What’s love got to do with it? Building a healthy relationship takes more than just falling in love. To maintain a healthy relationship, both parties will need to be willing to invest their time and effort. Even more, they’ll both need to work on their ability to trust and self-reflect. Whether you’re looking for long-distance relationship advice, signs that you need to leave a toxic relationship, or just tips to help you become a better partner or spouse, these characteristics of a healthy relationship can help you better understand why we behave the way we do, why we deserve more, and how we can become more loving partners.
9 Essentials for a Healthy Relationship
1. A healthy relationship needs trust.
For a relationship to grow and thrive, both partners must trust each other and feel secure. When both partners can express their most intimate feelings without the fear of retribution or manipulation, they contribute to a safe space for honest communication, mutual respect, and active acceptance.
Trust is an essential component of any successful relationship. When that trust has been broken, it can be difficult to repair but not impossible. By practicing healthy relationship habits like setting boundaries and taking responsibility, couples can foster a strong sense of trust that can move their relationship forward.
2. A healthy relationship needs communication.
Both partners communicate openly and effectively with each other in a healthy relationship. Since the point of communication is to help both parties gain perspective, good communication will help both partners better understand the other person’s feelings, needs, and wants. Developing a deeper understanding of your partner’s feelings is a great way to show interest in the future of your relationship.
The better you understand your partner and their triggers, the more equipped you will be to support them in challenging times. Prioritize honesty and transparency in all your communications and be realistic with your commitments. With open communication, couples can learn to solve conflicts peacefully, cultivate mutual trust and respect, and get what they need without manipulation.
3. Healthy relationships require respect from both sides.
We learn the importance of respecting others when we are young, but as we grow older, we end up disrespecting the ones we love the most. Respect is crucial to a successful and lasting relationship, but it requires a continuous and active understanding on both sides.
Respecting your partner means treating them with kindness and consideration, speaking courteously and politely, and listening to learn. Recognize that your partner has a lot to offer the world. They will likely make decisions based on their experiences, which may be much different than yours. Try to be respectful of their needs as a person without projecting your own insecurities.
4. Healthy relationships require both partners to have an equal say in decision making.
One of the signs of a toxic relationship is when one person has power and control over the other. In a healthy relationship, each person has their interests represented and each partner has an equal say in decision-making.
Just as a healthy relationship may look different for everyone, equality in your relationship is a dynamic that will have to be defined and nurtured by both you and your partner. Give each other the grace and freedom to make mistakes and grow while acknowledging the validity of your partner’s needs, however different they may be from your own.
5. A healthy relationship is built on unconditional support.
Healthy relationships require both partners to support each other emotionally, mentally, and physically. While a happy marriage or monogamous relationship could be defined as a loving union of two people that work to balance each other’s individual needs and values to enjoy a deep bond of love and trust, over time, unhealthy habits like poor communication can wear on the bond between two people.
A person may choose to withdraw their unconditional support from their relationship for any number of valid reasons, but this will effectively create a divide or disconnect between them and their partner. Even if you feel unequipped to handle the challenge, let your partner rant without fear of judgment or loss. Pay attention to how their values might change and anticipate their needs. Use open communication to explore the ways in which you can show up for your partner and watch the emotional connection deepen.
6. A healthy relationship requires personal independence.
When two people decide to come together, they make a commitment to each other and the relationship. Their true love is proven by their devotion and dedication to one another, but the comfort of a happy relationship can lead to one or both parties becoming stagnant in their personal development or flattening certain parts of their identity.
Maintaining a healthy relationship over time will always require personal growth, and it’s important to cultivate your sense of identity outside of the relationship. Never let yourself or your partner feel guilty for taking time for yourself. Take yourself out to dinner, spend time with friends, develop your own hobbies and interests, and learn to recognize needs in your own emotions.
7. A healthy relationship requires flexibility.
A healthy relationship requires both partners to be flexible and willing to compromise. When a person is open to adapting to new circumstances, they are pushed to explore the boundaries of their self-reflection and are more likely to experience personal growth in a challenging environment.
Emotional flexibility will allow you to see and experience things from a broader perspective. But being flexible doesn’t mean bending over backward and neglecting your own needs! Emotional flexibility is about having those difficult conversations to keep the relationship feeling balanced and rewarding for all parties involved. Allow yourself to process emotions without taking them too personally. Try to understand every disagreement as an opportunity to build a new home, rather than as an attack on your old one.
8. Healthy relationships make time for emotional intimacy.
Humans crave connection. So how can we feel so disconnected from our partners in our day to day? Being in the same vicinity, even the same bed, isn’t enough. Emotional intimacy in a relationship requires trust, listening skills, empathy, vulnerability, and support. Your partner needs to feel seen, heard, and understood.
Building emotional intimacy takes time, but it starts with a single conversation. Listen closely to your partner’s dreams and fears and approach their interests and opinions with respect and care. Many times, the feeling of safety in a healthy relationship can manifest as playfulness. There’s nothing like sharing the best (and worst) moments of your life with a responsive and thoughtful partner.
9. Healthy relationships operate on shared values.
The key to a happy relationship isn’t to just agree on everything, but to have constructive conversations based on the couple’s shared values and goals. Shared values are important to a successful relationship because they are a core part of the decision-making process, impacting everything from conflict resolution to communication styles. Think about what you love about your partner – their commitment to loyalty, their selflessness, their capacity for empathy, or their honesty.
What we value for our own lives we often seek in a partner. So instead of focusing on your differences in challenging situations, center your discussion around your shared values. If you value honesty and admire honesty in your partner, you can trust that communication with your partner will serve that purpose. It’s a great way of reminding yourself of what’s truly important in life.
Take the first steps toward healing and a healthy relationship
Counseling and therapy are incredible tools for helping us recognize the signs of a toxic relationship and deconstruct our own coping mechanisms. The faith-based counselors and licensed therapists at New Hope Counseling and Wellness Center in Columbia, SC provide individuals with the intensive support and resources necessary to begin the healing process and learn how to be in a healthy relationship.
We offer trauma-informed care for those suffering from eating disorders, domestic violence, PTSD, mental health issues, and more. Through counseling and therapy, learn to recognize the characteristics of a healthy relationship and the importance of personal development. Trauma-informed care appreciates the nuances of emotional wellness and can help you transform your life. Call us to reclaim your wellness today!