15 Glaring Signs You're Attracting Unhealthy Love & And How To *Actually* Change Your Patterns

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My 30s were the decade of unhealthy relationships. These relationships dimmed my light and made me unconscious of the reality of what love was.

While I should have known better, it was still hard for me to walk away. I've seen this time and time again with women who contact me about their relationship dilemmas and with clients I've coached.

If it were easy, more women would leave sooner instead of spending so much time with the wrong guys  and in the wrong relationships.

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It's easier to spot if someone else's relationship is healthy or not since you're not involved. When it comes to your own relationship, it can be trickier to know because the signs are subtle and can leave you feeling uncertain and second-guessing yourself. 

If you answer "yes" to any of the scenarios below, chances are your relationship is unhealthy. It's also likely that you've had unhealthy relationships in the past, and some of these statements will reflect those. 

Regardless of how many unhealthy relationships you've had, you can change these patterns. After this list, you will find ten active changes you can make to help you get away from your history of unhealthy relationships and move toward loving, fulfilling and truly mutual ones. 

Fifteen signs you have attracted unhealthy love (and it might just be a pattern)

1. My partner is mentally, physically, or emotionally abusive to me.

2. I am constantly defending or rationalizing my partner's behaviors to my friends, family, and myself.

3. If my best friend was in the kind of relationship I'm in, I would tell her to leave.

4. I keep hoping my partner will change for the better.

5. I am only with him because we have kids together.

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6. I don't look forward to seeing or talking to him.

7. I am unhappier when I'm with him and at the thought of him.

8. I am suspicious of my partner and am afraid to confront him.

9. I feel drained after spending time with him.

10. I don't feel good about myself when I'm with him.

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11. Things don't feel quite right with us.

12. I don't feel supported.

13. We only connect on a superficial level (e.g. sexual chemistry).

14. I can't talk to my partner openly.

15. I feel like I can't completely be myself. I act and behave in a certain way so that my partner will like or love me more.

Note: These scenarios go both ways. For instance, if your partner doesn't feel supported in the relationship, your relationship is unhealthy.

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I know how hard it is to walk away from a guy and a relationship that is not healthy for you.

Yet when you keep focused on the reality of your situation instead of how you want things to be, you will see things more clearly. Continuing to stay in an unhealthy relationship does not make it easier to walk away. When I left my unhealthy relationships, my love life shifted for the better.

Have the courage to walk towards something better.

Having the love you want and deserve takes courage. If you've been thinking about leaving and are having a hard time doing so, you may be focusing on what you don't want (i.e. that you don't want to start over again).

When you focus on what you don't want, you will ignore what's wrong with your situation, keep getting more of the same or not change anything.

Instead, think of it not as leaving, but as walking toward a healthier relationship with someone else. This could mean freeing yourself to start meeting men who are at a good place in their lives.

If you're at the point where you are ready to move forward, these 10 steps will move you toward a healthier relationship. If you're not quite ready, take some time to heal yourself, then practice the steps. 

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10 steps for changing your patterns 

1. Be kind and gentle to yourself.

When things aren't working out the way you'd like, it's easy to judge yourself. Instead, be kind and gentle. Know that every relationship — healthy and unhealthy — serves a purpose.

Each relationship is there for you to learn and grow from. The most important thing is how you respond to what happens to you.

2. Don't take things personally.

Whatever your partner did or didn't want to do, or however he treated you is based on his level of integrity (i.e. who he is and where he is in his life). You just happen to be the person who showed up at this time.

Understanding this will better help you to not take things personally. 

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3. Reflect on your role in relationships — past and present.

Reflect on the same issues and challenges that continue to come up in this and past relationships. Consider how you contributed to these issues and challenges.

For instance, did you stir up troubling situations or escalate things by overreacting? What unhealthy qualities and traits do the guys you've been with share? Why do you suppose you attracted these types of guys into your life? What lessons are you meant to learn from being with them?

How can you feel like you deserve to be with a healthier man moving forward?

4. Prepare yourself by doing the inner work.

After you have figured out how you contributed to the issues and challenges in your relationships, do the inner work to improve yourself in those areas. For instance, if your tendency has been to avoid confrontation whenever sticky situations came up, you will want to work on being able to express yourself at the moment.

Your greatest growth opportunities happen in situations where you feel especially challenged.

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5. Get clear on what you want.

Determine the top five to seven things that are most important for you to have in your ideal partner and relationship. Let's say you want a partner who is loyal, trustworthy, affectionate, a good communicator, intelligent and active. And let's say you want to be in a relationship that is meaningful, flows with ease, is honest, supportive, and respectful.

Being clear on what you want makes it easier to stay on track instead of getting sidetracked by the wrong men and relationships. 

6. Practice being what you want.

We attract who we are and who we are being — not what we want. For the qualities you identified in #5, practice being those very qualities with yourself and in your relationships with friends, family, and co-workers.

The more you embody these qualities, the more you will attract a partner and relationship with these qualities.

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7. Focus on what you want.

If you tend to think about what you don't want, the things you don't want will keep showing up. Instead, keep your focus on the top five to seven things that are most important for you to have in your ideal partner and relationship.

8. Choose in favor of what you want.

Short-term decisions and choices have longer consequences. Whenever you have a choice or decision, make sure you move toward what you want. Ask yourself, "am I making a choice that will move me closer to what I want?"  Your answer will indicate what you should do.

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9. Trust in the process and outcome.

It's human nature to want to feel in control of things, including love. When you find yourself trying to control everything, you will feel stressed, worried, concerned, and unable to relax. When you are clear and focused on what you want, choosing in favor of those things and trusting in the process and outcome becomes easier.

When you can truly understand that everything is happening for your greater good, you will be able to relax more easily and trust in what is meant to be.

10. Get comfortable with the unknown.

Get comfortable with the unknown by expanding your comfort zone. The reason this is important is that you will be changing yourself in positive ways, meeting men who are different, and being treated in ways that you are not used to. All of these scenarios represent change.

Even positive change that is outside of your comfort zone will feel uncomfortable. The more you expand your comfort zone, the more you will journey to love with ease and enjoyment.

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True and Lasting Love Comes Only From A Healthy Relationship

Having true and lasting love takes the courage to make changes from within, the focus to stay the course, and the strength to say "no" to guys and things that aren't good for you. It means letting go of baggage that no longer serves you and being open to good men you normally wouldn't be interested in.

I encourage you to practice these 10 steps to a healthier relationship. Be courageous, let go of baggage, and be open to good men, and you will find true and lasting love.

If you have realized you are now in an unhealthy relationship, what will you start doing to detach yourself from this relationship?

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Janet Ong Zimmerman is a dating/relationship coach who inspires successful women to simplify love and is the founder of Love For Successful Women.