By Manisha Dhingra
Ever had a moment when you looked at that supposedly great guy/ girl in your life and wondered: “What the hell am I doing with this person?”
Worry not! Such moments occur even in the best of relationships. It’s only when this feeling spins out of control that you have a real problem on your hands. As Dr. Anshu Kulkarni puts it: “The most important sign of a healthy relationship is to see whether there is good and healthy communication between the two of you. There should be no big differences of opinion and no huge arguments. Both people should be able to share their feelings and enjoy quality time together.” Dr. Kulkarni is a Relationship and Child Psychiatrist at Raheja Fortis Hospital in Mahim, Mumbai.
Relationships are not always as simple as that. Everyone knows that opposites attract. For many couples, the differences of opinion and the arguments are exactly what keep the relationship alive. Take 27-year-old Ishi Gupte, for instance. “I love my boyfriend to bits!” she says, “We’ve lived together for the past six years and the chemistry is still so hot and sizzling. I think it is due to the fact that we fight so often and one of us always has to compromise to keep the peace. But then we have awesome make-up sex and everything is rocking again!” she laughs.
The promise of compromise
Going by the clinical definition, Ishi’s relationship should have kept her very miserable indeed. But what makes it work is the ‘C’ word – Compromise. “Compromise is when person A understands person B and vice versa, and shifts his/ her likes and dislikes happily according to that of the partner’s – without affecting the relationship. Being dominated is completely different and it happens when one partner dictates what is to be done or not,” shares Dr. Kulkarni.
“Compromise is about willingly doing something for your partner’s sake after which you feel good and happy. However, if you do something only because your partner is dominating, then you feel forced into something you do not like and that disturbs the relationship to a large extent,” cautions Dr. Ripan Sippy, Clinical Psychologist at Delhi’s West Side Clinic.
In Indian society, dating and marriage are often too deeply entwined with each other. Like it or not, beyond a certain age, almost everyone you date is going to analyse you from the ‘husband/ wife material’ point of view. “A prospective spouse’s family plays a very important part in the relationship’s survival. After marriage, one needs to get accustomed with the family as well,” states Dr. Rupa Talukdar, Chief Executive Counsellor, Mind’’s Eye – a Centre for Psychological Well-being and Rejuvenation, Kolkata.
According to psychology, partners often try to find a parental trait in their partners. “As psychologists, if any problem arises between a couple, we first start looking at the ‘parental figure’ aspect. Some time ago, a couple approached me for advice. The girl said that her boyfriend often got very angry and would abuse her – even when everything was going perfectly fine. After a few tests, we determined that the girl possessed various traits of the boy’s father. Therefore, unable to vent his anger at his father, the guy would abuse his girlfriend! From this, you can see how much family matters in some relationships,” reveals Dr. Sippy.
Signs of a healthy relationship:
- Good & healthy communication
- Few disagreements/ arguments
- Mutual caring and loyalty
- Willingness to compromise
- Positive attitude towards fulfilling responsibilities
Signs of an unhealthy relationship:
- Lots of conflicts, lack of mutual understanding
- Distracted mental state; poor performance at your job
- Unwillingness to compromise or be flexible
- One of the partners acting too restrictive, abusive or possessive
- Ignoring or neglecting each other
If you are in an unhealthy relationship…
…consider premarital counselling if marriage or a long-term commitment is on the cards
…communicate and try to resolve the issue
…appreciate each other and spend time together
…approach someone that both partners respect, for advice
…opt for professional advice/ counselling
…if nothing works, break up and stay out of touch with each other