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  • So when you think about a child, a close friend, or a romantic partner,

  • the word "love" probably comes to mind,

  • and instantly other emotions rush in:

  • joy and hope,

  • excitement, trust and security,

  • and yes, sometimes sadness and disappointment.

  • There might not be a word in the dictionary

  • that more of us are connected to than love.

  • Yet, given its central importance in our lives,

  • isn't it interesting that we're never explicitly taught how to love?

  • We build friendships,

  • navigate early romantic relationships,

  • get married and bring babies home from the hospital

  • with the expectation that we'll figure it out.

  • But the truth is, we often harm and disrespect the ones we love.

  • It can be subtle things

  • like guilting a friend into spending time with you

  • or sneaking a peak at your partner's texts

  • or shaming a child for their lack of effort at school.

  • 100 percent of us will be on the receiving end

  • of unhealthy relationship behaviors

  • and 100 percent of us will do unhealthy things.

  • It's part of being human.

  • In its worst form, the harm we inflict on loved ones

  • shows up as abuse and violence,

  • and relationship abuse

  • is something that one in three women and one in four men

  • will experience in their lifetime.

  • Now, if you're like most people, when you hear those stats,

  • you'll go, "Oh, no, no, no, that would never happen to me."

  • It's instinctual to move away from the words "abuse" and "violence,"

  • to think that they happen to someone else somewhere else.

  • But the truth is, unhealthy relationships and abuse are all around us.

  • We just call them different things and ignore the connection.

  • Abuse sneaks up on us disguised in unhealthy love.

  • I work for an organization called One Love

  • started by a family whose daughter Yeardley was killed by her ex-boyfriend.

  • This was a tragedy no one saw coming,

  • but when they looked back, they realized the warning signs were there

  • just no one understood what they were seeing.

  • Called crazy or drama or too much drinking,

  • his actions weren't understood to be what they really were,

  • which was clear signs of danger.

  • Her family realized that if anyone had been educated about these signs,

  • her death could have been prevented.

  • So today we're on a mission to make sure

  • that others have the information that Yeardley and her friends didn't.

  • We have three main goals:

  • give all of us a language for talking about a subject

  • that's quite awkward and uncomfortable to discuss;

  • empower a whole front line, namely friends, to help;

  • and, in the process, improve all of our ability to love better.

  • To do this, it's always important to start by illuminating

  • the unhealthy signs that we frequently miss,

  • and our work really focuses on creating content

  • to start conversations with young people.

  • As you'd expect, most of our content is pretty serious,

  • given the subject at hand,

  • but today I'm going to use one of our more light-hearted

  • yet still thought-provoking pieces,

  • "The Couplets,"

  • to illuminate five markers of unhealthy love.

  • The first is intensity.

  • (Video) Blue: I haven't seen you in a couple days. I've missed you.

  • Orange: I've missed you too. (#thatslove)

  • Blue: I haven't seen you in five minutes. It feels like a lifetime.

  • What have you been doing without me for five whole minutes?

  • Orange: It's been three minutes. (#thatsnotlove)

  • Katie Hood: Anybody recognize that? I don't know. I do.

  • Abusive relationships don't start out abusive.

  • They start out exciting and exhilarating.

  • There's an intensity of affection and emotion, a rush.

  • It feels really good.

  • You feel so lucky, like you've hit the jackpot.

  • But in unhealthy love, these feelings shift over time

  • from exciting to overwhelming and maybe a little bit suffocating.

  • You feel it in your gut.

  • Maybe it's when your new boyfriend or girlfriend

  • says "I love you" faster than you were ready for

  • or starts showing up everywhere, texting and calling a lot.

  • Maybe they're impatient when you're slow to respond,

  • even though they know you had other things going on that day.

  • It's important to remember that it's not how a relationship starts that matters,

  • it's how it evolves.

  • It's important in the early days of a new relationship

  • to pay attention to how you're feeling.

  • Are you comfortable with the pace of intimacy?

  • Do you feel like you have space and room to breathe?

  • It's also really important to start practicing using your voice

  • to talk about your own needs.

  • Are your requests respected?

  • A second marker is isolation.

  • (Video) Orange 2: Want to hang out?

  • Orange 1: Me and my boyfriend always have Monday Funday.

  • Orange 2: Want to hang out?

  • Orange 1: Me and my boyfriend always have Monday Funday.

  • Orange 2: Tomorrow? Orange 1: It's our Tuesday Snooze Day.

  • Orange 2: Wednesday? Orange 1: No Friends Day.

  • KH: If you ask me, isolation is one of the most frequently missed

  • and misunderstood signs of unhealthy love.

  • Why?

  • Because every new relationship starts out with this intense desire

  • to spend time together,

  • it's easy to miss when something shifts.

  • Isolation creeps in when your new boyfriend or girlfriend

  • starts pulling you away from your friends and family,

  • your support system,

  • and tethering you more tightly to them.

  • They might say things like,

  • "Why do you hang out with them? They're such losers"

  • about your best friends,

  • or, "They want us to break up. They're totally against us"

  • about your family.

  • Isolation is about sowing seeds of doubt

  • about everyone from your prerelationship life.

  • Healthy love includes independence,

  • two people who love spending time together

  • but who stay connected to the people and activities they cared about before.

  • While at first you might spend every waking minute together,

  • over time maintaining independence is key.

  • You do this by making plans with friends and sticking to them

  • and encouraging your partner to do the same.

