Use these guidelines to contrast a healthy relationship with one that's at risk.
When your relationship is working well:
- You like each other and you say so. You keep your friendship warm and lively.
- Complements and encouragement are plentiful. Criticism is not what you’re there for.
- You give each other credit when things go well. When things go wrong you put it down to bad luck or a mistake rather than your partner’s deliberate effort to hurt you.
- If it matters to one of you, it matters in the relationship. You make room for each other’s views even when you disagree. You don’t have to shrink to fit in.
- You spend more time looking at your own part in a problem than in blaming your partner for their part.
- When you say or do something that hurts your partner, you say sorry and mean it.
- Conflict is about sorting an issue, not bad mouthing a person.
- You keep connected with each other. You know the detail of each others lives and hopes. You tell each other what you really feel, even if it’s hard.
Warning signs / critical factors that undermine relationships
All relationships have ups and downs. Some of these patterns will feature in most relationships at times. But if these patterns are taking over your relationship they will damage you and those you love.
- Criticism comes easier than complements.
- Complaints shift from what happened to who’s to blame and why they’re bad.
- Sneering, sniping and putdowns become a regular thing.
- Coldness, sarcasm and the silent treatment are familiar.
- Acting mean is more common than meaning well.
- Proving you’re right and they’re wrong has become the point, sorting things out is lost in the past.
- Conversations feel full of attacks and ambushes. It feels pointless or risky to say what you want so you stop saying much at all.
- The relationship feels like it’s mostly about problems and they’re hard, maybe impossible to fix.
If some of these patterns are troubling your relationship, talking to a Relationships Aotearoa counsellor can help. Go to contact us to choose a counsellor that suits you. If it feels like there might be more risk of physical harm or violence look at Are you at risk? or go to www.areyouok.org.nz
Download your own copy of Healthy Signs, Warning Signs here