A dysfunctional relationship comes in various forms. You may endure toxic experiences with intimate partners, friends, or even family. What lessons should we learn from this?

The goal, of course, is to have healthy relationships in all areas of life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. In fact, you could be in the middle of a dysfunctional relationship and never know it.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to see the signs of toxic behavior, and so you may think this dysfunctional behavior is normal.

An unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship may look like this:

  • Hostility may be present. One partner may pick fights with the other.
  • There will be control issues.
  • One partner will be dependent on the other for basic needs.
  • There may be instances of physical or sexual violence.
  • Intimidation is a common factor in toxic relationships
  • Disrespect is present.
  • Another common factor is dishonesty.

Lessons you learn from dysfunctional situations

If you’ve already recognized unhealthy behavior in your relationship, then you’re on your way to making changes. And, due to dysfunctional behavior, you’ve probably learned many truths about life and society.

Here are a few lessons learned from these dysfunctional relationships.

1. Relationships involve two people, not one

Did you know relationships grow from the foundation of two or more people, not just one? What I mean by this is that one person should not do all the work to keep the friendship/partnership alive.

Learning this lesson will help you in the future by giving you the strength to speak up. Let your friend or partner know you will not do all the work in the relationship. With this being said, you can avoid another dysfunctional situation.

2. Boundaries are important

Being in a dysfunctional relationship will teach you the importance of boundaries. While being in an unhealthy situation, you may notice that your partner does not respect your space.

You may also experience times when they don’t care about your privacy. They may even push your boundaries concerning your standards and morals.

When you get out of this union, you will see the truth clearly and understand the importance of having healthy boundaries.

3. It’s okay to leave

Another lesson learned from being in an unhealthy relationship is that it’s okay to leave. If you’re unhappy most of the time or your friends are constantly making you angry, it’s okay to consider finding new friends.

This is especially true if your friendship seems one-sided. If you’re being disrespected, it’s an even better reason to consider moving on.

4. Noticing red flags

Reg flags are indicators of future toxic behavior or worsening of existing toxic behavior. And yes, red flags are real. It’s important to pay attention to these indicators as they can prevent you from experiencing abuse, unhappiness, and lost time.

When you endure a dysfunctional relationship and survive to see another day, you will learn to be more sensitive to red flags. Some red flags may include:

  • Love bombing
  • Selfish behavior
  • Deception
  • Disrespect
  • Rudeness to others

5. Listening to others

Maybe your parents and friends don’t know everything that’s good for you. And they probably aren’t experts on your relationship. However, your loved ones can sometimes see toxic behavior in your relationship much sooner than you do.

Learning to listen to other opinions about your relationship may be helpful. Although you don’t have to do everything your parents or friends tell you to do, it helps to see through their eyes for a change.

6. Pay attention to your gut

At times, your gut feeling is incorrect, but honestly, most of the time, your intuition knows things before you do. Listening to your gut, when it comes to your relationship, just might be a smart move.

When you survive a dysfunctional relationship, you might want to pay more attention to what your intuition is telling you.

7. Understand your worth

Toxic relationships will reveal something extraordinary about you–you are always worthy. Many relationships, whether it’s between family, friends, or with an intimate partner, will include physical or emotional abuse.

And when this occurs, your self-esteem can plummet. So, when you leave the dysfunctional situation, you will learn how to find your self-worth again, and realize that you are beautiful.

8. You cannot change people

I’ve gone into relationships seeing the other person as a project. I thought that I could change them. Unfortunately, this never happened, and I was miserable.

You cannot change anyone. Repeat that. YOU CAN NOT CHANGE ANYONE.

Now that you understand, you can experience the next relationship with someone totally different from what you’re used to. Remember, change can only come to those who are ready. If someone doesn’t want to change, you cannot do it for them.

9. Put yourself first

Yes, I said it. And I don’t mean that you should be selfish. What I mean is that you should stop sacrificing everything you want to please another person.

And the truth is, you will learn this quickly after leaving a dysfunctional relationship. After all is said and done, you will notice how much you’ve deprived yourself of basic self-respect.

10. Learning forgiveness

After an unhealthy relationship ends, you will learn how to forgive others and forgive yourself. Now, this doesn’t mean returning to the dysfunctional relationship. It just means being able to do what’s best for your mental health, and that’s total forgiveness.

Learning is a process

You cannot learn everything at once, but life has a way of speeding up this process. Through trial and error, you can improve your life using the lessons learned from dysfunctional relationships. I hope this process is as painful as possible. Good luck.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Jess

    Well.. I hate to say this after you’ve said it in caps, but we can change people, we do it all the time but.. only with small seeds and the level of change is minimal. If they are open to it, it will plant the seed with the little things we say, even in dysfunctional relationships. However, it will for 99% not happen during our time with them.

    In relationships I could be very confrontational when I saw the red flags, instead of ignoring them. These talks were completely disfunctional but the happy outcome was that many saw that they would benefit from therapy. If they are open to that, then you might see a change.

    My exes that went to therapy seem to have long-lasting and better relationships because after the therapy they were open to it. One of my exes caught me during a time I had attachment issues but what he wanted more than anything (and obsessively so), was a relationship and a family with the white picket fence. This caused many toxic confrontations (no hitting or harm but man, could he yell) because I noticed that the women he had a relationship with before me also had the same issues. So I kept asking him why would he want relationships with women that have attachment issues that don’t want children? He was avoiding something inside of him by dating us and hoping that by changing us to commit, his issue would be solved. By the time and because we ended, he went to see a psychiatrist for quite a while and where is he now? He met a woman who asked HIM to marry her and wanted his kids.

    I in turn also went to therapy and noticed I started to have different kinds of people in my life, way less or not toxic at all.

    I really believe that we know more from a person the moment we meet and we “decide” (our brains decide by making us fall in love or attach ourselves) to pursue that person to fix our problems, be it lover or friend.

    I am in no manner dismissing what you say here Sherry! I do believe that showing a different side helps us all be more informed.

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