I am no stranger to people talking to me about their relationships. Human psychology and how people interact with each other have always fascinated me, so I enjoy the conversation.
I am seeing more of a trend lately, though. Genuine, goodhearted, beautiful people (inside and out) who feel taken advantage of, and taken for granted. Because they are.
Unhealthy relationships seem to be growing more and more common — the types of relationships some people would call “codependent”. (Codependency, according to Wikipedia, “is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.”)
Red flags in a relationship show up when you may not be expecting them, so it’s important to pay attention.
So, what is a healthy relationship, and what does love feel like when you’re in one?
A healthy relationship is about give-and-give, not give-and-take. It’s not even 50/50, it’s more like 100/100.
There is no “part-time” relationship — you’re either in, or you’re out. But sometimes, our judgment gets clouded. We really care about the person we’re with so we’re willing to do everything for them. But a good sign of a solid relationship is if they’re willing to do the same for you in return (without you asking for it).
How do you know when you’re in a healthy relationship vs. an unhealthy one? When is enough, enough?
Here are seven major warning signs:
1. You’re smiling less when you’re alone.
The one person you can’t hide your feelings from is yourself. It’s easy to convince those around us that we’re happy with the situation we’re in and with our partner.
Of course, no relationship is 100 percent perfect, but if you begin to feel down when they’re not around (and not because you’re missing them), this could be a sign of your true feelings coming to the surface. The only way to lead a happy, fulfilling life is to first be true to yourself, and what you want and need.
2. You’re even reading this article in the first place.
Even though it is difficult for us to sift through our own emotions at times, it is an integral part of a happy life and relationship.
We are the only ones who truly know what we’re feeling inside our own heart and mind, and if you find hesitancy like this poking through your consciousness, it’s probably a red flag.
Reciprocity is key, and if you’re questioning whether or not your partner is putting in their best effort, that’s a significant relationship red flag.
3. You feel emotionally exhausted.
A healthy relationship should enhance your life, not complicate your life. You should feel energized by the other persons’ presence in your life. Inspired. Motivated. Excited.
If you are mentally and emotionally drained, you may be sacrificing your own well-being for the sake of an unhealthy relationship.
4. You’re losing sight of yourself.
Do you feel like more of a servant than a partner? If you are always working to make your partner happy but rarely or never see the effort reciprocated, it’s very easy to lose sight of your own wants and needs because you’ve become too caught up in theirs.
I’m all for being loving and giving at all stages of a relationship, but it’s important to make sure that it goes both ways.
5. There would be voids if it wasn’t for you.
Voids in things to do together, voids in physical intimacy, voids in conversation.
If you are always the one who is suggesting activities, initiating physical contact, or taking care of things around the house, then you probably already realize that you’re carrying the relationship and giving too much of yourself away.
Happy, healthy relationships are a team — and like any good team, each player has their strengths which fit together like puzzle pieces with the other players to create a strong partnership. If one player doesn’t carry their weight, the team will lose.
6. You jumped into a commitment before the relationship was ready.
I’ve seen people dive headfirst into a relationship with someone, swear off dating anyone else right away, and end up hurt. They think that giving their entire being to the other person will make them return the sentiment and love. It doesn’t. It needs to come naturally from both sides.
7. You worry about losing them, so you keep trying harder.
If we begin to feel someone slowly slipping away from us, some of us may find it natural to try harder and to put more effort in to keep them around. Oftentimes, this does the exact opposite and pushes them away. That’s the foundation of an unhealthy relationship and a major red flag.
This is where it’s key for the relationship to have healthy communication. Taking guesses at what might “fix” a problem is simply a band-aid solution. If something is wrong, we need to have the maturity and discipline to discuss it, no matter how difficult it may be.
While relationships do often take work, they shouldn’t feel like work. If your interactions with your partner are forced and don’t feel natural or fulfilling, then this is an instinct that shouldn’t be ignored.
Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t appreciate you.
Value your time, your body, and most of all, your heart. Stop giving these things to people who don’t deserve them. There will be someone who comes along and accepts you for you… if you have the discipline to only accept the love you truly deserve.
James Michael Sama is an award-winning Boston-based blogger on the topics of dating and relationships. He writes and speaks on the topics of chivalry, romance, and happiness throughout the country, and has been featured repeatedly in news segments, talk shows, and mainstream radio.
This article was originally published at JamesMSama.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.