3 Ways to Tell If You’re in an Unhealthy Relationship

Broken Heart

“The harder you fight to hold onto specific assumptions, the more likely there’s gold in letting them go.” ~John Seely Brown

It was Christmas night and I was ecstatic. He would be there any minute.

I touched up my gloss and gave myself a quick once over in the hallway mirror. Despite having had a hearty dinner at my Mum’s, my stomach was flat and my dress fit me like a glove, enveloping my curves perfectly. I was ready and raring to go.

Glancing at the clock, I wondered where he was. I double checked my phone to see if he’d text, but no—nothing. Oh well, he was only twenty minutes late. It was fine. He had probably just been held up or something.

I went and sat patiently on the stairs, looking at the front door and willing the doorbell to ring.

Two hours later he showed up. No apology, no nothing. I didn’t even get a kiss.

He staggered in, obviously drunk, and asked if there was any food. I led him into the living room and said I would go fix him something. Grunting in response, he made himself comfortable while I headed into the kitchen.

As disappointed as I was, now was not the time to pick a fight.

Colin was never reasonable when he'd been drinking, and I didn’t want a repeat of last time; I didn’t want to upset him.

I suppose I should have been grateful he had decided to come over. After all, he didn’t have to, did he? What was important was that he had, which was good enough.

He did like me really, but he just had a lot on his plate, and it was up to me to be strong and support him. He didn’t mean to hit me; I just needed to stop being so provocative and expecting too much.

That was my problem: I was always looking for trouble and couldn’t just be content with what I had.

Running back into the living room, I lovingly gave him his food and watched him wolf it down, pleased that he was satisfied and enjoying it. It made me happy seeing him happy.

He put his plate down and looked over at me. My heart started beating faster and I got nervous. He beckoned me over, and I eagerly went and sat on his lap to embrace him.

It didn’t matter that he had been late; he was here now.

I nuzzled against his neck and breathed him in. This was all I wanted, to be with him, and it was moments like this that made it worthwhile. All the other details were irrelevant. For as long as he wanted me, I would always be there for him, giving anything and everything I had to make it work.

Colin was my world, and that was how it would always be.

Almost ten years on and my eyes are wide open to what that relationship was all about. I was in such need of love from a man that I was willing to take any small amount of breadcrumbs tossed in my direction.

That was how it was for years. All the men I got involved with were only out for what they could get, and I accepted it because I genuinely believed that was the best I could have. It's only looking back now that I realize I was the better half, and I shouldn’t have settled for such treatment.

Matters of the heart are always complicated, but combined with insecurities and fear, they're often more destructive than anything else.

I know how easy it is to convince yourself that you are with someone because, deep down, they love you. Manipulators are experts at deceiving people, but we are even better at deceiving ourselves, especially when we long for love with all our hearts.

3 Non-Negotiable Factors

I've had the worst kind of relationships, but from them, I have gleaned three crucial pointers in identifying a healthy vs. unhealthy one.


Who provides what in the relationship emotionally, physically, financially, etc.? Are you the one making all the effort? Is it balanced, and if not, why?

Your time and energy is just as precious as anyone else’s. Are you being appreciated in the way you should be?

Your Feelings

On a scale of one to ten, how do you feel around this person most of the time?

In what way do they benefit and enrich your life?

Can you be yourself when you're with them?

Do they make you feel good about yourself and love you for who you truly are?

While no relationship is perfect, for the most part, they're meant to be a source of joy and pleasure, and to add value to our lives.

Hopes and Dreams

How do you feel about the longevity of this relationship?

Imagine twenty years from now, if your relationship continues as it's been; would this future be in alignment with your own goals and plans?

Does your partner support and share your vision for the future?

Do they encourage your self-development or hinder it?

If you cannot picture long-term happiness with this person in your life, you need to question how much you are prepared to sacrifice to be with them.

Be True To Yourself

These questions should enable you to obtain some perspective.

If your partner is worth the emotional investment, that’s wonderful. If, on the other hand, you instinctively know this is a bad set up, the best advice I can give you is to end the relationship as soon as possible.

It's similar to removing a Band-Aid; it will hurt, but it’s best done quickly and without delay. Speaking from experience, the reality of them vacating is never as scary as you imagine it will be.

Stay true to yourself and don’t just accept things for how they are. I was completely intoxicated by all my ex boyfriends, but only because I allowed myself to be, and they took advantage of that. As soon as I decided to cut all ties, they disappeared almost instantaneously.

Be strong and know that you are worth so much more than you believe. If you lie to yourself that everything is okay, you are prolonging the pain and simply postponing the inevitable.

Take some control and free yourself from a life of guaranteed hurt and misery. Any short-term pain will be outweighed by the bright future, full of love and light, that is waiting for you. All you need to do is make the choice to allow and receive it.

About Holly Lochinger

Holly is the founder of, a website focused on personal development and finding peace amongst life’s chaos. Holly has recently qualified as a life coach, specializing in life purpose, love, and relationships. Her goal is to help people follow their dreams and reach their full potential by sharing her own experiences and breakthroughs with self-help.

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  • I thought this was so powerful. I’ve been there, too-being so desperate for love, that you’ll put up with lots of bad behavior to keep it. So glad you (and I!) have moved into a more loving space 🙂

  • T. Miller

    Thank you, Holly, for this article. I, too, was in an on-again, off-again relationship with a man for four years. The relationship was full of break-ups, make-ups and unnecessary drama. Every time we would get back together, I thought he had changed, but a few months into it, and I would realize that I was the one that changed after every break-up, not him. I was also tired of paying for everything, hearing his excuses that he was always broke and had no plans for the future because he liked to “live in the moment.” It all came to a head – sadly – on Christmas morning (2015) when he finally packed all of his belongings – not much – into garbage bags and left my home for good. In the process, he said things to me that were so cruel and mean that it closed the door on our relationship forever. I haven’t dated since then, but I am enjoying the space in my life that has been created by removing him energetically, vibrationally and physically. It took four years, but I finally got it. I’d rather be single and alone than in a relationship and lonely because it was so one-sided. Your advice here is spot-on and I hope that anyone who is on the fence of a relationship reads thinks twice before staying in an unhealthy relationship. I loved my ex-boyfriend, but I wasn’t IN LOVE with him. There is a huge difference.


  • Katie Neu

    Thank you for putting in to words the last for 4 year of my relationship and then the past two months since we have broken up. It is hard to realize and then breakout of the allusion you have created out of desperation for love.

  • Holly Lochinger

    I know exactly what you mean – there is a huge difference but it gets to the stage where you have to decide whether you love yourself more to not put up with just anything… even if you do still feel for that person. Well done you for doing what’s right and thank you so much for reading my article. I am glad you enjoyed.

    Sending you lots of love & light,

    Holly xx

  • Holly Lochinger

    Thank you Marie for taking the time to read. It is terrible what fear makes us do isn’t it?

    All the best to you and wishing you lots of love & light moving forward.

    Holly xx

  • Holly Lochinger

    Hi Katie,

    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I hope things are better for you now – you should give yourself a huge pat on the back for showing such strength. We always like to delude ourselves from time to time but facing up to the truth even though it hurts is the hardest part. You’ve done that now so well done to you. The only way is up and things will be brighter now that you’ve made that first step.

    Sending you lots of love & light,

    Holly xx

  • Thank you, Holly! Same to you <3