Characteristics of a Healthy Dating Relationship

Maintaining a healthy relationship is difficult for anyone, but more so for someone who has been involved in an unhealthy one in the past. A history of abuse - physical or emotional - can alter ones judgment regarding future companionship. If you find yourself unsure about of your current relationship, read on for questions to ask yourself, and a fresh perspective.

"Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs. This is the principle behind lotteries, dating, and religion." - Scott Adams, Cartoonist and creator of the Dilbert comic strip.

"You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity." - Epicurus - Greek Philosopher.

Maggie was dating again after a difficult breakup, however she wasn't confident in her ability to make good choices. She was experiencing anxiety and did not wish to go through another disastrous relationship. Maggie learned how to distinguish a healthy, promising, dating relationship from one that's destined to go wrong by honestly answering questions about her potential dating partners.

Maggie had been attracted by Phil's solicitous interest and attentions. She wished to proceed slower but didn't heed her instincts. Rather, she yielded herself up to Phil's considerate compliments and attentions.

Maggie was counseled that men who come on strong at the beginning of a relationship are often controlling and in need of affection, attention or emotional support and that's what occurred in her relationship with Phil.

Maggie stated that Phil appeared to be so loving and candid at the start. But things changed when they were in a committed relationship. He began to demand her time and attention. He became irritable, critical and withdrawn when she didn't give him what he desired. How could Maggie have recognized these warning signs of an unhealthy dating relationship at the beginning? What should she be aware of now that she's dating once again?

Maggie had gone out with a man named David one time. Shortly after this first date, David told Maggie that he wanted to spend more time with her and take a trip with her. Maggie was reminded of her relationship with Phil and a red flag went up.

Maggie and her counselor explored some of the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship in addition to the characteristics of a promising, healthy dating relationship.

If you answer yes to these questions, beware of an unhealthy dating relationship:

    • Early in the relationship does he or she come on too strong?
    • Does he or she become withdrawn, irritable, angry, or critical if you say no?
    • Does he or she use logical arguments to try and convince you that you're wrong for your feelings or your position?
    • Is he or she uninterested when you talk about yourself and your interests but speaks on and on about himself or herself?
    • Are you dating an older man or woman who's never been married and has been in a number of broken relationships?
    • Are you dating someone who has had several broken marriages?
    • Does he or she have an abusive background not addressed by therapy?
    • Has he or she abandoned their children?
    • Is he or she close-minded about learning from conflicts in the relationship?
    • Does he or she have an addiction that is not acceptable to you such as drinking, drugs, gambling, smoking, TV, etc?
    • Is he or she financially irresponsible?
    • Is he or she untruthful?
    • Does he or she have just a few friends?
    • Is he or she judgmental of self and other people? Does he or she belittle or disparage self and other people?
    • Does he or she get jealous, possessive and upset when you want to do your own thing?
    • Does he or she have a completely different view from yours concerning religious belief and/or spirituality?
    • Does he or she have few outside interests and hobbies?

Maggie and her counselor discussed the fact that you get what you see. You must open your eyes and believe what you see.

Maggie's counselor stated that people can change, but, YOU can't change them. If someone is not okay with you the way you are right now, then don't continue with the relationship. If you are always on time and the other person is always late, don't count on this to change. If it's not all right with you, then don't continue with the relationship.

The same thing applies to issues with weight, neatness vs. messiness, being a saver vs. a spender, etc. These matters can turn into immense relationship problems because you expect the other person to change and become quite upset when they don't change.

If you answer yes to these questions, you're on the way to a promising, healthy dating relationship:

    • Does he or she respect your feelings and needs, even if they're unlike his or hers?
    • Is he or she compassionate and empathetic toward you and others?
    • Is he or she interested in getting to know you and what you have to say?
    • Is he or she non-judgmental and accepts self and other people?
    • Is he or she willing to explore conflict resolution and differences of opinion?
    • Does he or she follow through on promises?
    • Is he or she responsible for children from a failed marriage -- has not deserted them?
    • Is he or she responsible for his or her own feelings, health and welfare rather than holding you responsible for his or her well being?
    • Is he or she financially responsible and doesn't expect you to take care of him or her financially?
    • If divorced, does he or she take responsibility for his or her share of the troubles that led to the failed marriage?
    • Is he or she a person who was in a loving relationship but lost their partner to death? People who have already been in a loving, healthy relationship typically know how to have loving, healthy relationships.
    • Does he or she have friends and acquaintances that you like?
    • Does he or she speak about other people in a supportive and caring manner?
    • Does he or she have interests, hobbies and pastimes that are satisfying and fulfilling to him or her?
    • Does he or she have similar religious or spiritual beliefs as you?.
    • Does he or she support what brings you joy?
    • Does he or she have a good sense of humor and is able to make light of his or her mistakes?
    • Does he or she balance work and play -- can work hard and also have fun?

In order to have a healthy dating relationship and find the "right" person, you need to first become the right person. Honestly answer the above questions, then do the inner work necessary to be on your way to a promising, healthy dating relationship.

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