by Rebecca Hieronymi
I feel confident in saying what many of us want is to be in a happy, meaningful relationship. It takes a lot more than attraction to ensure longevity. Here are 12 signs of a healthy relationship:
1. Open communication: Every great relationship starts with transparency. Are you able to communicate openly with your partner? Good communication means both listen and empathize with each other, have welcoming body language and use respectful language.
2. Disagreements: Sometimes arguing is healthy in a relationship. This should not be confused with destructive fighting in which couples use aggressive behavior and language to hurt each other. Both parties should feel safe and comfortable with stating their opinions while trying to understand the other point of view. If you cannot openly communicate, you’re probably bottling up feelings and letting them turn into resentment. Know when to take responsibility when you are wrong and apologize.
3. Privacy: It’s normal to seek relationship advice from close friends and family when in conflict with your partner; however, when you make your problems public on social media you can damage the trust you’ve built with your partner. We need privacy in order to feel secure in a relationship.
4. You Don’t Hold Grudges: It is normal to get agitated with your partner from time to time, and you both may find things that get on your nerves as you get to know each other. We may say or do things that upset our partner that we don’t mean. Whether it was you or your partner that caused the hurt, if a sincere apology has been given then holding a grudge can hurt your relationship in the long run. When you’re upset, talk things out and let go.
5. Expectations: The “perfect” partner does not exist, and it takes a lot of work to keep a relationship going. Be realistic with your expectations. The key to long-lasting relationships is commitment, open communication and compromise. You should have expectations for how you want your partner to treat you and be willing to leave a relationship if your needs are not being met or you are being abused.
6. Time and Space: Being in a healthy relationship means you have separate lives, interests and friends. It is essential to have a life outside of the relationship and take time for yourself. You should be able to maintain your own sense of individuality without fearing your partner will be jealous or resentful.
7. Trust: Trust means respecting your partner’s decisions and feeling secure. Asking someone for updates on their whereabouts, who they’re with or stalking on social media is a sign of trust issues or co-dependency. Healthy couples spend time away from each other without worrying about what the other is doing.
8. Spending Time Together: A healthy relationship involves taking time to connect with your partner. You should enjoy spending time together no matter what activity you choose to do. It shouldn’t feel like an obligation, but a joy.
9. Friendship: It is important to feel comfortable. Healthy couples confide in each other and talk about anything without fear of judgement.
10. You Make Decisions Together: A relationship shouldn’t be a power struggle. Healthy relationships are a partnership that allows both people to have equal say.
11. Intimacy: Intimacy is a form of bonding that is important. Spending quality time together, giving gifts, using words of affirmation or other forms of love maintain a healthy relationship.
12. You Make Each Other Better People: Supporting your partner is not the same as fixing them. In a healthy relationship you support each other’s dreams and goals and help each other grow as individuals, but you cannot “fix” them.
Are there items on this list you and your partner practice regularly? If you see red flags or signs you may not be in a healthy relationship, reach out to a friend, family member or a domestic violence victim advocate. Our advocates provide a safe, non-judgmental space where you talk about your concerns and learn about unhealthy behaviors that can turn into domestic violence. If you or someone you know has experienced intimate partner violence, Crisis Services of North Alabama can help.
Please contact us locally at 256.574.5826, on our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000, or at our website www.csna.org. Advocates provide free, confidential support to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.