Today I would like to talk about the difference between healthy and toxic relationships, as well as the difference between a healthy relationship and unconditional love. I would like to start with my personal experience, so you know why I consider myself as well versed in this topic.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationship: My Experience
I am a psychologist. I’ve been learning about relationships since September 2001 when I started my degree in psychology back in Russia. Receiving an official degree didn’t stop me from learning. I was expanding my knowledge every day. Every psychological method and approach that I’ve learned was about relationships: the relationship with yourself, romantic relationships, generational conflicts, toxic relationships, you name it.
Relationships is one of the most complicated topics in psychology. This is something that can harm us and cause irreversible trauma and yet, relationships are something that can HEAL us, fulfill us and make us kind and the most compassionate human being.
Personally, I was raised in a broken family where my parents were constantly fighting since I was 3 years old. My father cheated on my mom and he had a drinking problem. I remember running after him on multiple occasions when he was chasing my mom threatening to kill her.
My mom was too emotionally involved with my dad’s behavior, and she was very young when they got married. So, she didn’t reflect on my emotions at all. My mom didn’t help me to process my fears. I was on my own. I was a neglected child who was terrified every night lying in bed and hoping that my Dad would come home sober.
My parents divorced when I was 11. My mom actually blamed me for not getting the divorce earlier because I had asked her not to when I was years old .
Of course, as an adult I ended up in a toxic relationship myself. My 1st toxic relationship started in high school. Then another one in college. Then another one in the university. Then I married a toxic person. Once I told my ex-husband that I wanted to be a motivational speaker and he laughed at me. I buried my dream somewhere deep inside of me for 10 years and became a web designer instead.
Because of my ex-husband I am living in America. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for that. All toxic relationships have their good parts and happy moments. That’s one of the reasons why people don’t leave their abusers.
After the divorce, I’ve met an incredible guy who turned out to be a narcissist. Another toxic relationship.
I spent years in personal therapy, trying different approaches, personally experiencing the theory that I have learned during my psychology degree. I was a member of various healing groups as well.
This year, in January 2022, I celebrated 5 years of togetherness with my husband. I can proudly call myself one of the happiest women in the world, who was able to end a toxic cycle of getting into wrong relationships and to find her Mr. Right. I am sincerely happy in my marriage. I have a beautiful one year old daughter and 2 stepdaughters. I am back to my dream and I am living it right now. I am sharing my knowledge with you.
Every relationship is unique. Today, we are talking about the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
What is a Healthy Relationship?
1. The Balance Between Giving and Receiving
A healthy relationship is a relationship where both people feel loved, cared for, appreciated, respected and valued. If we are talking about romantic relationships, friendships, or families – there should always be a balance between “giving” and “receiving.” Giving and receiving is the key to any non-work-related relationships.
It is a little bit different for work or business relationships. But even at work: you provide some type of service and you are getting paid for in the amount that was agreed upon. It might not be 50/50 of giving and receiving but there is still some type of exchange.
So, the balance between giving and receiving is a foundation of healthy relationships.
2. Healthy Boundaries
A healthy relationship has healthy boundaries. When a person constantly choses their friends, kids, parents or work over you and you feel left alone, then it means that boundaries are crossed and you are getting hurt.
3. Emotionally Mature Relationships
A healthy relationship is an emotionally mature relationship. When one person demands constant help and attention, then this is a parent-child relationship. This is not an emotionally mature adult relationship.
4. Both People Are Equal
A healthy relationship is a relationship where both people are equal. It doesn’t mean that they have to make the same amount of money or that they have to divide home chores equally (as many people might think).
An equal relationship means that both people are just as important. You and your partner, or you and your sister, or you and your friend… BOTH have equal rights to express their opinions, to have their own interests, and to have their own needs.
Equal relationship means that your needs, feelings and emotions are as important as the needs, feelings and emotions of the other person.
Healthy Relationship vs Unconditional Love
If you truly love someone, then you would do anything for them. This is the motto of a toxic relationship. This idea is often used in movies, and movies usually have happy endings. But a movie is a fairytale, an imagination of a writer. Unfortunately, in real life, people often confuse an unconditional love for a toxic relationship.
You can truly love the other person ONLY if you love yourself first. If you allow another person to disrespect your opinions, to cheat on you, lie to you, force you to do things that you don’t like, then you don’t love yourself enough. You don’t respect yourself. Being in love and letting the other person abuse your feelings is a toxic detrimental path to self-destruction. Staying in a relationship in fear that no one else would love you, means that YOU don’t love yourself.
You can ask, what if this abusive person is my mother, my father or another relative? I would reply, “Even if this is your ONLY relative, it doesn’t mean that you should lose your self-worthiness because of this person”. I truly admire your desire to save your relationship and I will be here to guide you through this process, and help you heal, but the main person doing the work is YOU.
When you are thinking about unconditional love – think about yourself. Do you treat yourself as you treat the other person? Are you truly respecting, protecting, and taking care of your Inner Child? Are you following your own interests and true desires? Do you hear a supportive loving voice inside or do you criticize yourself often, and not allow yourself to make mistakes? Do you take care of your own body?
Give yourself the permission to truly love yourself. Allow yourself to see yourself as a beautiful human being. Not perfect but nonetheless beautiful.
Let’s do an exercise right now. Take a deep breath and write in the comments 3 words: I love myself, and notice what you feel. Do it right now.
Did you do it?
If not, ask yourself – Why not? Why couldn’t you write that you love yourself? Is there something wrong with this phrase?
If you did the exercise – Congratulations! Continue telling yourself that you love yourself every day. Do it before falling asleep. Do it for the next 7 days and then come back to the video and share your amazing transformation with me.
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