  • A third marker of unhealthy love is extreme jealousy.

  • (Video) Blue 2: What are you so happy about?

  • Blue 1: She just started following me on Instagram!

  • Blue 2: What are you so nervous about?

  • Blue 1: She, she just started following me, like, everywhere.

  • (#thatsnotlove)

  • KH: As the honeymoon period begins to fade,

  • extreme jealousy can creep in.

  • Your partner might become more demanding,

  • needing to know where you are and who you're with all the time,

  • or they might start following you everywhere, online and off.

  • Extreme jealousy also brings with it possessiveness and mistrust,

  • frequent accusations of flirting with other people or cheating,

  • and refusal to listen to you when you tell them

  • they have nothing to worry about and that you only love them.

  • Jealousy is a part of any human relationship,

  • but extreme jealousy is different.

  • There's a threatening, desperate and angry edge to it.

  • Love shouldn't feel like this.

  • A fourth marker is belittling.

  • (Video) Blue: Wanna hang out? Orange: I gotta study.

  • Blue: You'll get an A anyway, A for amazing. (#thatslove)

  • Blue: Wanna hang out? Orange: I gotta study.

  • Blue: You'll get an F anyway,

  • F for, F for... stupid. (#thatsnotlove)

  • KH: Yeah, hmm.

  • In unhealthy love, words are used as weapons.

  • Conversations that used to be fun and lighthearted

  • turn mean and embarrassing.

  • Maybe your partner makes fun of you in a way that hurts,

  • or maybe they tell stories and jokes for laughs at your expense.

  • When you try to explain that your feelings have been hurt,

  • they shut you down and accuse you of overreacting.

  • "Why are you so sensitive? What's your problem. Give me a break."

  • You are silenced by these words.

  • It seems pretty obvious, but your partner should have your back.

  • Their words should build you up, not break you down.

  • They should keep your secrets and be loyal.

  • They should make you feel more confident,

  • not less.

  • Finally, a fifth marker: volatility.

  • (Video) Orange 1: I'd be sad if we broke up.

  • Orange 2: I'd be sad too. (#thatslove)

  • Orange 1: I'd so depressed if we ever broke up.

  • I'd throw myself off this step.

  • I would! Don't try to stop me!

  • (#thatsnotlove)

  • KH: Frequent breakups and makeups, high highs and low lows:

  • as tension rises, so does volatility.

  • Tearful, frustrated fights followed by emotional makeups,

  • hateful and hurtful comments like,

  • "You're worthless, I'm not even sure why I'm with you!"

  • followed quickly by apologies and promises it will never happen again.

  • By this point, you've been so conditioned to this relationship roller coaster

  • that you may not realize how unhealthy and maybe even dangerous

  • your relationship has become.

  • It can be really hard to see

  • when unhealthy love turns towards abuse,

  • but it's fair to say that the more of these markers

  • your relationship might have,

  • the more unhealthy and maybe dangerous your relationship could be.

  • And if your instinct is to break up and leave,

  • which is advice so many of us give our friends

  • when they're in unhealthy relationships,

  • that's not always the best advice.

  • Time of breakup can be a real trigger for violence.

  • If you fear you might be headed towards abuse or in abuse,

  • you need to consult with experts to get the advice on how to leave safely.

  • But it's not just about romantic relationships

  • and it's not just about violence.

  • Understanding the signs of unhealthy love

  • can help you audit and understand nearly every relationship in your life.

  • For the first time, you might understand why you're disappointed in a friendship

  • or why every interaction with a certain family member

  • leaves you discouraged and anxious.

  • You might even begin to see how your own intensity and jealousy

  • is causing problems with colleagues at work.

  • Understanding is the first step to improving,

  • and while you can't make every unhealthy relationship healthy --

  • some you're going to have to leave behind --

  • you can do your part every day to do relationships better.

  • And here's the exciting news:

  • it's actually not rocket science.

  • Open communication, mutual respect,

  • kindness, patience --

  • we can practice these things every day.

  • And while practice will definitely make you better,

  • I have to promise you it's also not going to make you perfect.

  • I do this for a living

  • and every day I think and talk about healthy relationships,

  • and still I do unhealthy things.

  • Just the other day as I was trying to shuttle my four kids out the door

  • amidst quarreling, squabbling and complaints about breakfast,

  • I completely lost it.

  • With an intentionally angry edge,

  • I screamed,

  • "Everybody just shut up and do what I say!

  • You are the worst!

  • I am going to take away screen time and dessert

  • and anything else you could possibly ever enjoy in life!"

  • (Laughter)

  • Anybody been there?

  • (Applause)

  • Volatility, belittling.

  • My oldest son turned around and looked at me, and said,

  • "Mom, that's not love."

  • (Laughter)

  • For a minute, I really wanted to kill him for calling me out.

  • Trust me.

  • But then I gathered myself

  • and I thought, you know what, I'm actually proud.

  • I'm proud that he has a language to make me pause.

  • I want all of my kids to understand what the bar should be

  • for how they're treated

  • and to have a language and a voice to use when that bar is not met

  • versus just accepting it.

  • For too long, we've treated relationships as a soft topic,

  • when relationship skills are one of the most important

  • and hard to build things in life.

  • Not only can understanding unhealthy signs

  • help you avoid the rabbit hole that leads to unhealthy love,

  • but understanding and practicing the art of being healthy

  • can improve nearly every aspect of your life.