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How to Develop the Unhealthy Relationship You've Always Wanted

Updated on August 22, 2013

As Unhealthy as You Make It

So, you're looking to build an unhealthy relationship? Well, you're not alone. Too often, couples fall into safe, comfortable patterns; these men and women regard each other with mutual respect and a sense of integrity. Drama and friction rarely distract these pairs from their unending commitment.

It really doesn't have to be this way. It's more than possible to join the millions of couples who endure dysfunctional relationships. All you need is a little lack of foresight and a little lack of know-how, and you can waste years of your life in a loveless union. The recipe is simple: seek out your self-worth in another, suffer from codependency or detachment, and make sure to blame your partner for your own inadequacies.

Seeking Out False Self-Esteem

One of the surest ways to build an unhealthy relationship is to wrap your self-esteem up in someone else. Young couples are notorious for this. They inherently understand that the path to ruin is to worry over every word, every expression, every moment; they ask "What are you thinking about?" back and forth repeatedly, in an effort to solidify their shaky ground. People who search for their self-esteem in others always decide that the world is ok or isn't ok based on what their partners are feeling. If you land in such a relationship, you'll find yourself fretting endlessly over what kind of a mood he or she will be in tonight; you'll find yourself supporting almost every opinion expressed by your mate (isn't it great, you'll think at first, that we agree on so much). When you're apart, you'll notice that there's a queasy void inside you that grows until you reunite, and you'll secretly reason that it must be love. Unless the "outside" world intervenes, you'll define love this way for many years. Everything feels right only when you are within arm's reach of your significant other.

Seeking out your self-worth in another is a great way to build an unhealthy relationship, but it helps to have low self-esteem before romance comes around. It's tough to enter a relationship with a strong, centered sense of identity and then lose it. It can be done if your partner is willing to chip away endlessly at your self-worth, but it's a long road. Keep trying!

Too Close or Too Far Apart

Another way to maintain an unhealthy relationship is to be codependent with your partner. Much like when couples find a sense of self in each other, some pairs develop a toxic need to be together at all times. It's true that young couples often fall into this trap, but the reality is that it can happen to people of all ages. They travel together to every social occasion, sometimes in "parent" and "child" roles; they accompany one another on every meaningless errand. They justify being glued at the hip by explaining that they are madly in love, but friends start falling by the wayside (one or the other doesn't approve of that friend) and the interaction between the two begins to feel tense to their families. Conversations with the pair become arduous affairs: there's no getting an answer from one without the other chiming in. A codependent couple is an unhealthy amalgamation of two minds, a losing of two selves for the sake of one poorly conceived union. In other words, fun!

Detached couples are as common as codependent ones. These couples likely started on fire; they felt a burning passion, and decided to carry that passion into a permanent togetherness. When the sizzle started to sputter, these couples (or one member of the couple) often will go to extremes to get the "magic" back: exotic trips, highly unusual intimate settings, expensive playthings. Regardless, though, the blind intensity fades, and the couple becomes detached through what feels like an endless series of days of he's-doing-this and she's-doing-that and isn't-it-great-how-we-can-both-do-our-own-things-and-still-be-ok. After a while, one or the other gets the notion that being alone in a couple isn't all that much fun, and something needs to change. Alcohol or drugs might creep into the equation (or have been there all along, simmering on a back burner), and very often, what ultimately changes is that the departing member of the detached couple finds a crazy kind of "magic" with someone new, and the cycle repeats itself. Being detached from your loved one is a sound option when attempting to cultivate an unhealthy relationship, so give it a whirl.

The Blame Game

Whether you're currently engaged in an unhealthy relationship or looking to start one, keep in mind that all such alliances have one thing in common: blame. It's impossible to have a truly dysfunctional connection with someone without a persistent, bitter habit of blaming that individual for all of life's woes. Perhaps you've never made as much money as you would have liked; perhaps your children have made a series of unhealthy choices of their own. Perhaps you look back on the last twenty years as a tremendous waste, and see no chance of things getting better. In an unhealthy relationship, it's all his or her fault. There should be no hesitation to blame your partner for all of your shortcomings. Sometimes this takes the form of abuse, and sometimes it takes the form of callous bickering. I've spent unfortunate evenings with couples who snipe continually about what's being eaten, what's being worn, what's being said. Nothing is ever good enough about each other for these people, because they never feel good enough about themselves. They're a blast.

Partners who blame each other do so from a place of hurt, but rather than attempt to heal the pain, they only dispense more of it to others. It takes the form of an endless, hurtful cycle. This is an excellent approach to forming an unhealthy bond.

You're on Your Way to Impairment

It could be that you're already on your way to developing a solidly unhealthy relationship. Make sure to take the time to reflect on all that you and your partner share, and mimic the descriptions outlined here. It's not too hard to turn a promising connection into something sour, given the proper lack of planning and a poor work ethic. You'll find dysfunction a consistently unrewarding means of loving another. You, too, can live miserably if you're up for it.

Of course, another choice would be to strive towards a healthy relationship, but seriously, who has the time for that?


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    • shogan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New England

      Thank you, fucsia. I wish I always practiced what I preach. It's essential to step back from your own relationship to give it an honest look. I haven't done enough of that myself lately.

    • fucsia profile image


      7 years ago

      You have described very well the unhealthy ways to have a relationship. In one of mine former relationship I ruined my self-esteem. It was hard and painful see the reality, but know I am healed. This is an argument very interesting also because there are many couples in an unhealthy relationship, seems that the solitude and the emotional indipendence scare them.

    • shogan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New England

      izettl, I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it. I debated whether I should be so satirical, but I figured if I stayed consistent with it, I was good to go. "This wouldn't have happened if you..." is a perfect lead-in when you're trying to establish a series of back-and-forth blamings. ;)

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      so perfect- you hit the nail on the head with this. I love the blatant satire/sarcasm. The one I'm really good at is the blame game. It's best when you start it out as "this wouldn't have happened if you...". I loved this hub- voted up!

    • shogan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New England

      Thanks, Denise. Yeah, I was surprised, too...I figured I must be losing my touch. Either that, or people are far more literal than I think. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Great angle on the unhealthy relationship topic. I'm surprised no one has clicked 'funny' yet, so I did. Loved it. Sarcasm runs in my paternal family of origin so my siblings and I got a 'healthy' dose of it while growing up, LOL

    • shogan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New England

      If that man-metaphor works for ya, then go for it! Seriously, you're right, DIFH. There's nothing worth having in the long run that isn't work in the short run.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A healthy relationship does take a ton of time and energy! Whew!

      Negative relationships can take a lot out of you, too. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

      Maybe like maintaining a vehicle. You will save a lot of money at first by not tuning it and lubing it, but you will pay far more in the end when it breaks down prematurely.

    • shogan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New England

      Thanks, Ian! It's really nice to hear from you...I hope everything's going well. :)

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Excellent, Shogan. I love the way you have developed this theme so clverly. I think it is so well written, I think it deserves a vote UP and a USEFUL. Thank you.

    • shogan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New England

      Thanks, prairieprincess. :)

      Whenever I write something like this, I always dread the comment that goes: "Hey, why are you advocating unhealthy relationships? That's not right!"

      I'm so glad your relationship is on a good path.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      7 years ago from Canada

      Lovely! I love your sarcasm! You make very solid points about bad relationships. When my husband and I first got married, I was probably guilty of all of these. We almost didn't make it, but with God's help, we pulled through, and are actually enjoying a HEALTHY relationship! Who would have thought?

      Thank you for a beautiful hub. I look forward to browsing more of yours in the months to come!


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