How to tell you’ve got a good one.
We spend a lot of time talking about how to recognize a toxic person or a toxic relationship, but I think we also need to acknowledge what the right relationships look like, for more than one reason.
Firstly, I think we have to know what we are looking for so we recognize it when we do have it. And secondly I think we need to have an image in our minds of what a healthy relationship looks like so we know how to work towards it and create it alongside our teammate.
So instead of discussing red flags, what are some green ones?
You respect each other’s differences and use them to your advantage.
Not that I am much for sports analogies, but I think one would be fitting here. When you are on a team, not everyone is good at the same things. Someone pitches, someone hits, someone runs, and they all work together to create a synergy between them while leveraging each others’ skills.
In a healthy relationship, both teammates will understand that the other has skills they do not. In what could be seen as a ‘power couple,’ you operate like a well-oiled machine in both everyday activities and those more rare. Your personalities even each other off mingling at parties, and your different levels of organization and creativity help with keeping things in order. The team wins the game.
No, not often. And no, not harshly. But if you argue it’s a sign that you both have your own opinions and are strong enough to stick to them. This is a good thing. If there are no arguments at all, it could be a sign that somebody is hiding something, hiding their feelings, or just not being honest about what they really think. They may feel like they are keeping the peace, but none of this is a positive in the long run.
You are all in.
There is no such thing as a part-time relationship. You are either in, or you’re out. In the right relationship, both partners will be fully committed to each other and to the relationship as a whole. This means sticking together through life’s challenges and handling them as a team. See point #1.
You stop hiding your flaws.
Nobody is perfect. But if we are always trying to convince someone that we are, we will never be truly comfortable with them and they will never really get to know our true selves. In the right relationship, we are open about these things with each other and the best part is – they will still love and accept you for it.
You communicate about sex.
Communication is key to building a happy, healthy relationship — and that does not just include communication outside of the bedroom. Both partners being open and satisfied in this area is hugely important to overall happiness and it should be something that two mature adults are comfortable talking about with each other.
Sometimes, you don’t communicate at all.
Have you ever had a friend who you were able to sit in a room with and be silent, without it being awkward? Just doing your own thing or enjoying each other’s company? This is also an important part of a relationship — not having to speak all of the time, and sometimes just being together.
You maintain your identities.
Take the sports analogy in the first point. If you constantly tried to pitch just like the pitcher, or catch just like the catcher, you would eventually find yourself forgetting what position you actually play on the team because you’ve been putting so much effort into being like everyone else.
It is important to maintain your identity and not lose yourself when you get into a relationship. If that happens, you may find yourself being too self-sacrificial and essentially a doormat, not really happy in your situation, and unable to communicate it because you don’t even know what you want anymore.
You respect each other’s privacy.
Yes, you are a team and the whole “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours” thing is fine, but you are still two separate individuals who have a right to your privacy being respected. This means no snooping around or looking through their phone. Unless they have given you a damn good reason to be suspicious about something, this is a betrayal of trust that healthy couples do not engage in.
You trust each other.
Trust. Is. Huge. Without trust there cannot be any of the other positive elements that bring a relationship together. If you don’t trust the person you’re with you can’t be comfortable with them going out without you, or spending time with friends, or maybe even at work? You can’t be, and it will eat away at the foundation of your relationship like termites, until it eventually crumbles.
Two people who are secure in their relationship are going to have to, eventually, have difficult conversations about difficult issues. If you avoid the ‘taboo’ subjects for fear of offending each other, it may cause tension and allow important feelings to become repressed. The other half of this, of course, is that the conversation will be had calmly and respectfully with the other person’s feelings and opinions in mind.
You have accepted each other’s pasts.
We all have a past. Often times, our pasts include other significant others. When learning about someone or getting to know them, there will probably be important points in their life that include someone besides yourself. If you demonize their exes or refuse to hear about them, you’re cutting out much of their life. The present is all that matters.
A healthy relationship will be open to all topics of discussion and realize that the past is in the past – now is what matters.
You support each other’s passions and endeavors.
Whether or not you share each others’ passions or life ambitions, when you truly care about someone you want to see them succeed and be happy in whatever they love. This means standing beside them, not in their way, when they dedicate effort towards pursuing a goal.
You both continue putting effort in, long after you’ve already ‘gotten’ each other.
Great relationships are not about give and take, they are about give and give. The effort each teammate puts forth in the relationship should be consistent, as well as equally recognized and appreciated by the other. When one or both partners stop trying, the union is doomed.
You are always open, honest, and direct with each other.
Earlier I mentioned communication in the bedroom – it should go without saying (but often doesn’t) that communication in all areas of life and your relationship is imperative to its success. Open, honest, unfiltered communication with your partner who you both have the comfort of opening up to without being judged for it, and the knowledge that they feel the same way towards you.
You want to be the best version of yourself, without changing who you really are.
This is a clear hallmark of a healthy relationship. Someone should not try to change you in terms of your character and personality — but being inspired by them to improve yourself (both for you, and for them) is a good sign.
As Mark Twain said — Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
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This article originally appeared on James Michael Sama’s blog.
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