Well, Spring has sprung and as the saying goes, “Love is in the air.” As you Spring Forward and head out into the dating world, you may find it particularly helpful to be informed about the signs of a healthy dating relationship vs. an unhealthy dating relationship.
This holds true particularly if you are meeting someone from a dating website. Why? Let’s face it, anyone can be who they want behind a computer screen. But what if you meet them and find them to be quite different?
Interestingly, the list of requirements for a healthy love relationship is short. Trust, honesty and loyalty are the criteria that define a healthy love relationship. However, the list of criteria for an unhealthy love relationship is long and taxing, and contains unreasonable expectations, conditions, limitations, barriers and demands.
Warning signs of unhealthy boundaries
Susan Forward, Ph.D., in Emotional Blackmail, shares specific warning signs of unhealthy boundaries in dating and love relationships.
- Telling all.
- Talking at any intimate level during the first meeting.
- Falling in love with a new acquaintance.
- Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.
- Being overwhelmed by a person or “preoccupied.”
- Acting on first sexual impulse.
- Being sexual for partner, not self.
- Going against personal values or rights to please others.
- Not noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries.
- Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries.
- Accepting food, gifts, touch and sex that you do not want.
- Taking as much as you can for the sake of getting.
- Giving as much as you can for the sake of giving.
- Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.
- Letting others direct your life.
- Letting others describe your reality.
- Letting others define you.
- Believing others can anticipate your needs.
- Expecting others to fulfill your needs automatically.
- Falling apart so someone will take care of you.
- Sexual and physical abuse.
- Food abuse.
- Letting others describe your reality—may be a warning sign of an abusive relationship, no matter if it is a love relationship, a family relationship or a work relationship. Someone trying to constantly describe your reality by trying to pressure you to change your mind about everything you decide may be on the pathway to trying to control the relationship.
Know your boundaries and when you are giving away too much of your power. If you step back and think about it, whether you are dating or not, you may find that some of the above unhealthy behaviours have been prevalent in some of your relationships, be they love, family or work ones.
Maintaining clear, healthy boundaries
Dating can be a wonderful experience. It is important, however, to have healthy and clear boundaries. In an article in Psychology Today, titled “What it Means to Create Boundaries in Relationships”, John Amodeo defines why it is important to create boundaries in relationships, generally, no matter the type of relationship.
While finding a partner educated in all the unhealthy boundaries listed above might be difficult, it is important to get to know who you are dating. Do not be afraid to ask questions, take your time and follow your intuition about the questions you need to ask. If you are too anxious to find a partner, you may choose too quickly and then choose someone who has no concept of healthy boundaries. Getting involved in this type of relationship will leave you feeling overburdened.
Boundaries promote self-respect and mutual respect and maintain the equilibrium in a relationship. Step back and look at your world. Is there an area in your life where you could focus better on setting boundaries? Hopefully, Dr. Forward’s list has provided you with better insight.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.
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