There’s a ton of content out there about what constitutes a healthy partner; emotional maturity, loyalty, openness, kindness and many other desirable (and quite frankly – fundamental) traits. Whilst these are things we should absolutely look for in another person, we need to recognise that people can be very good at exhibiting the traits we want to see.
I can’t help but find these “signs of a healthy relationship” articles and TikToks patronising to shit. In fact, they really annoy me. I won’t lie, I click on them sometimes to see if there’s been any revolutionary update in the world of dating, but lo and behold, it’s the bare-minimum traits. I’ll often go through the responses and find comments like “my ex was like this and he was still a piece of shit” and my oh my – the relatability factor is strong with this one.
The culprit? Mirroring.
“My ex was like this and he was still a piece of shit”
People can mirror your awesome self in order to seem like the perfect person you need. It’s all a ruse to get in your pants or have access to an ego-feeding supply. But facades like this don’t last and when the cracks begin to show – you’re likely already trauma bonded and hoping things return back to the good old days. This state only leaves us terribly confused and wondering what the hell happened.
So what am I doing? Or more importantly, what can you do to assess the health of a relationship? It’s nothing revolutionary, to be frank.
It’s simply gut feelings – and listening to them.
If their charming smile and words of poetry still manage to make your stomach sink a little, then something clearly isn’t sitting right on your safety scale. Devil’s advocate could argue you’re being too anxious, judgemental or harsh – but aren’t these the very things that keep us trapped in unhealthy cycles? The feeling we’re being “too” something?
If that feeling still persists – try to debunk your perceptions by asking the necessary questions you need answers to. If things still don’t feel right, then trust your subconscious and do what you need to do to move on. Something is being triggered here, you might not know now, but I’m a firm believer that we have a sixth sense for bad juju.
On the flip side, we need to accept humans aren’t perfect and we absolutely cannot expect them to show love and interest in the same way we do. So whilst you might be conversing with a seasoned fuckboy (and let’s be honest, the chances are high) – you could potentially be in the presence of someone who’s genuinely a sweetheart but hasn’t had healthy communicative styles modeled to them.
What I’m trying to say is no matter the situation, always remind yourself that room to learn and grow is a right of passage for everyone. Yes – even the fuckboy. We’re full of imperfections and some red flags…might be not red flags. They could be white flags under red lights for sure – but it all goes back to your gut feeling and what you deem acceptable in a healthy dynamic. If something seems off, it probably is, but check in with yourself first before jumping the gun.
I guess the tiny caveat to the above, is you definitely don’t want to be in a situation where you become a soundboard or “therapist” for your dates either. Even the genuinely nice ones can be emotionally draining. It’s their responsibility to do the inner work, not yours. If they insist? They better pay up, because coaching is a $2 billion industry.
So yeah – that’s why I don’t bat an eyelid at the tell-tale signs. Whilst they have their place and act as a good indicator, they’re not gospel. Your gut is.
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