Are You in a Healthy Relationship?

couple holding each other

My daughter calls me shortly after midnight. “I was born at this exact minute,” she says. I wish her a happy birthday and then remind her that she’s an hour ahead of her actual birth time. “I was going to call you in the morning, Sweetie … technically, you still have an hour to go,” I joke. But she wants no part of the humor.

Feeling much older than her young years and forgotten on her birthday by the man she thought she would marry, my daughter reveals some of the issues she has been struggling with in her relationship. She describes her fiancé’s selfishness, his lack of communication, motivation and commitment to anything, let alone their relationship. “I feel like I’m doing all the work,” she sobs.

So I ask my daughter the big question, “If you are unhappy, why are you staying in the relationship?” “Because I love him.” “Okay … what is it that makes you feel it is love?” My daughter is silent for a moment, and then rattles off a list of reasons that start with, “He does this for me, he makes me feel like … and I don’t know who I am or where I would be without him.”

I gently point out to my daughter that her answers describe feelings of inadequacy. Somehow this lovely young woman has convinced herself that she needs this man to validate her existence. “In essence,” I tell her, “you are saying you don’t matter unless you are with him … and that is not love.”

Unfortunately, my daughter’s experience is somewhat typical of many unhealthy relationships in which one or both partners are together on a “need” basis. Whether you are looking for or are already in a relationship, if lingering personal issues have not been identified and resolved, you cannot expect to enter into or retain a healthy and fully functional relationship.

Many relationships are dysfunctional because one or both partners are still operating from old programming, or “old tapes” playing in their head. These tapes are residual issues we carry with us from past relationships. Some we even retain from childhood. No matter how many relationships one enters into, as long as we retain those old tapes, the theme will remain the same; whether it is insecurity, the need for validation, a lack of self-worth or some other issue. Unless the tapes are discarded permanently, we will continue to attract the same type of person into our lives and end up in the same type of relationship. It is important to remember that like attracts like.

For those of you who might currently be in a non-functioning relationship, or who are still working on identifying and healing your own issues from the past, here are some samples of old programming/tapes.

  1. Feeling that you are not worthy of being loved just the way you are, faults and all.
  2. Believing that you have to settle for less or wind up alone.
  3. Needing to “fix” the relationship or the person you are involved with.
  4. Feeling that if you try just a little harder, your partner will love you more.
  5. Feeling that you have to be careful about what you say and do – feeling like you are walking on eggshells.
  6. Expecting the relationship to fail, so rather than be the one who is left, you subconsciously drive your partner away.
  7. Fearing abandonment.
  8. Feeling insecure and lacking self-worth.
  9. Needing to be in a relationship in order to feel validated or complete.
  10. Underestimating your potential and not knowing just who you are and what you need.
  11. Feeling that you are the only one putting in the effort to make the relationship work.
  12. Lacking trust – suspicious of your partner’s behavior with no apparent reason.

This is a short list that can probably be added onto, but it will serve as a start to identify what tapes are programmed in your head. You can begin discarding them from your life and make room for “new tapes” that promote happiness and wellbeing.

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