Are your relationships healthy?
It’s easy while in a dysfunctional relationship to think that it is healthy. There is nothing to compare it to. It seems normal, so it must be normal. Lynne Foote, MA, LPC stated that a healthy relationship is built on respect, friendship, and trust. In her article Creating the Foundation for Healthy Relationships, she lays out some important information. I’d like to build upon what she wrote.
Respect: Honoring another person even if they disagree with you. We live in a society where we are quick to verbally annihilate anyone who does not think the same way we do. We are trained to defend our positions, and our pride says, “I am right.” In order to respect other people there comes a time where we have to agree to disagree, and honor another person even if they are not agreeing with us. Respect is rooted in honor.
Friendship: Friends are people who have something in common, but not all friendships are created equal. A friend is someone who looks out for your best interest. A person who loves you, in spite of you. A person who gives you the freedom to be who you are, but is willing to tell you when you’re headed for disaster. A friend is someone you can rely on in good times and bad times. Friendship is like a garden, it grows because someone is tending to it.
Trust: Trust is the glue that holds it all together. When you trust someone, you feel safe with them. You know that your heart is safe with them. Trust is something that grows over time. If it is broken, it takes awhile to rebuild and sometimes it is never fully repaired.
Here are some other things that I have found over the years that have been a good indication of health in a relationship.
1. Free of control and manipulation. The desire to control people isn’t godly. God gives people free will. He does not try to control or manipulate. If you’re with someone and they try to control or manipulate you, it’s not a good sign.
2. Free of verbal abuse or abuse of any kind. Any person who puts you down, uses excessive sarcasm, hits you, or any form of abuse is unhealthy. Get out and seek help if necessary.
3. Free of blame shifting. In a healthy relationship each person takes responsibility for their actions. They don’t blame others or make excuses. They take full responsibility and ownership for their parts of the problem.
4. Free of co-dependence. Each person is responsible for themselves. In co-dependency there is normally one enabler/care-giver and one person who is continually being rescued or excuses made for them. Instead of two independent people, there’s co-dependency.
5. Free of gossip. A person you can not trust to keep your private matters private is not a friend. If a person gossips to you, they will gossip about you.
6. Keeps their word. The person who says they will be there for you and never is, is probably not the best choice of a friend. If their yes is yes until something better comes along, then investigate the relationship.
7. Free of gross selfishness. All relationships have some level of self focus. However, if you are with someone and they are only concerned about themselves, then it’s not healthy. Relationships are supposed to be give and take. A one-sided relationship is one normally shared between a parent and small child and not an adult to adult, unless the other person simply cannot give anything due to mental illness or physical illness.
8. Full of forgiveness and grace. It’s inevitable when you’re in a relationship with another person that they will do something to hurt you and sometimes unknowingly. We are always called to forgive. Restoration may take time depending on the damage done.
9. Does what the other person likes. This one is my favorite. It’s great to have people to spend time with, but there is something about the person who will do what they know you like. That person is a keeper. It’s easy to do the bare minimum in relationships and coast through them, so, the person willing to go the extra mile is appreciated.
10. Is filled with love. Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. Love is not proud, selfish, or self-seeking. Love rejoices with the truth. Love protects. Love never fails… 1 Cor. 13. Love as the world defines it or most people define it, is not how God defines it. A healthy relationship is rooted in love.
I wrote this post because over the years my friend Joi has mocked me because she’s said, “All your ‘friends’ are not your friends. You are a good friend to people, but how many of those people would you consider a really good friend? If I don’t trust a person enough to have my bank account information, they are not in my friend circle.” While she exaggerates, as I have a few good friends, I still have far more people who call me their best friend than I would return the statement. She also minimal to no relationship drama as the people she interacts with love her purely and vice versa. I’ve learned the hard way that not all relationships are healthy or good, and I must do my part to be healthy and cultivate healthy ones. I hope your relationships are built on love, respect, friendship, and trust. Mostly, I hope God is at the center of them, for without Him it’s far more challenging. Love, Erin.