Mar 20, 2012
05:22 PM

Relationships: What Is Healthy?

Relationships: What Is Healthy?

So, while I'm focusing on the various destructive aspects of intimate relationships, let me just go directly to Madame Noire, who has a fine list of "8 Dynamics that Should Never Exist in a Relationship." It was written for straight women, but applies across the board as far as I'm concerned.

Yelling, walking on eggshells, unethical behavior and more: we've all likely experienced it, know it feels crappy, but we also believe it "happens with every couple." Well, it doesn’t. Not healthy couples and not healthy single people.

If something feels shitty inside of a relationship, it is. And I'm not just talking about a small disagreement or one isolated fight. I'm talking about ongoing issues that cannot be resolved or negative feelings about your relationship/partner that won't go away.

If this is the case, it's time to re-evaluate your relationship.

Psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina writes in a post adapted from her book How To Be a Couple and Still Be Free that mutuality is the basis of love and respect and undergirds any truly healthy relationship. Mutuality is what I write about a lot, without ever having used that word.

You both have to be "in" the relationship together, equally. That doesn't mean taking turns taking out the garbage, but it does indicate equity and all that comes with it.

"If you’re feeling that one or more of the criteria for mutuality—love, trust, benefit or support—is not shared or equal, say so. It's always best to tell your partner, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel about doing so. If you do not, resentment and anger can build and, sooner or later, explode; what is perhaps only a small and easily solvable problem now can thus become a major issue later on, blown out of all proportion," says Tessina.

My girlfriend and I judge relationships by "buts".  For ourselves, we determined, before we ever moved in together, that we in fact don't have any buts about each other. However, we know so many lesbians who say about their girlfriends, "I love her, but..." "Buts" are a giant red flag; a "but" can be small or large, but before getting any deeper into a relationship, you must determine if one (or more) buts can be resolved.

Whomever you are involved with will remain the same when dating, living together or married. If you go into a relationship thinking you can "save" or change another person, you are barking up the wrong tree indeed and need to find someone else. Someone who is good for you (and herself) just the way she is and not someone you think you can mold and scold her into.

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