Healthy relationships can take many forms. What works for one couple may not work for another. But generally, a healthy relationship will prioritize characteristics such as:
- Respect – feeling valued and appreciated by your partner
- Communication – being able to share openly and honestly, without fear or judgment
- Trust – feeling safe and secure with one another
- Compromise – being willing to flex and allow for different perspectives
- Support – being there for each other no matter what
- Love – feeling a deep, abiding connection with one another
- Individuality – feeling like you can still be yourself, even within the context of your relationship
- Anger control – knowing how to handle conflict in a constructive way
- Problem solving – working together to identify and solve problems as a team
- Responsiveness – attending to each other’s needs in a timely and considerate manner
- Conscientiousness – being thoughtful and kind in your words and actions
- Intimacy – being close and connected, both physically and emotionally
Healthy relationships don’t happen by accident. They require time, energy, and effort to maintain. When built on a solid foundation, you will have the resilience you need to weather nearly any storm that comes your way.
Red Flags to Watch Out For
Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy. If you’re in a relationship that is characterized by any of the following warning signs, it’s time to take steps to get help or get out.
- Do I feel safe and secure with my partner?
- Do I feel respected and valued by my partner?
- Do I have the freedom to be myself?
- Do we communicate openly, kindly, and honestly with one another?
- Do we work together to solve problems, or does one person always have their way?
- Is my partner attentive to my needs, or do they always seem too busy for me?
- Is our love for one another balanced, or is one of us always chasing the other’s affection?
Sometimes it’s not always clear how to answer these questions. Maybe you feel like there are times when things are good and times when they’re not. Spending time contemplating these questions on your own, with your partner, or with a trusted friend or therapist can help you to gain clarity on whether or not your relationship is as healthy as it could be.
Other questions to consider are:
- How do we handle conflict?
- What does the other person do when one of us is distressed?
- Are we both satisfied with this relationship?
- How confident does each of us feel about the future of our relationship?
- What emotions do I tend to feel when I’m around my partner?
- Why do I feel this way?
Abusive or Violent Behavior
One of the most clear-cut signs that you are in an unhealthy relationship is if your partner ever exhibits any form of abusive or violent behavior towards you. This can include physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse. This is a major red flag if you are in a relationship where you feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” to avoid triggering your partner’s anger.
If you are ever in immediate danger, call 911. There are also many national and local hotlines you can call for help, whether you need to talk about what’s going on or you need help getting out of a dangerous situation.
Healthy relationships should nourish and promote the health and wellbeing of both partners. If your partner is causing you physical pain or severe mental and emotional distress, safely distance yourself as soon as possible and seek professional help.