To Stay Or Not To Stay In A Relationship

Someone asked me for advice on whether she should stay or leave her relationship. Her partner is affectionate and loving. He makes her feel cherished and loved. But on the other hand, she is confused and stressed by her partner’s possessive and controlling attitude. He gets upset and threatens to end their relationship when she wants to spend time with her family and friends.  

Her situation led me to reflect on the following questions: 

  1. When does a relationship become unhealthy?
  2. What signs should prompt a person to consider leaving such a relationship? 

Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship:

  1. Insecurity

Insecurity in a relationship may manifest as a lack of trust. It can result in possessive and controlling behavior. It may cause a person to hide things from their partner because they are afraid of the possible consequences of openly sharing their thoughts and feelings.

  1. Walking on eggshells

A person may feel like they are constantly “walking on eggshells” around their partner. They may even feel like they are always giving in and giving up on things they like or want to do to keep their partner happy.

  1. A one-sided relationship

A person may feel like they are in a “one-sided” relationship. They feel like they invest more effort, energy, and emotion to keep the peace in their relationship. Thus, the person can often feel drained because they feel like they are always “doing all the work” without the support of their partner.

  1. Disrespect 

Mutual respect is key to a secure and intimate relationship. Disrespectful words and behaviors can leave a person feeling rejected and hurt. It may foster emotions such as hurt, shame, guilt, loneliness, and embarrassment.  This kind of treatment often includes dismissing someone’s feelings or thoughts without trying to understand them. The spectrum of disrespect can span from outright ridicule to making fun of their opinions to the use of dark humor or hurtful remarks, all aimed at belittling and exerting control over the partner. 

  1. Gaslighting

Gaslighting and manipulation can confuse and cause a person to think that they have done something wrong or that something is wrong with them. It uses past matters, memories, and mistakes to cause the other person to doubt themself.

  1. Loss of self-worth and confidence

Another “red flag” is the loss of one’s self-worth and confidence. In an unhealthy relationship, individuals can feel small, accompanied by increased self-doubt and multiplying anxieties. This can manifest as a decline in confidence, particularly in decision-making or engaging in activities that were once routine or enjoyable.

The Takeaway

If one or more of these signs resonated with you in your relationship, please take some time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Confide with a close friend, journal your experience(s), or consult a therapist if needed. Going through this process can clarify any doubts you may have. Being honest with yourself is the first step in discerning whether you should stay or leave a relationship. If you choose to stay, you still have to work through the things that caused you to have these concerns in the first place. If you need professional advice or help, please contact our counselors at SACAC Counseling.

Written By:
Joyce Ng
Clinical Psychologist
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
SACAC Counselling