In my latest post, we’re talking about what I consider to be 8 common signs of a healthy relationship. So grab a cuppa, pull up a chair and let’s get into it.
Let me be very clear from the start, relationships are sometimes challenging. Anyone who tells you otherwise is full of crap.
Part of the reason for that is because people and relationships evolve over time. We don’t stay the same. We keep changing. And it makes things tricky at times.
Sometimes, it can be a bit like trying to hit a moving target or trying to understand something that’s constantly in flux.
But, and this is a big BUT, that doesn’t mean that working hard to create a healthy relationship isn’t worth it. It is definitely worth it.
Yes, sometimes relationships can be hard to manage but being in a healthy relationship is always worth the effort, energy, and time.
That being said, however, as good as a healthy relationship can be, being in an unhealthy relationship can actually be worse than being alone.
If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, you basically have one of 2 choices:
One, you do something about it, OR, two, you get out.
There is no third option in my opinion.
Life is simply too short to hang around in an unhealthy relationship that’s going nowhere.
In fact, if you’re at a point of feeling hopeless that things would change or improve, it’s probably a good idea to end it now as it will do so on its own in due course.
Research shows us that whenever a couple feels a sense of hopelessness, divorce or a breakup are usually not too far behind.
But, the focus of this article is:
What are 8 common signs of a healthy relationship?
Now, let me just say that there isn’t a foolproof method for scoring a relationship, but healthy relationships typically have several common features, which is what the following ones are.
Also, this list is by no means limited or exhausted, and I could have added many other common signs of healthy relationships, but these are a good start.
So let’s get into it …
8 Common Signs of a Healthy Relationship:
Balance will mean different things to different relationships or people.
For example, there might be a great imbalance in the financial responsibility within a relationship, but some other aspect could serve to compensate for that discrepancy.
In general terms, the main important question here is:
Is the relationship fair?
Is each party committing the same overall effort and resources?
Or is one party consistently getting the better end of the deal?
Whenever a relationship experiences imbalance in an overall sense, the relationship cannot sustain a sense of harmony, equality, and fairness.
Consequently, one or both of the partners will start feeling unhappy, exhausted, and done in by the current relationship structure.
Openness is about both parties feeling free to share their feelings and concerns honestly and openly.
It’s no fun, and even unhealthy, to be in a relationship where you feel you must keep your pain and concerns to yourself.
You are essentially in a relationship but alone. What is the point of that?
An important question to consider here is:
How open can you be with your partner?
Are you comfortable sharing any issue?
And how receptive or open is your partner to you sharing your feelings and thoughts?
Now, it’s important not to confuse a lack of “equal” sharing with a lack of openness.
What do I mean?
It’s important to appreciate that men are wired differently (in the brain) than women when it comes to opening up and sharing feelings.
For most men, this goes against their nature on a biological level and it actually takes quite a significant effort to communicate about feelings in the same way as most women do quite easily.
So, if you have a man (partner) who is listening to you with attention and care, but doesn’t necessarily say as much back, that doesn’t mean he lacks openness. It just means, he’s a bloke.
- A common long-term outlook.
For a relationship to thrive over the long haul, it’s important that there be a common objective(s).
That objective might involve children and a life in the suburbs. Or, it might be retiring at age 40 and travelling the world.
Whatever you want, the main issue here is:
Do you both want the same things 10 years or more from now?
We tend to create what we focus on and think about most of the time, so it only makes sense to make sure you have a common long-term outlook on things are and moving in the same direction.
Keep talking about your goals, dreams, hopes and what you hope to achieve.
And make sure you also have short-term objectives you’re ticking off along the way, as the journey toward our goals is really what it’s about. The destination is a bonus, but it’s the growth along the way that’s the real reward.
There are no two ways about it — good and healthy relationships are fun.
And I don’t mean fun in a silly kind of way (that also), but rather fun in a thoroughly enjoyable and content kind of way. The type where you feel completely at ease and at peace and time simply disappears.
So the main question here is:
Do you regularly have fun with your partner?
Do you like sharing the same space together?
Do you have fun in your relationship on a regular basis, or do you depend on friends or social functions for fun and entertainment?
That last one is an important question to consider.
I’ve met quite a few couples who have experienced increasing levels of disconnection but was oblivious to the fact because they were deceived by the distraction of constantly being surrounded by other people.
