The Anatomy of an Unhealthy Relationship – Part 1

Most people desire a healthy, supportive, loving relationship when they choose to pair up with another person romantically. When both parties are emotionally balanced, this outcome is possible with effort and communication from both partners. However, sometimes people bring damaging personal issues or pathology into the union. An unhealthy relationship is any relationship between people that is physically, emotionally, or spiritually destructive to one or both parties, or that inhibits growth in those areas.

Verbal and emotional abuse is common to unhealthy relationships, though it isn’t always easy to detect. If you find yourself feeling inferior, incapable, or questioning your perception of reality when around your partner, this merits a closer look in your relationship dynamic. Emotional and verbal abuse can include criticisms of who you are as a person and the way you do even small or mundane tasks. This can mean name calling, but it can also come in the form of condescending “suggestions” about how to do things “right.”

Control is a key component of emotional abuse, and this can manifest in various ways. Your partner might discourage or prohibit you from seeing outside friends or family, demand an account of your day (and leave you feeling defensive about your actions), or try to talk you out of employment or educational opportunities. Intimacy can also become a battleground for control and power, with your partner either demanding intimate contact or deliberately withholding it. In emotionally abusive situations, it is common to feel like you are “walking on eggshells,” and that you can’t ask for what you want emotionally from your partner. It is also important to note that emotional abuse can develop into physical abuse.

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