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What is a healthy relationship?

(20 Posts)
Llareggub Mon 15-Jul-13 16:46:54

I separated from my alcoholic exhusband nearly 2 years ago. Since then, I have had a relationship with a chap who turned out to have loads of red flags. It's over now, thankfully.

It struck me, when I look back over past relationships that none of them have been very good for me. In fact, I can't think of one that hasn't been bit of a fuck up.

What does a normal relationship feel like? What do I need to do to be in a healthy relationship? I am 38 years old - I can't believe I have got this far without knowing this.

I don't think I am messed up or a nightmare. I have good friends and the ones that are in my life are longstanding. Most have been around since my school days. I don't want to repeat the mistakes of my past though. What can I do?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 15-Jul-13 17:00:52

I've got a thread going called 'one piece of advice to pass on to the DC' and my suggestion there is a relationship where you can be yourself and be loved for being yourself. There are lots of versions of bad relationships but I think the 'unhealthy' sign is if you feel you have changed, been forced to change, or compromised on something important in order to stay in that relationship.

Vivacia Mon 15-Jul-13 17:18:43

Great question!

I know I'm in a healthy relationship because I'm happy, I feel safe, I feel loved and cherished. I laugh a lot when I'm with him. I miss him when I'm not, and save up things to tell him.

That's off the top of my head.

Pippinlongsocks Mon 15-Jul-13 17:20:50

That sounds really lovely. J.e.a.lo.u.s xxx

Phalenopsis Mon 15-Jul-13 17:25:53

You feel truly loved by this person.

The relationship is reciprocal. You help them, they help you. It should not be one-sided. e.g. They should respect your feelings/opinions and you should do the same with theirs, they should be supportive etc etc.

They shouldn't make you feel anxious, nervous, wary, endangered or frightened.

You should be able to feel proud to call him/her your partner.

LineRunner Mon 15-Jul-13 17:28:46

When I was younger I used to get embroiled in relationships where deep down I knew I was going to have to change to try to make 'him' happy. As if it had to be 'hard work' to make a relationship work.

It was my conditioning at home, I think.

Now I am past that, I can have, I hope, healthy relationships.

PrincessKitKat Mon 15-Jul-13 17:35:57

Vivacia that's beautiful & you've hit the nail on the head, that's exactly how I feeI with my DH except when he's moaning about my shoes everywhere

combinearvester Mon 15-Jul-13 17:41:40

A relationship with someone who you feel safe and comfortable around and you can be yourself with. Someone who listens to you, supports you and values your opinions. Someone who is glad you have other friends and respects your family. Someone who is honest and who treats you like an equal.

Llareggub Mon 15-Jul-13 18:19:56

Blimey. I have never felt this.

Officershitty Mon 15-Jul-13 18:34:01

Counselling, if you can afford it, can help you get to the root of finding out why you pick the men you do. What was your family life like when you were growing up? How did those early boyfriends treat you? How is your self esteem? 38 is young enough (well any age is, really) to work on changing how you relate to men and how to work on yourself so that you attract (and feel attracted to) emotionally healthy men.

daytoday Mon 15-Jul-13 18:37:42

A healthy relationship I guess is many things for many different people. Some people like the calm - some like fireworks . . .

I think the key thing to work out is what situations / emotions bring out the worst in you and what bring out the best.

When do you like yourself the best? When do you enjoy yourself the most?

Also, how a man talks about his ex speaks volumes about the sort of person they are.

Llareggub Mon 15-Jul-13 18:40:20

I always see the best in people and think I can change them. I've only just realised. Yes, counselling might help I think.

KnockMeDown Mon 15-Jul-13 18:54:22

By the way, OP, great name have only just got it initially thought it was Welsh grin

Vivacia Mon 15-Jul-13 19:54:12

In the past I chose men who were hard work for one reason or another. Lots of drama and passion and intrigue and arguing... and then one time I just looked at someone who was a fairly new friend and realised that I fancied him. I was sick of all the drama. I wanted a friend and a lover - not some one to save or tame or whatever.

I like combine's comment about being with someone you can be yourself with - annoying habits, insecurities, warts and all.

ALittleStranger Mon 15-Jul-13 20:02:52

Surely a healthy relationship is the bare minimum though? We should expect these things as standard and beyond that there's still the tricky issue of finding someone who enriches you above and beyond.

Llareggub Mon 15-Jul-13 20:16:54

Yes I think I have chosen drama and bad men generally. I feel a bit sad about it now, actually, when I look at my two boys without a father in their lives.

I seem to be OK in other relationships - or so I think! The more I think about it the more I think counselling might be a very good idea.

EllaFitzgerald Tue 16-Jul-13 00:51:11

I'm not sure that I need to be enriched above and beyond.

My healthiness is being married to a man who I have absolute honesty and openness with. There's no drama, it's not hard work. He makes me belly laugh every day and I get excited knowing we've got a day off together. He's my best friend and he's utterly lush as well.

Don't get me wrong, I do wish his mum had taught him to iron, but he gets up at 6 am to make me lunch for work every day, so it's a good trade off.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 16-Jul-13 08:01:29

"I always see the best in people and think I can change them"

When 'see the best' means 'making excuses for serious personality flaws', you're on a hiding to nothing. Thinking you can change those serious flaws just compounds the mistake and is a waste of time and a recipe for misery. No-one is perfect and we can all be better people with encouragement. Selecting a partner successfully means being honest about their flaws and being realistic about whether you can live with them.

Of course, sometimes we don't get to see the 'real them' until a few months into dating... (and vice versa) ... most people are on best behaviour. So it pays to not go in heart and soul in the early days and be trapped by your own romantic vision. Stay a little cynical and keep something back until you've had chance to assess.

Llareggub Tue 16-Jul-13 08:16:02

Er, yes. I think I have excused some pretty serious personality flaws, particularly with the last chap. After reading something on here about the traits of a psychopath I was reminded of him. A typical case of when he was good, he was very very good and when he was bad....

When I separated from my exhusband I decided I was going to focus on creating an exceptional life for me and my children. I really need to work out what it is that makes me behave the way I do when it comes to men. I do fall in love quickly and hard and never have that cynicism you mention Cognito.

I think I might apply the "what would a mumsnetter tell me" next time I am in a romantic situation.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 16-Jul-13 08:50:33

"I do fall in love quickly and hard and never have that cynicism you mention Cognito."

My best friend (who is a positive man-magnet at the ripe old age of 68) once told me that if a man tells her 'I love you', she responds 'that's nice'. I was horrified and thought she must be very cold-hearted! However, having used it myself, it's a minor thing but it actually does keep you from getting swept away.

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