7 years ago I left my abusive relationship of 6 years (both emotional and physical abuse).

I got into that relationship at a very young age – 14 years old without any education or knowledge of what a healthy relationship should be. The first six months were packed with lots of romance and infatuated feelings, then I spent the next five and a half years being physically and emotionally abused by the man I thought was the love of my life.

It took me a long time to face my reality. I am so proud of myself for having had the courage to walk out and start my life again. Looking back, the journey hasn’t been easy and I wish the conversations around relationships (especially relationship abuse) had been openly discussed.

No one teaches relationship skills at school, yet it is the number one skill that we all need on a daily basis. For many, including myself, we had to learn the hard way. Going into a relationship without proper knowledge or education is like jumping out of a plane without a parachute and hoping somehow we’ll survive.

When you get into a new relationship, it is very easy to get infatuated and feel like you have found ‘the one’. Don’t get carried away with your feelings. It is extremely important to remember to also bring your mind and intuition into the ‘game’ and stay grounded. Understanding about relationship warning signs allow you to navigate the different stages of a relationship and to recognise problems you may need to address.

Here are 30 warning signs for an unhealthy or dysfunctional relationship:

– You stop communicating with one another. You shut down or withdraw from the other person.

– Your partner actively tries to cut you off from your support network of friends and family.

– He/she makes you feel inferior, unworthy or unlovable. Saying such things as “No one will ever love you the way I do”, “No one else will want you” etc.

– Your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries. Your saying “No” does not mean much to them.

– He or she forces or heavily influences you to do something that is negative or uncomfortable to you, such as drugs, alcohol, etc.

– Your partner doesn’t make you feel good about your body; they may point out things like your thinning hair or saggy underarm skin.

– You don’t have a sense of relationship security—you’ve broken up or almost broken up numerous times.

– Your conversations heavily involve screaming, nagging, yelling or blaming each other.

– Your partner is dismissive of your emotions or feelings.

– You feel worse about yourself as a person than when you started the relationship—you’re less confident and can see fewer positive qualities about yourself.

– Your partner doesn’t seem interested when you experience success, or they belittle your success.

– Your partner demonstrates behaviours such as lying, cheating etc.

– When he or she is constantly checking up on you, your whereabouts, activities, phone messages or emails etc.

– When the relationship is one-sided. It’s their way or the highway.

– They constantly express their outbursts of temper in a negative way.

– When you have massive conflicts of what you value in life. E.g. when you want children but your partner doesn’t or when you value loyalty but he/she cheats.

– When you have to lie, make excuses or justify things about your partner in front of your friends, family or colleagues.

– When you know you lie or justify to yourself about the reality of the relationship.

– When you experience any signs of verbal, physical, sexual or emotional abuse in the relationship.

– When you stop having affection and intimacy or sleep in separate bedrooms.

– Your partner goes out but doesn’t tell you where, or fails to arrive home when expected and has no explanation.

– You live in constant guilt, shame, worry, anxiety, stress, frustration and anger in the relationship.

– When you argue, one or both of you always just gets defensive. You can never acknowledge that the other person has some valid points.

– When you argue, you just blame each other rather than each accepting some blame.

– Your partner complains about you to their friends or family.

– You feel lonely when you’re together.

– You feel like you need to compromise your values or what you want just to be with him/her.

– When either of you constantly brings up past problems or emotions into the relationship.

– Your partner is coercive when it comes to sex.

– When one partner is manipulating the other or the children to get what they want in the relationship.