Healthy Relationships/ When communication is unhealthy

Healthy Relationships

When communication is unhealthy

Healthy relationships are foundational to mental health and mental health directly impacts our bodies- the amount of stress we carry, how we sleep, our energy levels needed to function, and how we take care of ourselves, etc.

Read each of the statements below and see if any fit for you- whether you are on the receiving end of a behavior or you are the one doing the behavior, or both.  

Many strong, smart, successful, good people can find themselves in relationships that either have some unhealthy aspects or that are toxic all together. Or, they can find themselves acting in ways that aren’t skillful or are unhealthy. There are many, many reasons for this and what needs to happen next is different for every relationship and every person.

If, after reviewing the following statements, you find that even some or many fit for you please consider finding a safe space within yourself or a compassionate person to explore why this might be and what you most want for yourself.                                                                                                                                         

You may also want to consider counseling for yourself (and only if it’s safe, also for your relationship). Counseling can help you to carve out time to focus on you- to feel your feelings, hear yourself think out loud, and reflect- with someone kind who won’t judge you or press you to make any changes before you are ready or want to.

Reactive Communication

  • Defensive/Unable to receive feedback
  • Simple requests become power struggle
  • All or nothing thinking
  • Refusing to integrate your memory/intentions/feelings or new facts/explanations about an event into their current understanding
  • Short fuse

Verbal Difficulties

  • Cold/Ignoring/Stonewalling
  • Hurtful speech excused as “just joking”/Biting sarcasm
  • Hurtful speech excused as “just telling the truth”
  • Hurtful speech excused as if you/other are “too sensitive”
  • Condescending tone
  • Focuses on your weaknesses/Tells you you’re “crazy”
  • Yelling
  • Cursing
  • Calling names
  • Bullying/Demeaning
  • Kids/pet upset by what they hear or seeing you/other upset
  • Not willing to apologize/take responsibility
  • Starts apology but pins underlying blame on you/other
  • Lose your voice/Conflict avoidant (if not always, with specific people)


  • Refuses to engage in basic comforting because sees it as “coddling”
  • Unequal responsibilities that should be shared
  • Addiction (pot/alcohol/drugs, work, electronics, porn, etc)
  • Emotional/Physical Affairs
  • Overspending/Debt (secret/unattended/growing)
  • Lying (including small lies)
  • Disappearing
  • Self-centered/Lacking empathy

Power & Control

  • Minimizing/Denying/Blaming
  • Making all big decisions without you/Acting as the only capable & smart one
  • Treating you/other like a servant/less than
  • Using male privilege
  • Not giving access to important info
  • Controlling/hiding finances
  • Steering away from making your/their own money
  • Giving an “allowance”
  • Taking your/their money
  • Using jealously to justify actions/Possessive/Paranoid
  • Controlling what you/other do, how you dress, who you see & talk to, social media, read & watch, etc.
  • Betraying privacy
  • “Testing” you/Assuming the worst & making you prove yourself
  • Double-standards/Moving goal posts
  • Gaslighting (telling you something you know to be true isn’t true)
  • Making you/other feel guilty for taking the focus off their needs to address yours
  • Shifting the responsibility for the abusive behavior
  • Saying the abuse didn’t happen
  • Love Bombing (showering affection to keep from holding yourself/other accountable)
  • Smothering/Guilt for choices not revolving around other/you
  • Using children to relay messages
  • Making you/other feel guilty about yourself/other as a parent/human
  • Punishing with an emotionally hurtful behavior
  • Intimidation using facial gestures/body language


  • Ultimatums
  • Coercing you/other to do things against your morals
  • Coercing you/other to drop charges against them
  • Threatening or telling personal things about you/other to others to expose/shame you
  • Threatening to report you/other (i.e. to police, state, job, etc)
  • Threatening to harm self if you/other act out or leave
  • Threatening to harm you/others if you leave
  • Threatening children being taken away

Physical Harshness

  • Aggressive posturing
  • Getting in your physical space
  • Blocking exists or taking your keys
  • Displaying weapons
  • Throwing/Breaking things
  • Pulling hair
  • Shoving/Shaking
  • Slapping/Hitting
  • Punching/Choking
  • Wounding you/other
  • Torture
  • Kids/pet upset by what they see or seeing you/other upset
  • Rough with kids/pet

Sexual Manipulation

  • Unwanted attention/Sharing private images without your consent
  • Putting you in an uncomfortable situation
  • Sexual manipulation
  • Sexual harassment
  • Unwanted touch
  • Sexual assault
  • Rape/Pressured/Non-consensual/Not wanted


  • Unwanted texts, phone calls, emails, mail
  • Showing up uninvited at your home
  • Showing up uninvited at your work
  • Following you
  • Threatening harm to you/your status/opportunities/themselves/those close to you
  • Using visitation with kids to harass you