MUST READ: How Healthy/Toxic Is Your Relationship?

5 min

Black couple


There could be different definitions or assumptions of what a healthy relationship is. Good health in its general sense is often attributed to a healthy body and a sound mind. It will therefore not be strange to ask if your relationship as an important area of your life is sound enough to bring you comfort and satisfaction. Relationships are hard, but so is life and every relationship is unique and dynamic with its challenges peculiar to their nature, structure and the people involved. Passionate/romantic love relationships are fleeting.

We experienced the “high” of a new relationship, and desperately cling to it when it seems to fade away. And except in rare partnerships, it does fade…or rather change. Fading passion in any relationship (short of abusive ones) can be regained when it is worked on.

Sometimes, moving onto the next partner isn’t any more likely to be better the next time around as it’s almost certain one will fall back on old patterns and the cycle begins -wild passion, sex, and initial crazy bonding pass… and it will pass.

What a healthy or toxic relationship is will differ from person to person. There are things people would enjoy and celebrate if done with and for them. These include the way they are treated, respected, valued and presented in public places and that to them makes their relationship a healthy one; anything apart from these makes their relationship a toxic one.

A healthy relationship should be devoid of blackmails, emotional abuse and threatening behaviour (more like trying to hold the relationship hostage). When one person is always threatening the commitment of the relationship when he/she is ‘constructively’ criticised, it creates unnecessary drama. ‘I’ll kill myself if you leave me’…if the person really wanted to die, they won’t communicate their intention in the first place. It doesn’t help in any way.

It’s crucial for both people in a relationship to know that negative thoughts and feelings can be communicated safely to one another without it threatening the relationship itself. If one cannot communicate what he/she feels because of the fear of losing the relationship, the only thing it breeds is resentment. When he/she cannot bottle it up anymore, they pack and go (when the blackmailer was not expecting it).

Blaming our partners for how we feel/what we’re going through emotionally is a subtle form of selfishness. True happiness cannot be derived from a partner; it comes from within, so if you’re feeling crap and you feel it another person’s responsibility to make you happy, you’ve got it all wrong. One can always support the other but any sacrifices made should be an autonomous choice and not seen as an expectation. We have to take responsibility for our own emotions and expect others to be responsible for theirs. There’s a subtle yet important difference between being supportive of your partner and carrying their whole drama on your shoulders.

Having a healthy relationship should not in any case be the responsibility of one person who is meant to feel guilty each time things go wrong in the union. Yes! it’s good to take responsibility for your life but heaping blames on yourself will not do much good to the relationship neither will it make the other person love you more.

A healthy relationship solves conflicts and real issues facing it. A toxic one covers the issues with superficial pleasures like going on outings and buying something nice for each other. Not only does it brush the real problem under the rug (where it will always re-emerge from even worse the next time), but it sets an unhealthy precedent within the relationship.

Imagine that whenever a woman gets angry at her boyfriend/husband, the man ‘solves’ the issue by buying the woman something nice, or taking her to a nice restaurant or something. Not only does this give the woman unconscious incentive to find more reasons to be upset with the man, but it also gives the man absolutely no incentive to actually be accountable for the problems in the relationship.

You just end up with a man who feels like a cash machine, and an incessantly bitter woman who feels unheard. Doesn’t solve anything, does it? Communication is the real deal here. Deal with the problem. If it’s a broken trust, talk about what it will take to rebuild it. Someone feels ignored or unappreciated? Talk about ways to restore those feelings of appreciation. There’s nothing wrong with doing nice things for a significant other after a fight to show solidarity and to reaffirm commitment. But one should never use gifts or fancy things to replace dealing with the underlying emotional issues.

Respect, in my opinion, carries a relationship far than the love shared. It’s even weird and sound absurd to ‘claim to love someone and blatantly disrespect them’. Love and disrespect does not go hand in hand. You respect people you love and anyone who is respected wants to show more love in return.

When a woman feels loved, she gives more respect to the man and a man who feels respected goes out of his way to shower more love. When one partner feels superior and sees himself/herself as doing the other person a ‘favour’ by remaining in the union, arrogance will set in soon. Having respect for each other does not entail saying yes to every whim and caprice of the other. You can disagree with things but the manner of your disagreement will speak of the level of respect you hold for him/her. Respect is an all-time secret of happy healthy relationships.

GC Staff Yaa