I am a gay person in a questionable relationship. My Mom doesn't like my girlfriend because she, according to my Mom, treats we with disrespect. Maybe I'm so used to it, I don't see it. How do you know if your relationship is not a healthy one?"
Broken Hearted Bess
As a therapist in a medium-small West Texas town, I have dealt with this question numerous times. Thus, I assume in a large city, this issue must be far greater in frequency. As gays are a minority, this issue stands out somewhat more prominently. However, when you look at the whole picture, this is a relevant issue regardless of sexual orientation. So, if you remove the gender orientation issue, the question might be: “Hey John, I seem to have a problem in picking angry men/women for mates. We start off rosy, but two years later, he/she yells at me and becomes massively degrading when angry. Two days later he comes tearfully apologizing for losing his temper. Three weeks later, I’m a worthless, stupid *beep* for making him angry again. Because I pick people like this, am I worthless and stupid ? Do you think I’m a shit magnet?
For both Bessie, and Ms. Magnet, the answer may be the same. A few things are concurrently in play here. With many angry or divorced parents, the kids grow up with no clue on the proper behavior for people when they are angry. They rarely observe good problem resolution skills, and thus anger has no manners. Plus, let’s not forget genetics. If one has inherited a serious anger issue from one parent or the other, it is a lot of work to learn to act like a lady or a gentleman, much less when angry. Please note I did not say impossible, just a lot of work. Secondly, it seems many people are so afraid of being alone, they will make huge compromises in order to have someone at home. Will they eventually become accustomed to this negative existence and subconsciously expect it in future relationships? Quite possibly. Thus, it’s not necessarily being a magnet, but a victim of reduced expectations.
So, what to do? If you are already in a lousy relationship, discuss anger expectations (at least), and prepare yourself for a healthy single existence. As it’s a lot of work to change ourselves, if I could write a book on “How To Change Other People”, I’d be a zillionaire.
Eventually meet people in positive places, not some crappy bar. Don’t be pathetic and move in with each other quickly. The dating gig takes plenty of dating time. Learn to expand your physical and intellectual activities. In other words, do healthy stuff for yourself.
As for proper rules of a healthy relationship, here are only a few:
*go out of your way for each other
*help each other feel good about yourselves
*extend kindness, even in anger
*in anger, don’t say anything you later wish you hadn’t said
*pay attention to observed good relationships. Even in movies, but better yet with your own eyeballs, learn by observing great people. Pay attention. Try to copy greatness.
We are supposed to making up our own book of our life. Why accept mediocrity, or worse, a lousy life? Dream of happiness, and always work towards it.