Contrary to popular belief, a healthy relationship doesn't need to be one in which you agree upon everything. Rather, disagreements can help you to challenge one another and grow as individuals — so long as you confront these disagreements in constructive ways.
That said, here are seven signs that your relationship is lacking this kind of growth and, as such, your partner is not making you a better person.
Arguably, a relationship in which both partners see eye to eye on everything, affirming their own views and thoughts at all times, is actually a toxic one. This means neither partner pushes the other; neither partner changes.
Of course, you should never expect your partner to change (if you do, you shouldn't be with that person!), but change can be positive when it happens organically between two people.
It's natural to have disagreements and, as mentioned, it's important to address these disagreements in a constructive way. Too often, however, we allow emotions like anger and frustration to consume us and we lash out with words we might later regret. If your partner tends to lash out on you, attacking your character and belittling or condescending you for your thoughts, views, beliefs, etc., they're not helping you grow. They're only making you doubt yourself.
It's okay to share different political views. It's okay to have a difference of opinions in which neighborhood you should live. It's okay to have different hobbies. What's not necessarily okay is a difference in morals — what you believe to be right and just in your core. And that's because, if you believe that your partner's behavior is immoral (or they think that of your behavior), you may start to resent each other. And rather than helping each other move forward, you may fall into judging one another, bringing each other down.
The reality is that relationships of all kinds, and especially romantic relationships, consume a lot of energy. It's inevitable that you spend a good chunk of your day expending your energy on your partner, but it's necessary that you also spend time expending energy on yourself. Self-growth requires self-care, and self-awareness, which requires introspection. And, of course, introspection requires ample time for yourself, too.
Again, change can be positive when it's organic between two people who are growing together. When your partner expects you to change, however, that can be a red flag. You should never change your style, your views, your body, your friends, your anything for someone else. If you seek that change, do it for you.
It's not always easy to admit that your relationship is an abusive one — either emotionally or physically — but if you're concerned that it may be, it's likely that you're not growing from this relationship. Rather, abuse is rooted in power, and a partner who is abusive is one who wants to assume power of you, to push you to and keep you at a level below them (even though they're the lowly person!). Of course, you may learn a lot from an abusive relationship, but staying in one won't help you grow.
In order to grow into a better person, you need to be open to whatever changes may come your way. If your relationship has been a lot of checking boxes, and you and your partner seem to have a streamlined agenda, there's little wiggle room for other possible opportunities to grow in unexpected ways together.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.
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