There is a real difference between an unhealthy and a healthy relationship, yet it isn’t always easy to tell the difference. Love or attraction aren’t always enough to sustain a relationship, and they certainly don’t necessarily mean that yours is healthy. So, how can you tell how healthy your own relationship is? In fact, how would you rate your relationship on a scale of 1 to 10? Is your relationship perfect, or are there a few things that need working on?
It can be tough to rate your own relationship, but fortunately, we came across a set of factors that can be taken as a scale from 1 to 10. They were created by relationship expert David Essel, and show a useful way to assess your own relationship to see how healthy it is.
At the lowest two levels are the most dysfunctional relationships. In these relationships, there is often a lot of abuse, which can be emotional or physical. There could well be name calling, ignoring, real violence or threats. Addiction is another common trait of these relationships – whether that is substance-based or behavioral. There may well be anger or depression too.
These type of relationships are often experienced by people who suffered abuse as children. Familiarity with dysfunctional relationships will often lead to a cycle where people return to these type of situations time after time. Essel believes that new behaviors of love may need to be learnt in order to prevent this cycle from repeating itself.
These types of relationships are similar to those experienced in levels 1 and 2, except there is no physical abuse. People in these type of relationships may well express deep love for each other, but there will be dishonesty between them. This may include spending money in secret and hiding purchases from your other half. Passive-aggressive communication may be common between couples at these levels, and there will be a general lack of respect. There may well be addictions here too – such as spending money or eating to feel happy, alcoholism or other substance abuse or being a workaholic.
At this level, there are the signs of a healthy relationship begin to show through the dysfunction of the previous ones. There will be more respect and better communication at these levels, but there may still be arguments which can be tough to resolve. There may still be some light passive-aggressive behavior, although this may well be offset by apologies and a willingness to learn and improve.
At this level, there is a realisation that love will only work if you work at it. There will be independent shows of affection as these couples think of one-another during the day. There will often be public displays of affection – like holding hands – and a willingness to defend your partner if someone is putting them down. These levels of love are shown by the respect, admiration and support that the couple show for one-another as independent people joined in a union.
If you thought that levels 7-8 sounded like a dream romantic partnership, that is because they tend to be just that. Going above this and into 9 and 10 we find what is often referred to as unconditional love. This is extremely rare among romantic partners and is more often typified by the love felt between parents and children.
At this level, there will be humility, vulnerability and complete honesty. These are life companions who recognize and love each others quirks. These couples are able to withstand the most dreadful of challenges and actively seek out ways to make each other happy every day.
Think about where your relationship rates on this scale and see if it is healthy and where there is room for improvement. Of course, you may need to take drastic measures if your relationship ranks at the bottom end of the scale – including seeking some help. However, there is no reason why we can’t all have a happy and healthy relationship – so long as we recognize it might take some work!