Saturday, June 4, 2016

7 Freedoms of Healthy Equal Relationships

A healthy relationship between you and another person, be it a family member, a spouse, a romantic partner or a friend must be equal in order to be successful. This means that you are balanced in terms of the respect and space you give one another to express feelings and be an individual.

A healthy, equal relationship includes the following characteristics:

1. Freedom to Raise Grievances

A healthy relationship is an equal relationship where either party is free to raise grievances whenever necessary to keep interactions balanced and comfortable for both people. If you are in a friendship where you feel uncomfortable setting boundaries or bringing up negative aspects of the other person's behavior towards you, then your relationship is most likely unequal and therefore unhealthy. If a person minimizes your feelings or mocks your boundaries then you're dealing with someone who is not an equal partner or friend. Someone who refuses to respect your right to express how their behavior is negatively affecting you is someone who is seeking power and control over you--hardly an equal scenario.

When grievances are raised, a healthy person seeking an equal relationship is able to tolerate the feelings of the other person and make changes or negotiate where appropriate. A healthy person respects the other person's right to have feelings, needs and wants that are separate. A healthy person seeks equal relationships that meet the needs of both parties without bull-dozing or stepping on toes.
Accountability for behavior is a fundamental key to empowerment in interpersonal relations. Knowing your own wants and needs and asserting yourself in pursuit of those needs is one part of the equation. The other part is expecting others to be as responsible in their responses to you once you have made your concerns known.

Dr. George Simon, PhD
Counseling Resources

2. Freedom to Make Choices as to Who You Want in Your Life

A healthy relationship involves the freedom to make choices in your life, such as who you want to engage with and who you do not. A person who interferes with your choices in friends is stepping out of their role and into your personal business. We each have the right to choose to be around whomever we choose. If you find that a friend is abusive toward you and not someone you want to hang around, your partner or spouse or other friend(s) should be supportive of your decision to do so without ridiculing you, guilt-tripping you or trying to force you to be friends with someone you've written off for your own reasons. You have the right to decide who you want in your life.

If you have a friend who is constantly belittling your choices in who to date, this is control, not friendship. This can be done directly and/or covertly. Take notice of how your so-called friends bash your dating choices or other friends. Controlling people often try to manipulate others into removing other friends and relationship prospects in your life in order to isolate you and be your soul source of "affirmation."

3. Freedom to Believe as You Choose to Believe 

A healthy relationship allows both parties the freedom to believe as they believe. If your mother resents your religious preferences and chooses to belittle you, convert you or shame you for your life choices, then you're mother is trying to exert power and control over you and if you allow such to continue, the relationship will be unequal. No one has the right to tell you how to believe. You should not have to adjust your life to please a person with whom you are in an equal relationship.

4. Freedom to Say No

A healthy relationship is one in which you can say no and set limits without being retaliated against. Everyone has the right to say no. If you don't want to go to dinner because you have a headache, it is your right to say no. If you don't want to talk on the phone because you're busy with something else, you have a right to say no. If you don't want to let someone wear your favorite outfit, you have the right to say no. A relationship in which you are made to feel obligated to do whatever the other person wants by various means of manipulation is a relationship that is unequal and not in your favor.

5. Freedom to Change Your Mind

A healthy friendship is one in which you are free to change your mind. Changing your mind is a right of every human being. This is not about being wishy-washy, but rather about honest need to change your mind on occasion. A healthy person will not take offense to you changing your mind, but will give you the freedom to do so without questioning you or trying to make you feel bad.

6. Freedom to Do Your Own Thing

An equal relationship is one in which both parties are free to do their own thing without worrying about hurting the other person. This means you are free to have the career of your choice, the relationships you choose and spend your time in the manner that you choose. If you feel that you cannot do anything without upsetting your partner, then this is a sign of enmeshment, which is an unhealthy attachment. Healthy people are separate people who have the inner strength to come together with others without being fearful of the individuality of each one. You shouldn't feel the need to cut things out of your life that you love for a new love interest. You need to be able to keep your life going while being able to come together with your love for a healthy relationship.
A person who respects boundaries, sets limits, won’t excuse inappropriate conduct, keeps communication direct, etc. makes his or her needs known and makes decisions about how to respond to actions and situations that threaten those needs. All this can be done without hostility, blaming, resentment, or undue fanfare. It’s simply a matter of taking care of oneself and not feeling responsible for anything or anyone else.

Dr. George Simon, PhD
Counseling Resources 

7. Freedom to Look How You Want to Look

A healthy relationship is one in which you are free to look as you look without your partner or family member making snide comments or giving back-handed compliments. You are free to wear the clothes that you feel comfortable wearing, doing your hair in a way that you desire, color your nails and wear make-up in any fashion you deem acceptable. A friend who makes a cutting remark directly or indirectly regarding how you look is not a true friend--but rather, someone who is seeking to put you down, one-up you and control how you see yourself. This is not love! It is controlling and manipulative for someone to make comments about how you look. True friends respect the differences in each other and give each other the space and the freedom to be who they are and look how they want to look. When people try to change you, this is a sign that they're trying to control you.

Ways Manipulative People One-Up You

When someone is trying to control you, one-up you or put you down, their purpose is not healthy, but rather, they want to gain power over you and make you feel small. People who are disordered in their character may not come right out and try to control you or put you down directly. Instead, they may use subtle or covert methods to manipulate you into complying with their demands. They may also try to make you feel guilty, obligated or ashamed of yourself. Here is a quick list of ways manipulative people will try to gain control over your individual rights, making your relationship unequal.
  • Silent Treatment
  • Withdrawal of Affection
  • Ghosting You - Disappearing
  • Speaking negatively about someone who has characteristics like you that they want to alter.
  • Ostracizing You - Not inviting you to events.
  • Flirting with your date or your ex-boyfriend
  • Refusing to hear your side of the story.
  • Yelling at you for no reason.
  • Gaslighting you.
  • Minimizing your concerns.
  • Gossiping about others to cause division
  • Creating triangles with other people.
  • Stonewalling / Ignoring You
  • Giving excuses instead of apologizing 
  • Making a joke of your boundary
  • Being dramatic
  • Abuse you 
  • Backhanded compliment
  • Change the subject
 These are just a few of the ways manipulative people can gain power over you and cause your relationship to be unequal and to control you.

Once you have spoken up clearly for yourself, it’s important to expect simple, direct, straightforward, and unambiguous responses and answers to questions. Anything short of that is likely to represent an attempt at manipulation.

Dr. George Simon, PhD
Counseling Resources


A healthy relationship is one in which you are free to be who you are without being abused, manipulated, guilted or shamed by the other person. If you allow yourself to be exposed to unhealthy people and remain in unhealthy relationships where your basic rights are disrespected, it will eventually begin to wear on your self esteem and sense of self worth. People who are not healthy will seek to control others in order to gain power over them. Narcissists seek to sadistically abuse and use people by gaining control over them. You want to steer clear of relationships that are unhealthy and guide yourself towards relationships that are equal and fulfilling for both of you.

You deserve the best treatment. Choosing the right relationships is an important way to love yourself.

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