How to Tell If Your Relationship Is Healing You Instead of Hurting You
If you hurt an animal, it’ll run away. But that’s not always the same case for humans.
Love is an alluring experience. So much so that some people will do anything to have it, even if it means being hurt along the way. What’s worse is the pain is often emotional, so it’s not always easy to notice when it’s happening.
But love doesn’t need to be painful. A relationship doesn’t have to equate to crying yourself to sleep most nights. Choosing to be with another person can not only be mostly painless, but it can also be healing.
Relationships are about more than just passion and love; they help us learn, grow, and repair the parts of ourselves that other people hurt. They reflect back to us everything that's no longer helping to make us happy.
That’s why I value a healing relationship in my own life. I’ve been in far too many relationships that hurt me and left me stuck in a life I no longer wanted. But many people don’t realize how great of a role our partners play in our healing journey.
Spending a significant amount of time with another person and being vulnerable with them isn’t something to take lightly. Make sure it’s someone who is guiding you to the life you want, not holding you back in one you don’t.
If you’re unsure whether your relationship is healing you or not, look out for these signs:
You feel at ease in their presence.
In the book The Power of Attachment by Diane Poole Heller, there’s a list of signs that your relationship isn’t working. Heller listed, “you feel like you’ve become the enemy,” as a sign that two people should break up.
I deeply resonated with that statement. In more than one relationship, I felt like my partner’s biggest enemy. They would be loving at times, but that didn’t make up for the absolutely nasty things they would say to me the rest of the time.
I realize now that you can’t heal in that kind of environment. When you’re constantly triggered by your partner or feel like you’re walking on eggshells, you’re merely trying to get through the day without your partner blowing up.
But when you feel comfortable, that creates space for change. You don’t have to watch every word that comes out of your mouth. You can finally be your authentic self and that, in itself, is healing.
Your relationship lovingly challenges you.
A relationship that hurts you will try to change you. The other person will attempt to mold or tear you down because you don’t fit into the idea of the person they want.
And while a healing relationship still challenges you, it does so in a loving way. Let me give you an example.
I’ve struggled with depression since I was in middle school. It’s come into play in some way, shape, or form in all of my relationships. One of my boyfriends would constantly say, “just be happier” or “what do you have to be sad about?”
But with my current boyfriend, he’s much more patient. He encourages me to feel my emotions, and when I’m ready, he will help me come up with a game plan to feel better. And this goes for all aspects of our relationship.
You don’t question your worth.
Does your partner make you feel like there’s something wrong with you? Or do you feel accepted as who you are, flaws and all? Because the former is filled with judgment and criticism. But the latter is acceptance.
You see, part of healing is accepting you are who you are, including your experiences. If you’re filled with guilt and living in the past, you won’t stand a chance to learn and move on.
A healing partner won’t make you feel like their love is conditional. They’ll help you realize the worth you always had that your other partners made you doubt. They’ll accept those parts of you that always felt unlovable.
You’re supported in everything you do.
When I first started dating my boyfriend, I had no idea what I was doing carer-wise. I worked as a nanny and dabbled in things here and there. But at one point, I decided to pursue writing as a full-time career.
It’s been two years since then, and things weren’t always easy. But there was never a point that my boyfriend wasn’t supportive along the way.
You’re going to change throughout your life constantly. You’ll have new work goals, hobbies, and dreams. A hurtful partner will try to tear you down whenever you attempt any big changes in your life.
But a healing partner will support you. They’ll be your biggest fan and your shoulder to cry on when you need it. Because they want you to realize your full potential, and they know it makes for the happiest relationship as well.
Your boundaries are not only respected but encouraged.
Boundaries aren’t meant to keep people out of your life; they’re meant to keep you safe. Unfortunately, many people out there only see boundaries as something that’s going to hurt them.
Stating your needs is normal in a relationship. Speaking up when your partner hurts you is simply how things work. But if your partner reacts badly to either of those, then that’s not the makings of a healing relationship.
Boundaries help you feel more like yourself, less stressed, and more confident. Without a partner who respects and encourages them, you’re more likely to feel at the whim of another person’s desires, not your own.
You’re growing within your relationship.
Growth is necessary for a fulfilling life. And I’m not just referring to growing with your partner; I’m talking about in general. Without improvement in different aspects of your life, you’ll feel stuck. Or, worse, you’ll be stuck without even realizing it.
That’s why a healing relationship will always be one that you can grow in. Sometimes, it’s tempting to hold on to people who fit perfectly into our old life. But by doing so, you’re tethered to a life that no longer makes you happy.
Finding a partner who values the continuous growth you want will slowly heal the parts of yourself you want to leave in the past. The only remedy for the pain that’s latching onto you is changing.
There’s a famous quote that says, “you cannot heal in the place that you got sick,” and the same rings true for relationships. You can’t expect another painful relationship to be the place that you heal.
Making the realization that my partner plays a significant role in my healing journey changed how I think about love. It’s not just about finding a partner you love being around; you need to find someone who naturally encourages positive change in your life.