The Unhealthiest Things We've Done for Love: Shining a Light on Dysfunctional Patterns and Embracing Authenticity

June 12, 20246 min read

“I don’t get to be in a toxic relationship and say "but I love them", if loving them traumatizes my children. By choosing that toxic love over my kids wellbeing, I become their abuser.” - Dr. Ashleigh Moreland

Welcome to another blog post inspired by Episode 62 of the Re-MIND Podcast [watch here or listen here]. I’m Dr. Ashleigh Moreland, and today we are going to chat about some of the unhealthiest things we do for love (including a past version of me!!). This aims to expose the ways we may abandon our true selves in the name of love, and offer practical tools to foster healthier, more authentic relationships.

Understanding Dysfunctional Love

Dysfunctional love often manifests in ways that seem self-sacrificial or considerate but are, in fact, detrimental to our well-being. The root of these behaviours can often be traced back to nervous system dysregulation and trauma responses, which compel us to act out of fear rather than love.

Identifying Unhealthy Love

Compromising Authenticity: One of the clearest signs of unhealthy love is compromising your authentic self to please your partner. This can include changing your appearance, hobbies, or interests to align with your partner's preferences. For example, if you love painting but stop because your partner deems it a waste of time, you're abandoning a part of yourself.

Isolation from Support Systems

Distancing yourself from friends and family to prioritise your partner can be a red flag. Healthy relationships support and encourage external connections. If you find yourself skipping important social events or avoiding family gatherings because your partner disapproves, it's time to reassess.

Enduring Disrespect and Abuse

Tolerating disrespectful or abusive behaviour in the name of love is one of the most damaging things you can do. Love should never require you to sacrifice your dignity or safety. If you’re staying in a relationship where your self-esteem is constantly under attack, it's crucial to seek help and reevaluate your situation.

Suppressing Your Needs and Desires

Consistently putting your partner's needs above your own can lead to resentment and burnout. Healthy love involves mutual respect and consideration, where both partners' needs are valued and met.

Practical Tools for Recognising and Overcoming Unhealthy Love

Self-Reflection and Journaling

Start by reflecting on your relationship and journaling your feelings. Ask yourself:

Do I feel like my true self in this relationship?

Am I making sacrifices that feel detrimental to my well-being?

Do I feel isolated from my support system?

Writing down your thoughts can help you gain clarity and recognise patterns that you may have overlooked.

Establishing Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are essential for maintaining your sense of self in a relationship. They protect your emotional, physical, and mental well-being. Here are steps to establish boundaries:

Identify Your Limits: Understand what makes you uncomfortable or stressed in the relationship.

Communicate Clearly: Have honest conversations with your partner about your needs and limits.

Stick to Your Boundaries: Consistently enforce your boundaries and reassess them as needed.

Seeking Support from a Therapist

Working with a trauma-informed therapist (reach out to us on our Re-MIND Institute socials or email [email protected] - this is our expertise!!) can provide you with the tools to heal and grow. A therapist can help you understand the roots of your behaviours and develop strategies for healthier relationships. Look for professionals who specialise in trauma-informed healing and mind-body wellness.

Reconnecting with Your Authentic Self

Rediscovering who you are outside of the relationship is crucial. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment. This could be a hobby you’ve neglected or new experiences that resonate with you. The key is to choose activities that align with your true self.

Practising Self-Compassion

Be kind to yourself as you navigate this journey. Acknowledge that recognising and changing unhealthy patterns is a process. Celebrate small victories and be patient with yourself.

Reconnecting with Your Authentic Self

Rediscovering who you are outside of the relationship is crucial. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment. This could be a hobby you’ve neglected or new experiences that resonate with you. The key is to choose activities that align with your true self.

Scenarios and Tangible Coaching Elements

Scenario 1: The People-Pleaser

You’ve always been the one to compromise and make sacrifices to keep your partner happy. While it may seem noble, this often leaves you feeling exhausted and unappreciated. Recognising that YOU are choosing to over-give is both confronting and empowering, because it also means YOU can make different choices - ones that honour YOU.

Coaching Tip: Practice assertive communication. Instead of always saying yes, start with small no’s. For example, if your partner wants to go out, but you need rest, say, "I appreciate the invitation, but I need to rest tonight."

Scenario 2: The Isolated Individual

You used to have a vibrant social life, but since entering this relationship, you’ve found yourself increasingly isolated.

Coaching Tip: Schedule regular time with friends and family. Communicate to your partner that maintaining these connections is important to you and beneficial for the relationship. If they give you ultimatums or threaten your relationship, this is a HUGE red flag and you are on a path of losing your sense-of-self, out of fear of losing them (spoiler alert - it is NEVER worth it!).

Scenario 3: The Fixer

You find yourself constantly trying to solve your partner’s problems, often at the expense of your own well-being.

Coaching Tip: Encourage self-reliance in your partner by stepping back and offering support rather than solutions. Say, "I’m here for you. What do you need right now?"

Embracing Healthy Love (more on this next week, but here’s a sneak peak):

Healthy love enhances your life and allows you to be your true self. It involves mutual respect, support, and growth. Here’s what healthy love looks like:

Here’s what healthy love looks like:

Mutual Respect: Both partners respect each other's individuality and boundaries.

Open Communication: Honest and transparent communication is the foundation.

Emotional Support: Both partners offer and receive emotional support.

Shared Values: Having aligned values and goals strengthens the relationship.

Personal Growth: Each partner encourages and supports the other's personal growth.

Moving Forward

Recognising unhealthy patterns in love is the first step towards healthier, more fulfilling relationships. By implementing these practical tools and reflecting on your experiences, you can move towards a love that is nurturing and life-giving.

Next week, we will explore the flip side: What does healthy love look like? We’ll dive into the smartest things you can do for love and how to cultivate relationships that allow both partners to thrive.

Stay tuned, and remember to subscribe to our podcast and blog for more insights and resources, and head on over to our private facebook community ‘Heart-Centred Healing Hub’. Share your experiences with us in the comments or on social media. Your journey towards healthier love starts now.

Dr Ashleigh Moreland best selling author photo for Conscious Revolution book

Dr Ashleigh Moreland

Dr Ashleigh Moreland is a passionate advocate for personal and professional development, dedicated to helping individuals achieve holistic well-being. With a background in neuroscience and holistic health, Ashleigh combines scientific insights with spiritual practices to guide others in balancing logic and intuition. As the founder of Re-MIND Institute, Ashleigh has empowered countless people to transform their lives through mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and self-awareness.

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