy way.
12. Your Partner Says Or Does Things That Make You Feel Like A Child
A healthy relationship is also a partnership. "You are in a relationship together, on an even playing field, no one partner is above the other," Paltsios says. If your partner says or does things that make you feel like you're being babied, they make not respect you as an equal. Some people are naturally nurturing and don't realize that they're babying their partner. If this is the case, you should bring it up with your them in a kind way.
13. Your Partner Is "Allowed" To Do Things That You Can't
"If you are in a relationship where your partner is very concerned about your actions but is laid back about their own, this could be an unhealthy relationship," Paltsios says. When you're in a healthy relationship, the same "rules" apply to both of you. If you notice that your partner criticizes you for the exact same things they do, call them out on it. Get clear on the types of behaviors that are acceptable and unacceptable for your relationship. If they're unwilling to change or they become defensive over their attitude, you may have a controlling partner.
14. They Say Rude Things To You Because They "Love" You
You should always be honest with your partner, and they should do the same for you. But that honesty should never be mean or cross the line in any way. Backhanded "compliments" or jokes at your expense are not cool. According to Assimos, it's important to make sure that your partner isn't rude all the time. If you bring up that certain comments are hurtful, they should stop. If they don't and make the excuse that they're just being honest because they love you, that isn't real love. When someone actually loves you, they'll apologize and respect your wishes.
15. They Do Things That Make You Doubt Their Commitment To You
"Whether its threatening to break up with you when they have an inkling of a doubt or actually going through the motions only to backtrack, it's extremely detrimental to your mental health to be in a 'yo-yo' relationship," Josephson says. Some people legitimately struggle with commitment and get scared. But they need to take care of that before they say they love you or start talking about the future, only to break up with you because it's "too much" for them at the time.
If you've broken up, got back together, had a serious talk about their commitment to you and things still don't change, it's time for you to reconsider the relationship. They're clearly not offering you the kind of love and stability you deserve, Josephson says. In this case, it may be time to find it in someone else.
If someone doesn't have a lot of experience with healthy relationships, they may show "love" in unhealthy ways. Being patient, working with them, and having open communication can help to create a more healthy dynamic in your relationship. And if things become toxic, it may be time to leave.
Editor's Note: If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.