Everyone would like to be in a healthy relationship, but many people have trouble defining what a healthy relationship is. Fortunately, there are signs you can look for that will help you determine if the relationship you are in is healthy.
Eight Signs of a Healthy Relationship
Healthy relationships have a common thread. Basically, partners support each other, have healthy boundaries, and allow an environment where each individual can prosper.
1. Mutual Respect
Mutual respect helps build equity in a relationship. It's the right attitude in which to begin and maintain a relationship.
Respect affects many aspects of a relationship, such as the way partners communicate with each other and the way they behave towards one another. You feel your mate is an equal and contributing partner in your relationship. You appreciate your partner for the attributes he brings to the relationship.
Honesty is absolutely essential to all relationships. In an honest relationship, each person is unafraid to share the truth, and communicate in a loving and respectful way.
For example, a statement such as "I honestly feel your statement was stupid" lacks the foundations of mutual respect, acceptance, healthy disagreements. However, a statement like, "I feel sad when we misunderstand each other," can serve the purpose of strengthening the relationship. Honesty has to do with "I" statements, but these statements should be about communicating the way you feel rather than belittling your partner.
Trust is an important part of a healthy relationship and it is developed between two people over time. It's the knowledge that you are safe to communicate and be yourself in your relationship.
Being honest, communicating constructively, and having mutual respect for one another are useful ways to build trust in a relationship.
Having trust in your partner means that you feel you can depend on your partner. If you cannot trust your partner with any aspect of your relationship, such as financial management, communication or even your physical safety, it points to bigger issues individually and in the relationship.
Great communication in a relationship occurs when couples listen to each other. Each person knows how to listen well and make constructive statements. When there is a problem, each partner can express herself in a way that is direct but does not put down or blame the other person.
Healthy communication with your partner should feel good most of the time. While miscommunication is common for couples, if you communicate well, you are able to work these problems out.
Being accepting of one another means that you are happy with the person you are with, flaws and all, and you don't wish or try to change each other. This also means that you do not belittle each other's backgrounds, but instead, respect each other's identity and culture.
In healthy relationships, you should feel like your partner enjoys every part of you, even the annoying little idiosyncrasies. Likewise, you should feel the same about your partner.
What if you don't like an aspect about your partner's behavior or personality? Your dislike for that one aspect should not overwhelm the feeling of love and acceptance for your partner.
In an interdependent relationship, partners are responsible for their words, feelings, and behaviors, and do not look to each other to define who they are.
People in healthy relationships are there for each other and support each other. However, they are able to stand independently and don't rely on the partner to do everything for them. This is different than independence, where it is expected you do everything by yourself with no support.
7. Healthy Disagreements
Disagreements happen in most relationships and being able to navigate those disagreements in a productive way is essential to healthy relationships. For example, when you and your partner disagree, having a plan to follow is very beneficial to ensure healthy disagreements.
- Set a time to speak about the disagreement, ideally when you are both well-rested and have had time to reflect upon your feelings.
- Agree not to attack each other or each other's ideas.
- Strive towards a mutual agreement.
These are great ways to ensure that when disagreements do arise, that you do not lash out in anger. The goal is not to avoid all disagreements, but instead to resolve your differences in the most productive way possible.
"Emotional supportiveness" is a factor that, according to research, is instrumental in a healthy relationship and contributes to longer, healthier relationships.
When a couple has "supportiveness" in a healthy relationship, the partners habitually act in a manner that is loving and caring towards their mate. In addition, they routinely demonstrate their level of devotion to the relationship.
These signs indicate that you are on your way to building a relationship where you can flourish as individuals and as a couple. Mostly, you know you are on the right track when you both feel good about each other and where you are going in your relationship.
If you feel that you need help to establish the foundations of a healthy relationship, counseling is very helpful to build new relationship patterns and resolve old patterns of abusive tendencies.