There are a ton of articles out there about the signs of an unhealthy relationship, and it’s without a doubt that this information is essential. Understanding what makes a relationship unhealthy can be validating, informative, and even life-saving. On the other side of the coin, it’s important to know what makes a healthy relationship so that you can ensure that the bonds you have are good for you – and so that you can learn to repair them if they aren’t. Here are five signs of a healthy relationship.
1. Your individuality is embraced.
One of the most vital traits of a healthy relationship is that you feel as though you are able to be your most authentic self. Who you are is embraced and vice versa. While you share a good deal of quality time together, you and your partner are able to have your own individual interests and friendships. You have your own thoughts and opinions, you are supportive of one another, and there’s a sense of interdependence rather than codependency.
2. You have mutual respect for one another.
Respect is the foundation of a relationship, and it is something you’ll generally be able to feel and sense. A lack of respect in a relationship can be damaging not only to the relationship but to a person’s self-esteem and mental health, whereas in a healthy relationship, you should feel uplifted by your partner and will never feel talked down to or as though you are less-than. In a healthy relationship, you will see each other as equals and treat one another with respect. Signs of respect in a relationship include but aren’t limited to actively listening when the other person speaks, feeling validated by each other, being supportive of one another, regarding one another as intelligent and autonomous, and respecting each other’s boundaries, physical or otherwise.
3. You show affection outwardly.
Affection is an essential part of a romantic relationship. There are a number of different ways of showing affection. If you haven’t heard of the five love languages, you might consider reading up on them so that you and your partner can increase the affection you show for one another. The five love languages are quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, and gift-giving. Let your partner know that you appreciate them and verbally tell them what you love about them – even if you think they already know! Especially if you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s important for both of you to know that you aren’t being taken for granted. Continue to go out on dates, give each other compliments, give each other back massages just because, and surprise one another with little things that’ll make their day like a sticky note that says “I love you” or a small gift every now and again. It really does matter!
4. Your partner is willing to work things out.
Should you have an argument or disagreement, you and your partner are able to talk about it. No relationship is perfect, and at some point, you will have to have a tough conversation of some kind. Whether it’s about parenting, a misunderstanding, something that hurt your feelings, or anything else, you should be able to talk about it. It’s crucial that you have an open line of communication. In a healthy relationship, you won’t feel like you need to walk on eggshells, and while a partner may ask for space before talking about something heavy, they won’t refuse it. A healthy relationship doesn’t mean that things are perfect all of the time. Instead, it means that when the going gets tough, you’re there to talk it out and hold space for each other as whole and autonomous people. This is one of the reasons that a refusal to go to counseling can be a red flag.
5. You can be vulnerable.
Honesty, trust, and tenderness are all necessary in a relationship. Why? Because these things allow for both vulnerability and security. Your relationship should not be filled with criticism or secrecy, but with gentleness and emotional intimacy. When you go through the ups and downs of life, you should be met with empathy and a listening ear. Your partner should not be your only support, but they should be one of them. Imagine that you are going through a difficult time; if the way that your partner would respond is something you’d see as tender or warm, you’re on the right track. If you feel the need to hide your feelings from your partner, ask yourself why that is. If you’re struggling right now or don’t have the level of intimacy you’d like to, it doesn’t mean things need to stay that way forever. Every couple is unique, but striking up a conversation with your partner or deciding to see a counselor together is often the first step.
Cultivating Healthy Relationships
If you notice an area where your relationship is lacking, whether that’s in affection, vulnerability, communication, physical, sexual, and emotional intimacy, or something else, it is possible to work through it. One of the best ways to do this is to see a counselor or therapist who can help. Again, no relationship is perfect. Even those in a healthy partnership may benefit from professional support every now and again. People go to therapy for a number of reasons, and no concern is too big or too small. Whether you’re considering couples counseling, individual therapy, or any other form of mental health care, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You deserve to have relationships that flourish, and your mental health matters.