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By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.
What should you look for in a healthy relationship?
It’s easy to spot an unhealthy relationship. The couple never gets along. They fight about everything, and there’s a lot of collateral damage when they fight. When there is an unhappy relationship, family, friends, and even the children wish this couple would call it quits. But just because there are no outside signs of conflict doesn’t mean that this is a healthy relationship.
The notion that in healthy relationships, there are never any conflicts is a myth. The idea that people in a good relationship are soulmates who need to be together continually isn’t accurate either. To have a healthy relationship, there needs to be a balance of togetherness and individuality. People in a healthy relationship do have disagreements and conflicts, but they can solve them without harming each other or the relationship. Here are some of the signs of a healthy relationship.
There are no topics you can’t talk about.
Are you able to talk about what’s on your mind? In a good relationship, there are no topics that are taboo. You shouldn’t have to censor what you say to your partner. That doesn’t mean that rude or hurtful comments are okay. In healthy relationships, you can talk to your partner about anything, you don’t have to feel like you’re walking on eggshells, but you need to say things respectfully.
You can still be you while being a part of an “us.”
Being in a couple-relationship involves a balancing of the individual and the couple. In the early stages of getting together, couples typically go through a period during which they can’t get enough of each other. In the early stages, they want to spend every minute together. But for the relationship to develop, the two people need to reach a point where each of them can be a separate “me” while still being a part of “us.”
Not being able to transition from creating an “us” to balancing your individual needs and interests with the things you do together as a couple can result in an unhealthy relationship. If your partner is pathologically jealous and doesn’t want you to do anything or go anywhere without them, that’s not love. Not allowing your partner to have separate feelings and interests creates severe problems in a relationship.
You can disagree without hurting each other.
In a healthy relationship, you can disagree. You don’t feel the need to force your partner to change their thinking. If disagreement threatens you or your partner, it’s a good indication that this is an unhealthy relationship.
You look for solutions, not who’s right.
“Right fighting” continuing arguments to prove that you’re right and your partner is wrong, is both a sign of and a cause of unhealthy relationships. In healthy relationships, you can look for “win-win” solutions. If you feel the need to fight to the bitter end and approach every conflict thinking that one of you must be right and the other is wrong, you’re not in a healthy relationship.
You don’t have to change each other.
Getting into a relationship, expecting your partner to change leads to incredible conflict. If either one of you feels that your partner needs to change for this to be a good relationship, you’re headed in a terrible direction. Certainly, people do change both when they get into relationships and when they lead them. There’s plenty of room for both personal growth and growth as a couple. But if you’ve convinced yourself that your partner needs to change for you to be happy, you need to take another look at yourself.
You don’t need something to happen to be happy.
The belief that something must happen and then the two of you can be happy together is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. If you’re not satisfied and not getting along, thinking that having a child, moving to a different city, or getting a new job will fix this are likely signs that this is not a healthy relationship. If you don’t enjoy the process of where you are going, you’re very likely to be disappointed when you get to your destination.
You make decisions together.
Every couple evolves how they handled decision-making. If your relationship is characterized by one person having all the power and control, and they make all the decisions regardless of what you think, this is an unhealthy relationship.
Your relationship creates more joy than pain.
Every relationship has some problematic patches. But if the bulk of your time with your partner is painful and you struggle to hold on to small patches of joy, you’re in an unhealthy relationship. The joyous times should far outweigh the pain.
You’re able to divide up the duties fairly.
There are myriad ways in which couples divide up duties. I read somewhere that 50-50 marriages do not work. Generally, each person in a relationship feels they are doing more than half the work. But when you step back and look at it, both of you need to agree that there’s a fair distribution of the duties.
You appreciate your partner and feel appreciated.
If you don’t appreciate your partner and they never show you appreciation, this is not a healthy relationship. Knowing that each of you cares about the other helps the health of the relationship. Couples who expressed their appreciation for each other build their relationship. Taking each other for granted is a sign your relationship suffers from ill-health.
In a healthy relationship, you trust each other.
In healthy relationships, people trust each other. If you don’t trust your partner, it can feel like you’re living with the enemy. Sometimes something has happened in the relationship to make one partner distrusts the other. If that’s happened, you need to be working on rebuilding that trust. If you came into the relationship with “trust issues,” this is your issue, and you need to be working on it. People with trust issues may need to seek individual counseling. Healthy relationships are characterized by high levels of trust and acceptance for each other.
Neither of you holds on to resentments.
Resentments poison relationships. The resentments you harbor that you haven’t been able to release prevents you from being happy. Both people in a relationship need to be working on getting rid of their resentments. Unhealthy relationships are characterized by high levels of resentment on both party’s parts.
The two of you are emotionally intimate.
In romantic relationships, physical intimacy helps build the couple’s relationship. But physical intimacy by itself is not enough. Healthy relationships need to include emotional closeness. If you don’t feel you can share your feelings with your partner, this is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.
You feel safe when you’re with your partner.
Your partner should make you feel safe, and you should make them feel secure. Any relationship where someone feels unsafe is inherently unhealthy.
You can talk to each other about anything.
Open communication is essential for a healthy relationship. You should be able to talk with your partner about anything. That doesn’t mean your partner needs to agree with either your thinking or your feelings, but they should be open to hearing what you need to say. If there are things your partner wants to talk about that you don’t want to hear, you probably have work to do on yourself.
You both make repair efforts.
In healthy relationships, whenever there are problems, both parties need to make repair efforts. If you or your partner are holding onto grudges, unwilling to give in or even to discuss possible solutions, these are all signs that this is an unhealthy relationship.
You appreciate them and know they appreciate you.
Being appreciated and giving appreciation are not just nice things to have. High levels of appreciation flowing in both directions are essential for a healthy relationship.
While none of these characteristics are inherently all or nothing, each of the things I’ve described above is a good indicator of the health of your relationship. If your relationship is unhealthy, or simply not as healthy as you would like, you’ll need to decide if you are willing to work on yourself and work on your relationship with your partner. If you’ve discovered you’re in an unhealthy relationship, consider getting professional help either for the two of you or for each of you individually. Please don’t spend the rest of your life in an unhealthy relationship wishing that it would somehow miraculously change. Professional help is available for relationships and individual emotional problems.
Staying connected with David Joel Miller
Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!
My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.
Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.
Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.
As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.
Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.
Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.
Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.
Planned Accidents The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.
Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.
What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?
Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.
For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller
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