In an unhealthy relationship, incompatibilities and unmet needs feature alongside behaviours that don’t serve the greater good of the relationship. And all too often, the partners focus on ‘winning’ or avoiding ‘losing’. Even though it might be a lengthy relationship with various commitments, it gets stuck at ‘stage 2’. The power struggles hinder intimacy and the relationship’s growth and health.

Instead of it being about what‘s right for the relationship, it’s about who’s right. It’s about hoarding or ‘taking back’ power and controlling how things are done or limiting intimacy. Of course, if one party always has to be right or more powerful, the other always has to be wrong and controlled.

Any relationship consumed by power, control or even contempt is an unhealthy one.

In a healthy relationship, when you ‘win’, they ‘win’, and vice versa. It’s not because you’ve merged and are codependent, though.

Healthy relationships are based on interdependence, not codependence.

You’re still individual enough to revel in the greater good of each other’s successes and also share the difficulties when things don’t go so well. You know where you end and they begin, and you can depend on them without losing yourself.

It’s about being on the same team and also having a sense of self. Because the relationship is healthy rather than primarily based on old patterns, you won’t assume too much and become complacent. In particular, you’re also not threatened by each other’s growth. As a result, there isn’t a focus on power, control and winning. Instead, you’re sharing in the co-creation of your relationship.

In an unhealthy relationship, when they ‘win’, you lose, and vice versa. Either way, you’re not a ‘team’ or a ‘partnership’, or at least not a healthy one. Individual growth feels threatening, as if it’s criticism or abandonment, or, yes, a threat to the status quo and control.

An example of this is where we play Florence Nightingale trying to fix/heal/help/rescue our partner. Uncomfortable as it can be for us to admit, when we examine our motives or our discomfort about boundaries or leaving, there’s a fear of being redundant if they get ‘better’. There can also be fear that if we leave, someone else will reap the benefits of our efforts. And as well-intended as we might be, this isn’t a healthy dynamic.

So a good way to check in with ourselves about our relationships is to notice whether we do things from a place of wanting to ‘win’.

This is always a sign that we’re getting sidetracked by ego instead of focusing on intimacy and forging loving relationships. Sure, as humans, we’re all guilty of trying to control the uncontrollable and wanting to be right at times. That said, it can’t be the mainstay of a relationship. It also means being honest about what ‘winning’ and ‘losing’ looks and feels like for us. In doing so, we get to align with who we really are and our intentions for a relationship.

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