By David Joel Miller
How can you tell if you are in a good relationship?
There are lots of things written about bad relationships, how to spot them, how to end them. But sometimes it pays to take another look at your relationship. How would you know if this was a good one?
Every relationship has its ups and downs. At the down times, any relationship can look like a mistake. Over time though, good relationships have more of certain characteristics.
Your relationship is less than you want? Work on having more of these good characteristics and your relationship quality may well improve.
1. You feel good about yourself when you are with them.
A good relationship should make you feel good about yourself. That also means you should work on making your partner feel good about themselves. If you need to put your partner down and belittle them, this says a lot about you. If your partner does not build you up most of the time there is some reason they do not appreciate you and this relationship is headed for trouble.
The sooner in the relationship, you spot this behavior of cutting each other down instead of building each other up the better your chances of changing the behavior or avoiding a long-term destructive relationship.
2. You can tell your partner how you feel.
If you need to censor your feelings this is a bad sign. In a healthy relationship, you can tell your partner how you feel without them needing you to change or telling you that you have no right feel the way you do.
3. You do not need to keep secrets from them.
Sure some things need to be kept a secret. Like their birthday present. But if you find that you do not feel safe in telling your partner things this is a bad sign. Healthy relationships do not require people to keep secrets to be acceptable.
There may be times you censor what you say. You do not have an obligation to tell everyone you know about every flaw in their character you see. Tack is not the same thing as needing to keep things a secret.
4. You have fun together.
Being together should be fun. If every time you spend time together you are holding on for this time to end this is a really bad sign.
In the early stages of a relationship, it is all about us and more us. Eventually, you both need to develop who you are separate from each other. But there ought to still be times you want to spend time together and that time should be something you look forward to.
5. You would pick them first.
When thinking about who you want to see, who to spend time with, who to spend your life with you should have your partner at the top of your list. If you would never pick your partner first then why did you pick them at all?
Think back to when you two first started together why did you pick them? What are the good things about them?
6. You can talk with them.
Humans communicate verbally and nonverbally. If you are there for the touch but not the conversation, this sounds like half a relationship to me. There should be times when you like to have a conversation together, not because there is a problem to solve but just because it is fun to talk with each other.
7. Problems get solved.
Do you two solve problems together? Especially can you solve relationship problems? If you find that your relationship is stuck in problems that never get solved, then you need to do some work on this relationship fast. A relationship that is always and only a problem is one you run from not run towards.
8. You do not have to change for them to like you.
A partner should like you for who you are and the ways you are. This does not mean they do not see your flaws. They see those defects of character and like you anyway.
If you find that every interaction with a partner is a request for you to change, this tells you that they wish you were someone other than the person you are.
Do you like your partner for who they are or are you settling for someone you dislike to avoid being alone?
9. You bring out the best in each other.
Do you make each other better, bring out the best in each other? That sounds like a good relationship. If you bring out the worst in each other, do things when around that partner you would be ashamed to do around others, this is likely to end badly.
10. You are headed in the same direction.
If you have the same or similar beliefs, you share goals, hopes, and dreams, then you are headed in the same direction and can enjoy the life journey together. If you do not want the same things from life or have very different goals this makes for an unpleasant journey. Most of us remember a lot of things from the past, those past memories are likely to be biased in the direction of painful experiences, memories of mistakes you made.
Different values and goals, you are in for a difficult journey.
Two people who have differences can work together and have a good life but they need to respect and support each other in the life journey and they need to be agreeable to where each plans to end up.
There are my 10 characteristics of a good relationship. How many of these does your relationship have? Are you willing to work to improve your relationship score?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.