How to Know If You Are In a Healthy Relationship

 


You and your partner love trying new restaurants together, going on long bike rides, and traveling, but when it comes to being happy and healthy in a relationship, there are other things to consider besides having common interests.

What exactly makes a relationship healthy? “A great relationship is a safe place for both people to love, honor, and respect one another,”

Trust

Trust in your partner is a key component of any healthy relationship. Research suggests that your ability to trust others is influenced by your overall experience in life and it helps shape the expectations that you have for future relationships.

If your past relationships have been secure, stable, and trusting, you are more likely to trust future partners as well. If, however, your past relationships were unstable and undependable, you may have to work through and build up yourself to trust again.

Trust is also established by how partners treat one another. When you see that your partner treats you well, is dependable, and will be there when you need them, you are more likely to develop this trust. 

However building trust requires mutual self-disclosure by sharing things about yourself. As time passes, opportunities to test and evaluate that trust emerge. As trust grows, the relationship becomes a great source of comfort and security. If you feel that you have to hide things from your partner, it may be because you lack this essential trust. 

Openness and Honesty

You should be able to feel that you can be yourself in a healthy relationship. While all couples have varying levels of disclosure, you should never feel like you have to hide aspects of yourself or change who you are. Being open and honest with each other not only helps you feel more connected as a couple, but it also helps foster trust. 

Mutual Respect

In close, healthy relationships, people have a shared respect for one another. They don't demean or belittle one another and offer support and security.

There are a number of different ways that couples can show respect for one another. These include:

  • Listening to one another
  • Not procrastinating when your partner asks you to do something
  • Being understanding and forgiving when one person makes a mistake
  • Building each other up; not tearing each other down
  • Making room in your life for your partner
  • Taking an interest in the things your partner enjoys
  • Allowing your partner to have their own individuality
  • Supporting and encouraging your partner’s pursuits and passions
  • Showing appreciation and gratitude for one another
  • Having compassion for one another.

Affection
Healthy relationships are characterized by fondness and affection. Research has shown that the initial passion that marks the start of a new relationship tends to decline over time, but this does not mean that the need for affection, comfort, and tenderness lessens.

Passionate love usually happens during the beginning of a relationship and is characterized by intense longing, strong emotions, and a need to maintain physical closeness. This passionate love eventually transforms into compassionate love, which is marked by feelings of affection, trust, intimacy, and commitment.

While those intense early feelings eventually return to normal levels, couples in healthy relationships are able to build progressively deeper intimacy as the relationship progresses. 

However, it is important to remember that physical needs are different for each individual. There is no “right” amount of affection or intimacy. The key to a healthy relationship is that both partners are content with the level of affection that they share with their partner. A nurturing partnership is characterized by genuine fondness and affection for one another that is expressed in a variety of ways.




Good Communication

Healthy, long-lasting relationships, whether they are friendships or romantic partnerships, require the ability to communicate well.

One study found that a couple's communication style was more important than stress, commitment, and personality in predicting whether married couples would eventually divorce.

While it might seem like the best relationships are those that don’t involve conflict, knowing how to argue and resolve differences of opinion effectively is more important than simply avoiding arguments in order to keep the peace.

Sometimes conflict can be an opportunity to strengthen a connection with your partner. Research has shown that conflict can be beneficial in intimate relationships when serious problems need to be addressed, allowing partners to make changes that benefit the future of the relationship.

When conflicts do arise, those in healthy relationships are able to avoid personal attacks. Instead, they remain respectful and empathetic of their partner as they discuss their thoughts and feelings and work toward a resolution.

Give-and-Take

Strong relationships are marked by nature. It isn’t about keeping score or feeling that you owe the other person. You do things for one another because you genuinely want to.

This also doesn’t mean that the give-and-take in a relationship is always 100% equal. At times, one partner may need more help and support. In other cases, one partner may simply prefer to take more of a caregiver role. Such imbalances are fine as long as each person is ok with the dynamic and both partners are getting the support that they need.

Signs of Problems in a Relationship

Relationships can change over time and not every relationship is 100% healthy all the time. Times of some issues in particular, can lead to unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms that can create problems. A relationship is unhealthy when the bad outweighs the good or when certain behaviors are harmful to one or both individuals.

  • Attempts to control your behaviors 
  • Avoiding one another
  • Being afraid to share your opinions or thoughts
  • Being pressured to quit the things you enjoy
  • Criticizing what you do, who you spend time with, how you dress, etc.
  • Feeling pressured to change who you are
  • Feeling that spending time together is an obligation
  • Lack of fairness when settling conflicts
  • Lack of privacy or pressure to share every detail of your life with your partner.
  • Neglecting your own needs to put your partner first.
  • Poor communication
  • Unequal control over shared resources including money and transportation
  • Yelling

Some problems may be temporary and something that you can address together, either through self-help methods or by consulting a mental health professional. When it comes to more serious problems, such as abusive behaviors, your primary concern should be on maintaining your safety and security.




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