Communication and Understanding in Unhealthy Relationships

By: Sydney Fiorentino

“Communication is key” is a common saying amongst people. While this statement is true, we must not overlook the importance of understanding one another. The majority of healthy relationships, whether it be in relationships or friendship, are built upon a solid foundation of open communication. However, a strong relationship also requires a good understanding of one another.

I was in a relationship where I communicated extremely well; however, the person I was with at the time did not understand me and vice versa. Our communication was strong, we clearly expressed how we felt, but the understanding was not quite there. For instance, I’d stay up late and send him appreciations. My love language is words of affirmation and quality time, and my actions reflected that. His love language, though, was not the same. So while he appreciated what I did for him, he did not quite understand why I acted the way I did. Similarly, if a problem were to arise, we’d communicate with each other about how we felt and what our point of view was. However, while he explained his perspective, I never fully understood it at that time. In result, while the issue was talked out, it never felt fully resolved because I didn’t understand where he was coming from.

Another instance of clear communication, but resulting misunderstanding, occurred in one of my friendships. One of my good friends kept calling and texting me when I was either busy or not in the mood to talk; I felt that boundaries were being crossed. At first I was nervous about how I would approach her with this topic in a way she’d understand me. I texted her saying, “Hey, I think we need boundaries. I don’t think we need to call everyday.” I explained further about why and how I was feeling. She acknowledged that she read the message; however, sometimes my boundaries are still crossed to this day. This is where a friendship has the potential to become unhealthy.

Misunderstanding can lead to unhealthy connections in the future. It’s good to be aware of a toxic connection in your life. Growing up, I wasn’t really aware of what a “toxic relationship” meant until I’ve experienced a few and viewed my friends go through them as well. To me, someone who is toxic is someone who crosses your boundaries, makes situations all about them, thinks everyone is on their time, and they negatively affect your mental health. My friend would say a toxic person is “someone who does not respect you, understanding you, or care for you.” Everyone has their own definition of what a toxic person is and the traits vary from person to person. I do believe everyone has their “toxic traits” and it’s good to be aware of your own.

When it comes to unhealthy connections, many of us are not aware that we may be involved in one when we are knee-deep in the situation. According to Healthline, unhealthy relationships include: controlling behaviors, resentment, disrespect, ignoring your needs, lack of self-care, hoping for change, etc. I was unaware about being a toxic relationship until I was out of it. All my friends told me I was in one, but I did not listen to them at the time; it is easy to be blindsided in the moment.

So what do you do if you’re in an unhealthy relationship? My biggest realization was that I should’ve listened to my friends as they have an objective perspective. As you begin to recognize that you are in an unhealthy relationship or friendship, you must acknowledge it. If you want it to work out, both parties have to be willing to change and recognize what actions or behaviors is making the connection unhealthy. Communication as well as understanding have to take place, so blame will not take over. Sometimes people just don’t understand one another, and your characteristics clash. My biggest lesson from my unhealthy relationships is that I did not understand the person and they did not understand me. And though the connection failed because of this lack of understanding, the relationship served as a learning experience for future relationships.