Healthy vs. Unhealty Relationships

Relationships come in different packages such as those within a family unit and many outside the family unit through social interactions. These relationships all come with their own set of dynamics that are perceived differently from one individual to the next which can often pose as a challenge when one is trying to decipher if it is a healthy, or not so healthy one. Often a deciding factor about a relationship’s suitability is looking at any unexpected consequences and how it is impacting the persons state of health and wellness.

           When examining the characteristics of our most intimate relationships, those with our spouse, romantic partner, children, immediate family members, and close friends, we are looking at how they fulfill our needs and how well we play a role in fulfilling their needs. Further, it is important to observe whether the emotional attachment is appropriate, if the emotional availability is present, and if the behavioral interdependence, or mutual impact/influence on one another’s life is growing at a healthy rate. When there is mutual reward within these relationships there is a knowing that feelings can be shared freely, just as worries or concerns can be. There is an appropriate level of affirmation around individual worth. And there is the security of knowing that there is someone there that will care and take care in times of need.

           Emotional availability, accountability, and self-nurturance within these intimate relationships are critical factors that can have great impact in either a positive or negative fashion. For instance, if the ability to give and receive on an emotional level comes without fear of rejection or being hurt, responsibility for choices and actions are able to be placed where the accountability truly lies, and there is a realistic conception of possessing the ability to make good choices, balance physical and emotional needs, and a healthy appreciation regarding self-worth, there is a good chance that these relationships will remain balanced and satisfying.

           On the other hand, and all too often, what evolves within relationships is an overdependence upon each other. In romantic relationships people lose their sense of self, abandon social ties for those of their new love interest becoming reliant upon the other to define them as a being. A trait typically developed out of low self-esteem and insecurities formed earlier in life that contributes to feelings of uneasiness and jealousy when their partner maintains their individuality and has relationships with people that are perceived as a threat. The parent child relationship also can suffer from this overdependence. Most commonly observed is the parents fear of losing control as the child progresses through the stages of life and development and begins to exercise their autonomy to make personal decisions, good or poor in nature, and ventures away from the home. On the flip side, a familial unit that is overly enmeshed, the maturing child will find it difficult to function appropriately outside of the home and be overly reliant upon the parents and other family members to make healthy decisions and create an independent life on their own.

           How we manage and maintain our interpersonal relationships can directly impact our health and wellness. People that experience unconditional love and relationships built on trust, empathy, and genuine caring are less likely to become overwhelmed or distressed and take better care of their physical and emotional health thereby reducing the susceptibility for disease. Where individuals lacking in self-nurturance, feelings of affirmation, and with poor social support tend to have lengthy stretches of depression and high levels of acute stress which directly contribute to a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, substance misuse or abuse, and an increased mortality rate.

           The fact is that any relationship created out of good intentions possesses dependability, predictability, genuineness, empathy, unconditional positive regard, relational connectedness, affirmation, nurturance, and emotional intimacy. The relationships that withstand turmoil and trials do so from placing importance on the maintaining of each element.

Published by Tricia Parido

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