Six Signs Your Relationship Is Bad for You

By Shiri Ourian
By Shiri Ourian

1/1/2008 12:29:37 PM -

Dating too many fried foods is bad for your health. Smoking cigarettes is bad for your health. And some relationships are bad for your health, too — your emotional health. There are researchers and parents to tell us what foods and drugs are bad for us. But how do you know when a relationship is bad for you? It's not easy.

Bottom line, an unhealthy relationship will usually make you feel unsafe or bad about yourself. Check out these warning signs:

1. Disrespect

Insults, putdowns, and teasing are all forms of disrespect. That also includes digs about your race or culture or religion. Disrespect can sound something like "You say the stupidest things," or "You look fat in that dress," or "You're nothing without me." No matter what it sounds like, disrespect hurts — probably longer than the relationship because it can do major damage to your self-esteem, which can last for a long time.

2. Jealousy

Jealousy is bad news for a relationship. Some people mistake jealousy for love. "My ex used to get jealous if I talked to other guys. I thought it was cute that he cared about me so much that he wanted me all to himself, but after a while it got to be suffocating," explains Jenna, 16.

There's nothing cute about jealousy. A person who is jealous doubts the other person's love or commitment. Jenna's ex didn't trust her. If your partner doesn't want you talking to other people or doesn't like you to hang out with your friends — girls or guys — there's a major trust problem in your relationship.

3. Lies, Lies, and More Lies

Telling lies or being lied to always spells trouble. Small lies usually lead to big lies, and many lies can destroy a relationship. Honesty is essential for a healthy relationship, and if you can't tell the one you love the truth, there's something wrong. Some people think keeping the truth from a partner is OK. What she doesn't know won't hurt her, right? Wrong. Keeping secrets isn't being honest either. Some things to think about: why are you doing something that you have to lie about? Are you so scared of your partner's reaction that you have to keep it to yourself?

4. No Fair!

Anthony and Vanessa of Accra, Ghana dated for four months. They fought a lot about little things — like why he didn't call her and why she was always late. These little fights escalated when neither one could admit they were wrong. And sometimes even when Anthony did admit he was wrong and apologized, Vanessa held it against him for weeks! Sound familiar? If you or your partner can't admit your mistakes and expect forgiveness, your relationship could be causing you a lot of unnecessary anger and heartache.

5. Control Freak

Who's the boss of you? You are. No one has the right to tell you what to do, where to go, or how to dress. Jessie had a feeling things weren't right in her relationship when her boyfriend started to make her ask his permission to go places without him. Another clue she got was that he got to decide everything about what they did — from which movie they saw to when she could work at her job. Jessie was right. She and her ex did not see each other as equals. In a healthy relationship, no one is in charge of the other person.

6. Can You Hear Me Now?

You'll need more than good reception on your celly for good communication in a relationship. Talking openly about your feelings with your partner and listening to each other without judgment is what good communication is about. If you have a hard time talking to your partner about your relationship or your feelings because you're worried about being judged or being yelled at, that's a sure sign your relationship is unhealthy.

If you're having doubts about your relationship or if one or more of these warning signs describe your relationship, talk to someone you trust about it. Sometimes having an outsider's perspective is helpful. Many couples work through their issues, but it takes hard work and commitment from both people. Some even go to couples counseling. And sometimes, as hard as it can be, it's best to throw in the towel and recognize your relationship might be more trouble than it's worth.