One can become so busy in your relationship that all the activity can be confused for growth or progress. Never confuse the two.
As a couple, you can be spending a lot of time together in all sorts of activities, without actually growing closer as a couple.
Also, what interests do you share? How much time do you spend on these together?
And is the time you spend together enjoyable?
Mutual respect is imperative in any healthy relationship because without it, there is a real possibility that one or both partners will be mistreated or minimized in the process.
The real question to ask here is:
Do you respect each other enough that both of you feel valued and important?
You should be able to go to your partner right now and ask them whether they feel valued and important to you, and hopefully, you get the right answer.
If you can’t, your relationship might be in trouble.
Mutual respect, like trust, is part of the foundation of any healthy relationship and nothing can ever replace it.
- Able to settle conflicts without abuse or resentment.
It’s important that you read this heading again.
It doesn’t read “healthy relationships don’t have any conflict” because that isn’t reality.
Conflicts arise in any type of relationship because we are humans and we are different from each other.
Conflict is simply a natural part of relationships between people.
However, healthy relationships do have a common trait of conflicts being settled fairly and respectfully every time.
When it doesn’t happen, there is a breakdown in the relationship. Trust and respect are dented in some way or another.
And because couples in healthy relationships are able to settle conflicts without abuse, they also find it easier to let go of any possible resentment that resulted from the conflict.
They understand that holding on to anger is poison to the future of their relationship. So they simply don’t.
The main issue here that you need to consider for yourself is:
How do you solve issues in your relationship?
And do these types of conversations make your relationship stronger or more fragile?
Also, do you feel anxious about raising issues with your partner?
If you answered “yes” to any of these 2 questions, you might want to consider improving your current conflict resolution strategy.
If you are unable to talk to your partner about difficult issues, you will always hit a ceiling or limit your growth in certain areas of your relationship.
It’s also when we feel unable to talk to our partners about difficult issues or problems, that we end up allowing those negative feelings to fester and come out in some other passive-aggressive way.
For example, we might be overly frustrated and controlling of the children, when our actual issue is with our partner.
Psychology calls this “displacement.” It is essentially a defence mechanism, but toxic to your relationship regardless.
A simple question to answer here is:
Do you accept each other as you are?
Couples in healthy relationships accept each other, warts and all.
However, I’ve met couples who have entered into their relationship with the objective of changing the other person to better suit their own preferences or expectations.
The problem with this approach is that few people will be OK with this as “relationship strategy.”
The fact is that if you can’t accept your partner as they are, you might want to consider finding someone else.
I know this might sound harsh to some people, but trust me when I say that your feelings of disappointment of your partner constantly “letting you down” won’t get better any time soon.
In your mind, nothing they will ever do will be good enough. You might tell me otherwise right now, but I’m happy to talk to you again in a couple of months.
Plus, no person in a relationship wants to feel like they constantly need to prove themselves to their partner. I know I don’t. I don’t know about you.
Now, I can’t tell you what to do, but it might serve you to keep in mind that no one is perfect and be OK with that. Because if you don’t, you might never find the “perfect” partner.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a “perfect” partner for you, but you will miss them too when no one can live up to your expectations and idea of perfection.
People in healthy relationships know this fact and therefore accept each other. That doesn’t mean they don’t challenge each other to grow, but it’s always built on the foundation of complete and utter acceptance.
The last common sign most healthy relationships share, is having a commitment to each other.
There is no denying the fact that relationships require work.
And the truth is that if one or both parties aren’t committed to making things work, the relationship is unlikely to survive.
So the real question to ask yourself here is:
How much of a priority is the relationship to both of you?
Because most relationships can only be successful if the level of commitment with both partners is high enough.
Again, like respect and trust, without commitment, a relationship is very unlikely to survive let alone be healthy and grow.
Take away …
Healthy relationships are an important part of a full and happy life, whereas unhealthy relationships can create real misery and hardship. This is a scientific fact which has been proven by research (see one of the longest studies done by Harvard)
So, ensuring that you understand what makes for healthy relationships and putting the things in place to create your own, is crucial for the overall well-being of your life.
In this article, I gave you 8 common size of healthy relationships — I hope you go through them again, consider the questions, and put the things in place that are lacking right now in your relationship.
For more articles on creating happier, healthier and more intimate relationships, please visit GideonHanekom.com
Live and love fully, my Friend!
A version of this post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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