Unhealthy Relationships: Recognizing the Signs While Dating

December 26, 2019 Katlyn Brinkley 

Dating can be hard for everyone, and signs of unhealthy relationships can be difficult to spot. Here are some early tell-tale signs that the relationship is unhealthy--also known as, "It's complicated."

Beware of These Signs of Unhealthy Relationships

One-Sided Limits Appear in Unhealthy Relationships

A healthy relationship involves talking about, understanding, and setting boundaries that both partners can agree with; and, that can be a hard conversation for people to have. Sometimes, understanding can get blurry when there aren't enough of these understandings, leaving one partner on a different plane. This complication can represent a form of verbal abuse if these levels of understanding are kept different intentionally, where one partner believes things are either more or less serious than the other in order to keep the relationship going without working on communicating honestly.

I try to remember two things to keep one-sided limits from occurring in my relationships:

  • A partnership is equal-everything, including respect, voice, and preference. No one should put these things aside to please someone else.
  • Relationships are meant to add positivity to your life. If your expectations are suppressed, you're not allowing your honest, happiest self to appear.

Avoiding Serious Conversations About Feelings Shows Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

It seems to be a trend through memes and tweets that feelings are the enemy. There's something familiar that makes these relatable--we've all been hurt, and it's instinctual to avoid those situations so we don't get hurt again. However, it's also natural to move on, meet new people, and have new experiences. Sometimes, though, these two forces disagree with each other, and sometimes verbal abuse can happen in the gaps of not saying enough.

It can be easier for people to avoid talking at all about emotions because doing this makes one vulnerable; however, it doesn't make it wrong to have feelings. In my experience, talking about my feelings with my partner was seen as weak and cumbersome, and I felt overly-emotional for wanting to have honest conversations. It may be hard, but avoiding the discussion doesn't make emotion go away, and can cause confusion and mistrust. Remember:

  • Whether you're in the defensive or the healing position, your feelings matter, but so do your partner's. Be honest and expect honesty in return.

Stopping an Unhealthy Relationship Before It Begins

It can be all to easy to be lenient in a new relationship when feelings are new and butterflies are fluttering. This is when it's most common to subconsciously ignore what we may need from a partner. Yet, this is a vital time to set the stage for how the relationship will evolve. Being honest with your partner early on can mean a more authentic relationship that fits your needs as well as your partner's and can prevent confusion later. If you feel that your needs aren't being met, speaking up about it could give better results than sweeping it under the rug. So:

  • Don't be afraid to show who you are.

Have you experienced an unhealthy relationship? What did you do about it?

APA Reference
Brinkley , K. (2019, December 26). Unhealthy Relationships: Recognizing the Signs While Dating, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 19 from

Author: Katlyn Brinkley 

Find Katlyn on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Lizanne Corbit
December, 31 2019 at 9:34 am

I think this is a particularly helpful read for all of those who are dating. In the age of liking and swiping it can appear easier than ever to simply bounce from one relationship to the next and it can cause a lot of unhealthy behaviors. It is so important for us to recognize the signs of what an unhealthy relationship really looks like so we can address it head on.

January, 2 2020 at 3:22 pm

Hi Lizanne,
Thank you for this perceptive and insightful comment. You are right—it's crucial to be aware of unhealthy patterns in relationships, so the cycle of toxic behaviors are not only broken, but replaced with healthy boundaries and meaningful connections.
Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer
Blog Moderator

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