Updated: May 3
As a professional Mediator, I am privy to many different conversations and topics. One specific thing I’ve noticed in the past few years is an interesting shift in dynamics that is leading to toxic relationships for many. It’s impacting our families and overall communication with others, and it’s worth discussing.
Years ago, when we studied about healthy family dynamics, we reflected on what we were doing and bringing to the table as far as our own health contributing to a relationship. Here are a few of the key hallmarks of healthy relationships (bolded) from the family literature fifteen years ago:
Initiative vs. Idleness: Recognizing and doing what needs to be done before being asked.
Flexibility vs. Resistance: Willingness to change plans or approaches based on new or different things that arise.
Responsibility vs. Unreliability: Knowing and doing the things you are expected to do.
Availability vs. Self-Centredness: Yielding your own schedule and priorities to help others.
Hospitality vs. Loneliness: Making people feel welcome and comfortable.
Respect vs. Disrespect: Respecting everyone because of their unique design and value.
Endurance vs. Discouragement: The inward strength to withstand stress and do your best.
Persuasiveness vs. Complacency: Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks.
Creativity vs. Passiveness: Approaching a need, a task, or idea with a new perspective.
Compassion vs. Indifference: Investing whatever is necessary to heal the hurts of others.
While those values still hold true, in today’s environment we are seeing two words come to the forefront of a healthy relationship: Equality and Validation. Both of these words come down to fostering mutual respect in order to create a deeper, emotional connection by making your partner feel understood.
However, out of this new definition we are becoming more codependent on our partner to make us feel validated versus recognizing what role we play in the functionality or dysfunction of our relationships. It is not so much about what you are doing to create a healthy relationship, but how you are making someone else feel to define whether your relationship is healthy or not. It’s easy to notice when others around us are toxic, but do we recognize when we are the ones hurting our own relationships?
The question now seems to be, “what is the other party doing to make you feel good about your own beliefs?” And if they do not believe or think the same way I do, then this relationship is perceived as unhealthy or unsafe. Yet in reality, healthy relationships come from having connections with people from a broad spectrum of beliefs and thought processes.
So, this leads me to ask, “What are you doing to foster meaningful conversations and connections with a variety of people who are different from yourself?” Feel free to share in the Comments section below.
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- Laura Rosal, MA Qualified Mental Health Professional & Mediator