Most of us have been there, in the drudges of a relationship that we knew wasn’t good for us, but we just couldn’t quite break it off, for whatever reason. Maybe we were too in love with a bad boy, too tied to the arrangement because of co-habitation, or perhaps it was a little contractual agreement known as marriage and/or children.
In any event, we are here to tell you that staying in a bad relationship can do you far more harm than good. The evidence? Your health. Studies have repeatedly proven that those who endure in bad relationships experience notable negative impacts on their health.
A relationship is obviously not a healthy one if there is any abuse or involved, but there are more subtle indicators to help flesh out those gray areas. If a relationship is more critical than supportive, if a partner is frequently disrespectful and non-communicative, and if you spend more time feeling stressed than joyful, your relationship may be wreaking havoc on your health.
How relationships affect health
Bad relationships can:
1. Deteriorate mental health: negativity and criticism can erode your self-worth, and regularly riding the emotional rollercoaster of a bad relationship can leave you in a constant state of crisis and reactivity. Not good news for your long-term mental health. Negative relationships can increase your risk of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
2. Cause you to gain weight around the midsection: amplified exposure to stress elevates cortisol, known as the stress hormone, levels. Cortisol is infamous for helping you pack on belly fat. Also, we may use eating as a coping mechanism to deal with our troubled relationship, further contributing to unhealthy weight gain.
3. Impact cardiovascular health: people in bad relationships experience markedly higher chances of experiencing a cardiac event than their happily-paired or single counterpart. All that stress can impact the heart.
4. Increase blood pressure and blood sugar: Cortisol, that pesky stress hormone is at play here again. Sustaining elevated levels of cortisol can raise our blood pressure and blood sugar, putting you at a greater risk for an array of diagnoses including stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
5. Weaken your immune system: People in negative relationships show weakened immune systems, leaving them susceptible to getting sick more often, a greater risk of infection, and longer healing times following physical trauma or surgery.
6. Decrease your physical fitness. People in bad relationships are far less likely to exercise and eat well.
So there you have it, folks. If you stay in that highly dysfunctional relationship with the oh-so-sexy bad boy, you will end up depressed, anxious, fat, sick, and on a heart monitor.
All jokes aside, bad relationships can be tough to walk away from, but remember what’s at stake here, and perhaps that can help motivate you. Very few lovers are worth sacrificing years off of your life for: here’s to finding a functional relationship where you don’t have to.