Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Signs You Maybe in a Dysfunctional Relationship
Let me start by saying no relationship is entirely “normal” there is always some aspect or degree of dysfunction. Every relationship consists of dysfunctions; some relationships consists of very little dysfunctions while some consist of a lot of dysfunction. Dysfunction does not have to look the same way in every relationship, nor will it be present at the same time as it can occur at different times and rates throughout the course of a relationship. There is no such thing as a relationship that does not contain some degree of dysfunction, all relationships have it, but the severity of the dysfunction varies. Those involved in an intimate relationship with another person must accept many of their partner’s character flaws, disappointments, letdowns, as well as the joys and happiness of being in a relationship in an effort to make it work. Whenever the balance between “normal” dysfunction and “abnormal” dysfunction occurs than both parties and the relationship are liable to suffer negative consequences as a result of being in as well as remaining in the relationship.
However, if you notice the dysfunction levels in your relationship appear to increase without resolution then you have to determine if the relationship is a healthy and viable option for you. By ignoring or failing to see the dysfunction in a relationship, parties are undermining the very foundation of which the relationship was built. Partners are encouraged to recognize as well as address any issues that arise during the course of the relationship. By both recognizing and addressing the issues present in the relationship partners can resolve and develop ways of coping with the issue should it re-emerge at a later time in the relationship. Issue that continue unresolved can create lingering feelings of anger, animosity, frustration, and sadness as the problems can begin to feel insurmountable by the parties.
The following are signs your relationship may be dysfunctional:
Assigning or ascribing blame to one’s partner – This occurs when one partner or both fail to see their role in the problems present in the relationship, rather they choose to blame the other partner for all of the problems that exist.
Constantly threatening to exit the relationship- Constant threats to leave the relationship are usually done in an attempt to control the direction of the relationship, the other person, or guilt the other person into doing what he or she wants.
Ongoing unfaithfulness- Ongoing infidelity in a relationship is a key sign the relationship is dysfunctional as one partner or both do not know how or never developed the skills to manage problems in the relationship, hence, they bring in a third party. Often when infidelity occurs there is a lack of communication, understanding, as well ability to address underlining issues in the relationship.
There is an imbalance of power- One partner maintains and retains most of the control in a relationship. Making major decisions for him or herself as well as their romantic partner. This person will typically dominate the other person, preventing him or her from freely expressing their feeling, thoughts, and behaviors. Those taking part in a submissive role in the relationship often feel unappreciated and powerless to make decisions they feel are necessary for the good of the relationship.
Winner vs. loser- During the course of the relationship it is expected and natural for couples to get into an argument with one another. However, if the arguments are persistent and they consist of right and wrong it will be difficult for couples to identify the problems as well as their role in the conflict. When couples argue, they usually stop listening to each other early in that conflict. Within a very short period of time, it would be difficult for either to know or understand what the other is feeling.
Holding onto anger or animosity – This is a sign of dysfunction in a relationship when one partner or both are unable to move beyond an issue in the relationship, rather they ruminate on the past issue, loitering it over the others parties head as a weapon.
Boundary Violations- Invading the personal privacy of the other partner by crossing personal boundaries. In dysfunctional relationships, one or both partners often feel little conflict or hesitation about entering the other partner’s private world, i.e., thoughts, emotions, desires, etc. The erroneous assumption is that because you are in a relationship with that person whatever he or she has, thinks, and feels belongs to you as well. However, this thinking typically comes along with what the thinking “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”. Everyone regardless of being in a relationship or not have a right to both privacy and respect. Therefore, is not appropriate or healthy to invade the personal boundaries of another.
Eli & Candace
Eli & Candace have been living together for 3 months. When they first moved in together things were gaining well, however Candace has been growing increasingly concerned about Eli’s desire to always be right in any given situation. Eli expects Candace to “follow” all of the rules he has created for their living arrangement, without question or consent. He has also started going through Candace’s computer when she is not at home and looking through her personal papers. Eli’s belief is that if they are living together there should be no expectation of privacy. However, he is not willing to give her the code to his laptop and hides his personal mail and other papers from her. Is the dysfunction in this relationship considered healthy or unhealthy?
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