If you’re reading this, you are probably questioning if the good, the bad and the ugly of your current relationship. You may be asking yourself, “is my relationship a healthy one that I should stay in or should I run for the hills?”
How can you tell if you’re in a healthy relationship? There are a few characteristics of a healthy relationship that can let you know if you are on the right track to meeting your relationship goals.
This is a common question that I hear over and over from many of my clients. They wonder if the relationship that they are in is a good one for the long haul or of there are signs that will tell them that it isn’t exactly going to work out. Many wonder if they are in or heading into a bad relationship because of some red-flags they notice early on but may try to ignore. Others are looking for reassurance that their perceived health of their relationship is on target and that they are heading in the right direction.
Here are 9 ways to tell if you’re in a healthy relationship!
1. You have respect for each other
R-E-S-P-E-C-T is not only an Aretha Franklin song, but it also the first building block to a successful relationship. Those in a healthy relationship have a mutual respect for each other that is expressed through kindness, compassion, encouragement, and honor. They do not let themselves or others disrespect their intimate partner and show this in the way they speak to and about their partner, how they treat their partner, and how they show their affection toward their partner.
Hold them in the highest level of regard
Consult with them to make joint decisions
Consider their feelings and needs when making decisions
Respect their individual goals, needs and desires
Respect and honor their physical and emotional bodies
It is important to note that when you trust your partner, you feel physically and emotionally safe with that person. You know you are not in harm’s way and that they will not intentionally hurt you.
2. You trust your partner
Trust is another basic building block to a relationship. If trust has been broken, there is always the chance to rebuild and grow as a couple. If trust has never been established or is unable to be re-established, chances are you are in an unhealthy relationship.
In order to develop trust, a few ground rules need to be established.
Firstly, if you are in a monogamous relationship, you should have trust in your partner that he or she will not cheat and is mutually monogamous. I recommend to my clients that they openly discuss their expectations very early in their relationship so that there are no misunderstandings as to mutual monogamy. If there is any question, these issues need to be discussed and ground rules need to be set.
Can you trust that your partner has your back?
Will stand up for and with you when you need them to?
Having faith that you can depend on your partner during any time of need is important. Knowing that he or she will listen before placing blame or passing judgement, show compassion, respect and kindness.
3. You are both supportive and compassionate of each other
Showing your partner support and compassion is a must. Without this, your partner may feel dismissed, unimportant and inferior. Some clients question their partner’s level of support and in turn question their own value in the relationship. This is especially common in situations when one person does not work outside of the home or makes less money. So often our value is calculated by our paycheck instead of what we bring to the relationship that does not have a financial or monetary value.
4. You listen
Have you ever felt like you are talking to a brick wall or that no one understands what you are trying to say?
Well, if you or your partner are not actually listening to each other, valuing each other’s opinions and feelings or hearing what they are trying to say, you can bet that resentment and anger will ensue.
Practice your listening skills with your partner and others so that you are giving them your attention and in turn respect.
5. You have disagreements
A healthy debate here and there is, well… healthy.
You don’t have to be an identical twin brain to connect with your partner or show them that you are “on the same page”. You are allowed to and should have keep your own opinions, values, and thoughts. If you are wildly off the page with your partner and things are getting too heated or you have entirely different moral compasses, you may want to rethink continuing the relationship.
Otherwise, having different opinions doesn’t make your relationship unhealthy, so long as you can both maintain your individual selves and have a mutual respect for each other’s opinion.
6. You are inter-dependent , not co-dependent
In any relationship, each person brings to the table something special to compliment or add to their relationships. For example, in some relationships one person may work outside of the home maintaining the financial stability aspect of the relationship, while the other partner maintains the internal workings of the home and family providing comfort and home stability. These two aspects complement each other, as each person is able to do their job independently yet jointly to bring about one outcome…stability and comfort.
7. You love not lust
There is a major difference between love and lust. Let’s get back to high school dating 101…
When you love someone, you have a mutual respect for each other. You hold each other in the highest regard; you love every aspect of them including the not so wonderful traits they may have. Your love isn’t solely expressed in the physical connection experienced by most couples and is not defined by sex.
Lust on the other hand is quite the opposite. People may confuse the intense physical feelings of lust with love but the two should not be confused. While many people who are intensely in love with each other find it difficult to keep their hands off of each other, their main focus of the relationship is not the physical, as in a lust-filled relationship.
You must establish the difference which is why I ALWAYS recommend that when starting a new relationship, sex be off the table for 3 months. Yes…3 months. This will not cloud your judgement with who they are as a person, who they are trying to be, and if they are willing to wait these 12 weeks.
This will let you truly see their character, not who they may be pretending to be.
8. You have a healthy sex life
Sex is great but it’s not the core of a relationship and a healthy sex life is defined by individual couples.
There are some couples who are unable to express their love for each other in a physical way for one reason or another and their sex life takes on new meaning or as relationships and people age, their sex lives may change for the better or worse.
Finding the right physical connection for you and your partner is what is going to make your relationship work. Being on the same page is vital and having a mutual respect for each other’s bodies is essential.
9. You forgive and don’t hold grudges
Without forgiveness, any relationship you have difficulty sustaining itself. You know the saying “forgive but not forget”… you can forgive a person for a wrongdoing but not forget how they hurt you so that it does not happen again. Holding a grudge isn’t healthy for anyone and bringing up the past as part of your way of getting revenge is even unhealthier for both of you.
Genuine forgiveness takes practice but once it is mastered, while you may never forget, you won’t hold a grudge.
As a relationship expert, I can help you:
Realize any unhealthy patterns in your relationship
Forge a stronger relationship with your partner
Remove the blocks holding you back from moving forward in either your current relationship or moving past a break-up
Help you and your partner move forward separately if the relationship is proven to be unhealthy, in the healthiest way possible
Help you remove the blocks holding you back from forming a healthy relationship