There is a simple way to identify unhealthy relationships, whether they are friendships, colleagues, family members, or partners. You simply reflect on when and how you hear from them. It is that simple.
Do they reach out to see how you are doing, and actually make space for an answer? Do they ask about your family, your work, your plans? Essentially, do they stay in touch because they truly care, or do they only seem to check in when they need something? If you communicate primarily through messaging services, the pattern will be easy to spot. This one-sidedness can be an underdeveloped communication pattern on their part, and that is their work to do, but this information can help you to see where your energy might be “bleeding out” and landing in a place with no reciprocity. In nature, we see symbiosis, which is a mutually beneficial energy exchange and it is just as important in human interaction. There are nuances and spectrums to this, and sometimes we may lean more than we support which is expected, but when there is a distinct lack of compassionate space on their part, it can be important to be aware of. It can also remind us to look at where we are taking more than giving.
This is not to throw shadows over anyone, but it is an important practice in order to see where our boundaries might need strengthening. Often, resentment will already be building in those relationships, so this process can repair connections to those we are interested in staying in contact with. It can also remind us to look at where we are taking more than giving.
This looks a bit different if it is a partnership you are in, especially if you are cohabitating. Because you are in a shared space, it can be more challenging to recognize, but it will often show up the same way. Does your partner ever stop what they are doing, connect with you (hug, eye contact) and ask how you are doing? Do they stay engaged when you answer? Do they follow up about it another time?
This can lead us into a practice of gentle inquiry around where we are not honouring ourselves and The Empress can be a beautiful card to work with for this. Where are we being an advocate for ourselves and how can we strengthen this capacity for self-sovereignty? We deserve people in our lives who value our time and are invested in our well-being as well as their own.