We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, onto today’s topic: signs you have an unhealthy relationship with love.
Q: “My best friend recently sat me down and gently told me she’s concerned about my relationship with love. I’ve always been a relationship person, but I thought that was a healthy thing. Sure, I’m not as happy when I’m single as I am when I’m in a relationship, but isn’t that normal? Who doesn’t want to be in a relationship? Since she mentioned it, I have started trying to evaluate my behaviors, but it’s a hard thing to do on my own. How do I know if I have an unhealthy relationship with love? Is this something I should see a therapist about?”
A; Thanks for the question! Love is perhaps the most complex human emotion, and most of us struggle with it in one way or another. I really commend you for being willing to take an honest look at your relationship with love. You’re right that sometimes it’s hard to objectively evaluate our own behaviors, so to answer your other question, yes, this is definitely something you can and should — discuss with a therapist. In the meantime, here are 11 potential signs that you may have an unhealthy relationship with love.
You Have A Complicated History With Love
The ways we experienced love as children deeply impact the love we look for love as adults. What was your relationship like with your parents? Were you shown unconditional love as a child? Or did you need to be or act a certain way in order to be loved? How was love expressed in your family? Do you see any ways that your history might be negatively influencing your adult relationships? This is obviously a huge issue, and a good one to piece apart with a therapist. But it’s a good place for you to start evaluating.
You’re Not Happy Unless You’re In A Relationship
Probably the most obvious sign of an unhealthy relationship with love is that you’re not happy unless you’re in a relationship. Yes, plenty of people prefer being in relationships to being single. There’s no denying that love and relationships are great! But if you feel like it’s impossible for you to be happy without being in a relationship, that can be a telltale sign that you don’t have a healthy relationship with love.
You Get Anxious When You’re By Yourself
Similarly, you may have an unhealthy relationship with love if you struggle to feel comfortable when you’re on your own. Does alone time bring up fear or anxiety for you? This may come up for you even if you’re in a relationship. Maybe there’s a night where your partner doesn’t sleep over, or maybe they go on a work trip. It’s understandable to enjoy the company of a loved one, but it’s also important to feel comfortable with alone time.
Most Of Your Time & Energy Goes Into Finding Relationships
I’m guessing that this is one of the dynamics that your friend may have picked up on. Some people go to immense lengths to find romantic partners. Are you constantly, even obsessively, thumbing through Tinder and Bumble? Do you spend hours reading over bios? Do you have dates most nights of the week? Even multiple dates in a single night? Do your other activities and interests suffer because you spend so much time pursuing a relationship? Run your dating calendar by a friend, and ask them for their objective opinion about the amount of effort you’re putting into finding love.
You Choose Bad Partners
Another obvious sign of an unhealthy relationship with love is being overly willing to settle. You may be so desperate to be in a relationship or be in love that you frequently lower your standards. Do you frequently get into relationships with people that don’t seem to be good matches for you? Do you stay in relationships even as it becomes clear that the two of you aren’t compatible?
You Go Overboard To Please Your Partners
Once you’re in relationships, it’s still important to take an honest look at the amount of effort you put in. Do you find yourself going to extreme lengths to please your partners? Do you compromise your own interests, values, or morals to please your partner? Is their happiness more important to you than anything else in the world?
You Abandon Your Friendships When You’re In A Relationship
It’s pretty common and normal to drift away from your friends when you start a new relationship. There’s nothing quite like the honeymoon stage with someone brand new, and a lot of people get sucked into their own little world with their new partner. That being said, some people completely abandon their friends when they start new relationships. Have your friends complained about this before? Is this a consistent pattern for you?
You Change Who You Are For Your Partners
If you’re going to great lengths to please your partners, one consequence may be that you start to lose touch with yourself. This is another thing that friends frequently notice. The person they love seems to disappear, and gets replaced with a person they don’t recognize. You might notice yourself neglecting your own interests, and taking up all of your partner’s interests and hobbies. Maybe you stop asking for things you want, and agree to do whatever your partner wants to do.
You’re Always Pushing The Relationship Forward
Relationships have to unfold at their own natural pace. If you’re constantly trying to push your relationships into love territory, you may find that you’re always the first person to ask for monogamy, to say “I love you,” or to start talking about the future. If you’re always the one in this role, that can be a sign that you’re not taking the healthiest approach to relationships.
You Do More For Your Partners Than They Do For You
Another sign of an unhealthy relationship with love is being in imbalanced relationships. Do you give more to your partner than they give to you in return? Are you always the one compromising?
You’re Scared You're Unlovable
Fear is often the root of unhealthy relationships with love. Fear that you’ll never be able to find love. Fear that you’ll never be able to sustain love. Fear that you’re unlovable. Of course, we all have fears when it comes to love, but if your fears ever feel overwhelming or paralyzing, that’s a good sign that you need to re-evaluate your approach towards relationships.
Wishing you the best!