Relationships are a vital part of our existence because we need them to thrive. There is no one person on the planet that doesn’t have a relationship with somebody else. Relationships can range from work to family. Every day we come in contact with people, an exchange of some sort happens. In every sphere of the relationship spectrum, we need to know if we are in a healthy environment or not.

For example, a boss telling you to tweak numbers on a report that stakeholders are going to review or a boss, who makes sexual gestures at you is a sign that you are in an unhealthy work environment. A family member who only comes to you when they are in trouble indicates that you are being taken advantage of. The focus here is on romantic relationships. So what does a healthy romantic relationship look like? 

A healthy relationship is one where both parties involved in the relationship are free to be the best version of themselves, without it being detrimental to each person involved. If you are in a healthy relationship, then you are in a thriving environment. You are not afraid of your partner, you are free to be yourself, and you are not scared to speak about certain things that may bother you. Both parties lift each other up; they help each other achieve their goals/dreams. They can have disagreements without hitting below the belt. In an argument, it’s not about who wins, but about how an issue can be resolved. 

There is often no selfishness, and there is also no isolation involved in such relationships. Close friends and families are involved to a degree in these types of relationships. Cheating, lying or secrets are usually absent in a healthy relationship. The people involved try as much as possible, to be open and honest with each other. There is also no abuse of any sort in this kind of relationship, be it emotional, physical or verbal, such does not exist within that environment. No one is violent or controlling; if you see that the other person is always trying to control or monitor your every move, chances are you are involved in an unhealthy relationship.

A healthy relationship should leave you better off than you started, if you are always fighting, feeling depleted, used or underappreciated, take a step back and evaluate your situation. A healthy relationship involves two people who are full of joy, who are not codependent, who want to build each other up, rather than tear each other down. If you find out that you have no joy, peace or laughter, or if you find out you are always crying and depressed, in other words, if the other person brings you more sorrow instead of joy or peace, then that relationship isn’t healthy.  

So how can you tell if you are in a toxic environment?

The chances of you being in an unhealthy relationship are high, if your partner is violent, disrespectful, a serial cheater, or a pathological liar. If they isolate you from your friends and family and you have no peace when you think about or are around them, then it’s safe to say you are in a toxic situation. According to an article published on the University of Washington’s website (, it argues that you are in an unhealthy relationship if you are putting the other person first and neglecting yourself in the process, if you feel the pressure to change who you are for the other person (I’ve experienced this), and if sexual boundaries are not respected.

It goes on to say, if you notice arguments are not resolved fairly, if you have no common friends, and if your partner attempts to control how you dress and criticizes your behavior, then you are in a toxic environment. Now all of these traits, if found in your relationship, can do a number on your self-esteem. I have experienced such behaviors with men, and it brought my self-esteem to an all-time low. I no longer believed in myself, I didn’t see myself as beautiful or even smart, because of months of being in an unhealthy relationship.

A healthy relationship should build you up and not tear you down. A healthy relationship should boost your morale and make you feel like you are the best thing that happened to this world since sliced bread. You should be able to go home from work, get re-energized and go out there to face the world again. Healthy relationships also help us to be very effective in the workplace. If you are constantly abused at home, when you go to work, you won’t be able to perform at your best.

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As humans, we are not perfect beings, and because of this, there is no perfect relationship out there. But because a relationship isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy. Healthy relationships need to be worked on and cultivated, just as any other thing in life, it doesn’t  happen without effort. If you find yourself in a situation where you are questioning the actions of your partner, the advice here is to seek help. Don’t suffer in silence or isolation. Some relationships, if worked on can be salvaged. But in cases where the person you are involved with has become violent, it is better for you to leave; nothing of that sort is worth your life.

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