In Part 1 of this series, we noted that our culture doesn’t spend much time talking about healthy relationships. This can lead to confusion about what a positive relationship really looks like. Every relationship, from friendship to marriage, will have stress at times, but a healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life.
The first step in having a healthy relationship is learning to recognize healthy behavior.
Below, we outline some of the characteristics that may be present in healthy relationships. Some of these attributes may seem obvious and some may make you realize things about your own relationship that you weren’t seeing clearly—both good and bad.
10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship
Healthy relationships bring out the best in you. No relationship is perfect, but a healthy relationship makes you feel good most of the time. A healthy relationship will make you feel more confident and supported.
#1: COMFORTABLE PACE: Allowing things to advance at a pace that feels comfortable for both of you is vital to a healthy relationship. Often times when you begin dating someone, you may feel that you’re spending all of your time with them because you want to, and that is great! Just be sure not to rush the relationship or continue to be unbalanced. In a healthy relationship, nobody should ever pressure the other person to have sex, make the relationship exclusive, meet their family and friends, get married, or have a baby. If you do choose to take these steps, both people should feel happy and excited—no mixed feelings.
#2: TRUST: You should trust that your partner won’t do anything to hurt you or ruin the relationship. Trust means you have assurance that your partner is comfortable when you do things without them, that he won’t cheat on you, that he respects your privacy online, that he doesn’t share personal information about you with others, and that he doesn’t make you go out of your way to “earn” his trust.
#3: HONESTY: It’s important to be able to talk honestly with each other about what you both want and how you’re feeling. In a healthy relationship, there’s no fear about how your partner will respond or if you’ll be judged. He may not like what you have to say, but a healthy partner will respond in a considerate way. You should never feel like you have to hide who you are from your partner.
#4: INDEPENDENCE: It’s great to be with each other, but it’s necessary to have space and freedom in your relationship, too. Your partner should support you having friends and a life outside of your relationship and not need to be attached at the hip or know every little detail about your life.
#5: RESPECT: Respect is present in your relationship if your partner values your beliefs, opinions, and who you are as a person. Respect also looks like complimenting you, supporting your hard work and dreams, not trying to push or overstep your boundaries, and sticking up for you.
#6: EQUALITY: You and your partner should put equal effort into the relationship. It shouldn’t be one person doing all the work or having all the say. Do you feel heard in your relationship and are you comfortable speaking up and making decisions together? Equally compromising on decisions makes the other person feel important or respected.
#7: COMPASSION: Feeling a sense of care and concern from your partner and knowing that they will be there to support you, too. If you’re in a healthy relationship, your partner will be kind to you, they will understand and be supportive of you when you’re going through tough times, and they will lend a helping hand in times of need. An important caveat is that it has to be two-sided and displayed equally.
#8: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: In a healthy relationship, you and your partner are both responsible for your own actions and words. You avoid casting blame on each other and own up to your mistakes when you do something wrong. This includes genuinely apologizing and not taking things out on the other person when you’re upset. Both people focus on positive changes that better the relationship.
#9: LOYALTY: When your partner is loyal, you’ll feel like they have your back, is respectful and faithful to you, sticks up for you, doesn’t take sides against you but helps you see the middle ground, and keeps your secrets safe. In a healthy relationship, you don’t have to test the other person’s loyalty, because you just know it’s there.
#10: COMMUNICATION: Good communication is based on honesty and trust, which we mentioned earlier. If you can talk to your partner about anything—the good and the bad—this is a sign of a healthy relationship. You should never feel like you can’t be yourself or say what is on your mind.
What If You’re In An Unhealthy Relationship?
If your partner ever tries to harm you physically or force you to do something sexually, those are clear signs for you that it is an unhealthy relationship. Consider getting help and ending the relationship. Even if you believe the person loves you, it does not make up for the harm they are doing to you.
When you are unhappy in a relationship and decide to leave, but you find yourself still in the relationship you may need help to get out. Also, some women stay in an unhealthy relationship for the wrong reasons, such as fear of being alone or guilt. If you have a history of staying in unhealthy relationships or find yourself in that situation now, you should definitely seek outside counsel.
If you are near one of our clinics, please call us and we can provide you a list of resources available to help you.
Spread the Word
Now that you’re equipped and empowered with this knowledge, spread the word! We can all work to build healthier relationships, and it starts with education and conversations.
love is respect.org: https://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationships/
If you’re in danger, please contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/help/ , call 911, or contact your local police.