Psychological insights on relationships: rejections, breakups, making relationships happy, unhealthy dynamics, and general psychology.

The Definition Of A Unhealthy Relationship

What conditions does a relationship have to meet for you to declare it unhealthy.

A man and a woman look at each other
  1. It should last for a period of time (at least six months) before we can declare it unhealthy. Anything less may be our or our partner’s inability to adapt.
  2. The relationship has not progressed during this time but has regressed, even if one partner adapted.
  3. Partners could not find compromises or a middle ground.
  4. One or both partners are desperate for the relationship.
  5. One or both partners are desperate because of the relationship.
  6. Even in calmer phases, they contemplate or fantasize about ending it due to a specific event or their partner’s character.
  7. In quiet phases, they anxiously await new problematic events.
  8. One or both partners derive pleasure from causing pain to the other.
  9. One partner is under the control of the other (or there’s mutual control).
  10. One or both partners’ lives suffer because all their time and energy are directed towards fixing the relationship.
  11. One or both partners endure a sense of injustice (the injustice inflicted should be reassessed).
  12. One of the partners continuously feels guilty and wrong about the relationship.

There are two reasons for staying in this type of relationship:

  • A need for such a relationship
  • A fundamental misunderstanding of human nature.

This unhealthiness is solvable in some cases, but in others, it isn’t.

Group of people


You can read more about the need for such a relationship and the dynamics of that relationship here, but in short, if you find yourself in such a relationship, my recommendation is to talk to a specialist (psychotherapist or counsellor) about why it is acceptable to you. We must be aware of the fact that things do not happen by chance in our lives, but rather we find ourselves in such environments and situations for certain internal reasons.

The reasons why someone wants an unhealthy relationship are unconscious and subconscious in nature. It could be identification with some objects from childhood, wrongly learned love, the need for aggression, etc.

Anyway, as unhealthy as they may seem, some of these elements may be mutual dynamics that both partners find necessary.

Of course, there is a chance that you are completely unaware of human nature and that you have naively entered into a toxic relationship. If that’s the case, read this article where I write about which relationships are changeable and which are not. There, I divided the relationships into five categories of volatility. It’s useful to guide yourself on whether to stay in that relationship and whether things will improve or only get worse for you.

Man Successfully Overcome rejection

Whether a relationship is good or bad is often measured against widely accepted standards that can be defined when emotions are not involved. If emotions are involved in the measurement, you will not get accurate results, whether you are in a bad relationship or something else is going on.

Two important instances for understanding unhealthy relationships are:

  • A relationship may not meet general criteria for health, but it might be the only kind that both partners desire. It is essential to understand that people may be unhappy, inviting disrespect and allowing control due to their psychological choices and needs.
  • Caution should also be exercised with the power imbalance syndrome, as it implies that a person with more power controls someone with less power. Because of this, the problem in the relationship is often attributed to the person who seems more powerful. However, it’s common for the less powerful person to exert control in their ways.
Unhealthy relationship; couple

Before declaring your relationship bad, it’s crucial to consider whether you’re doing so:

  1. Because you want your partner to be wrong,
  2. You participate in that dynamic due to your psychological and emotional needs, or
  3. You genuinely find yourself in an unhealthy relationship.

I emphasize this because many clients I work with believe that they are in a bad relationship and that their partner is responsible for it. But they are unconsciously trying to sabotage relationships to fulfill some internal demand, such as a fear of commitment, the need for aggression, etc.

In almost all cases, we rarely find ourselves in toxic relationships by accident.

Much more frequently, we are in them because:

  • We want and seek such relationships (subconsciously and unconsciously).
  • They are acceptable to us.
  • We want to change our partner.
Man and woman are fighting

My recommendation, if you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, is to first consult with a professional, counselor, or therapist to evaluate your relationship and your role in it.

If your relationship is unhealthy for sure because you unconsciously expect it (but consciously no longer want it), it means that every future relationship will follow the same dynamics. You will attract people who provide what you unconsciously need, reject those who don’t, and then, knowing consciously that those things are not good for you, become angry, hurt, and give up on relationships.

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