7 Critical Differences Between A Healthy Relationship & One That's Too Good To Be True
At the beginning of relationships, when everything is still relatively new, it can seem like you're wrapped up in the bubble of your new relationship, when everything is full of excitement. But after a certain point, if things continue to seem like they're in a perpetual "honeymoon stage," you might start to question whether your relationship really is a happy, healthy relationship or if it's not quite what it seems. Some of the critical differences between a healthy relationship and one that's too good to be true can, if you recognize them in your own relationship, help you determine where your relationship actually lies.
"Too good to be true is an interesting concept, as it subconsciously reflects the ways partners feel about themselves," Silvia M. Dutchevici, MA, LCSW, the president and founder of the Critical Therapy Center, tells Romper in an email exchange. "'Too good' implies that one or both partners feel undeserving of a good relationship. Oftentimes, the people we choose to be in relationships with reflect something about ourselves we are working through, therefore if one partner is insecure, the likelihood that the other is also insecure is high. When two insecure people get together it is highly unlikely that the relationship can thrive."
Though healthy relationships can sometimes share some similarities, on the surface, with relationships that ultimately are too good to be true or unlikely to work out long-term, the critical differences between these two types of relationships are probably things about which you should be aware because, ultimately, relationships that are too good to be true probably aren't so good for you. And recognizing that sooner rather than later might save you a lot of heartache later on.
1. Your Relationship Doesn't Have Any Boundaries
Though you might think that healthy relationships are boundary-free, which partners telling each other everything, doing most things together, and the like, that's actually not the case. "A 'too good to be true' couple is probably one where partners are enmeshed with each other and have no boundaries," Dutchevici says. "Unfortunately, our cultural narrative around relationships often portrays this type of couple." Healthy relationships (of all kinds) have some boundaries.
2. Your Relationship Doesn't Have Any Room For Growth
As your relationship goes on, the two of you should be able to grow as individuals and as a couple, as friends and lovers. But in relationships that are too good to be true, that doesn't happen.
"A healthy relationship is built on friendship, trust, commitment and communication. These are factors in which every relationship should be built upon, and friendship is the foundation that leads to trust, commitment and communication," Dr. LaWanda N. Evans, LPC, a licensed professional counselor, tells Romper in an email exchange.
In relationships that are too good to be true, that foundation of friendship isn't there. "There's no room for growth or for friendship, it's more of going through the motion and not addressing problems that come up in the relationship because of the fear of losing each other or being single again," Evans says.
3. Everything In Your Relationship Seems Perfect
If things seem perfect, the relationship is probably too good to be true. Dr. Patrick Wanis, PhD, a human behavior and relationship expert, tells Romper that, in healthy relationships, couples should disagree from time to time. If you don't, it could be another sign that your relationship is too good to be true. "Because there cannot be a relationship where there’s never any disagreements, where both people see eye-to-eye on every single thing, and no matter what mistakes you make the person is either completely forgiving or completely understanding and you’re not seeing any sign of any issues," he explains. "And the reason I’m saying that is everyone has some issues underneath."
4. Your Gut Tells You It's Too Good To Be True
Wanis says that if your relationship seems like it's too good to be true, if your intuition is telling you that it is, then you should probably listen to that because it's probably true. If your gut is telling you this and you see other signs that your relationship is too good to be true, it might be time for some reflection on the relationship and what you want.
5. You Ignore The Differences You Have With Your Partner
"Mutual respect is a key ingredient to a healthy relationship; without respect couples can’t navigate the many challenges of life," Dutchevici says. "Accepting your partner as an Other — accepting that [they are] different than you, with different views, feelings and ideas is essential. In the fantasy version of this, it becomes difficult to accept each other’s differences, since couples who think they are in a relationship that is too good to be true assume they are similar and hence 'meant to be.' In healthy relationships, couples learn to negotiate and accept each other’s differences, rather than seek enmeshment. In [a] too good to be true version, couples assume that they think alike, or see the world the same way all the time."
The two of you aren't the same in every way and if you're unable to see, acknowledge, and deal with the differences between you, the relationship may not actually be as healthy (and potentially long-lasting) as you might think that it is.
6. Your Partner Says Yes To Everything You Do Or Say
If your partner always says yes to everything you do, say, or want, that's another potential sign that things are too good to be true, Wanis says. He notes that it might be that they're an enabler or that, at some point, it's assumed the real people will emerge. Evans also says that this particular factor can be an issue.
"These types of behaviors can create an unhealthy relationship, which causes people to lose their identity in the relationship, lose their voice, and change parts of their personality that makes them unique, just to satisfy their partner," Evans says. "This is what leads people to becoming more like dissatisfied roommates; the relationship has no substance and they only talk to each other if they have something in common."
7. You See Intimacy As An Endpoint
"In [a] healthy relationship, partners remember that intimacy is a dance, meaning sometimes you are close to each other, and sometimes you may pull away," Dutchevici says. "Too good to be true [relationships] understand intimacy as a destination with an arrival point. Rather than focusing on the journey, they focus on milestones."
Your healthy relationship shouldn't have "destination" points, but rather, should ebb and flow as time goes on.
Though very few people probably want to face the facts that their relationship might be too good to be true instead of the healthy, happy, long-term relationship they were hoping it was, these critical differences give you some insight into what might be going on and allow you to reflect on what you want and where things might be going in the future.