What are the signs of a healthy Relationship?
There is no such thing as the perfect person or perfect relationship – rather it is about how perfect you can be for each other because you are intentional about bringing the best out in each other and growing together as your relationship evolves.
Building a healthy relationship requires having some courageous conversations to understand what is important to each other, what your expectations are of each other and your relationship and how you go about navigating this throughout the lifetime of your relationship.
Here are seven signs (original source: Darren Magee) that you have co-created a healthy relationship:
1 – Boundaries are respected
You have discussed what is important, what your deal-breakers or non-negotiables are, and you respect each other’s boundaries. You don’t try and coerce, convince or manipulate your partner into changing their position e.g.: your partner does not feel comfortable with you drinking and driving yet you did and you try to persuade them that it was only one drink, around the corner from home, nothing happened and you’re fine so they mustn’t overreact…..
2 – Agreeing to disagree and resolving conflict and differences constructively
It is unrealistic to expect that you are always going to agree on everything 100% of the time. You are two unique individuals who have had different upbringings and therefore will have different perspectives and views on life. Embracing your differences and seeing them as ways to compliment each other rather than clash with each other will go a long way. One of you may be good at organising and planning while the other is good at being spontaneous.
This can play out as one being controlling, and the other being disorganised which is not necessarily true. You can both benefit from these differences by learning to leverage each other’s strengths in different situations and learn from each other how to be a little bit more organised/planned and a little more spontaneous at times too. In some situations, you may need to agree to disagree and that’s ok. Your relationship consists of much more than trying to keep score or get the upper hand so choose your battles wisely.
3 – We don’t lose our sense of self, our identity, our self-respect in the relationship
A healthy relationship entails two people retaining their individuality, but at the same time coming together to co-create their relationship (i.e. the us, we and ours).
This means that you are free to be yourself, free to do things on your own without your partner (within established boundaries) and to voice your views, ideas and opinions even if you don’t agree with each other.
It’s important that you do things for yourself and have your “me time” where you retain your sense of self and identity e.g. going to gym on your own, meeting up or going away with your boy/girlfriends without your partner.
4 – Encouragement, not discouragement and constant criticism
Every single one of us wants to feel loved and accepted, most importantly by our partner. Knowing that out partner has our backs and that we can rely and depend on them is what helps build emotional safety and connecting in a relationship.
When a partner starts becoming overly critical, there is usually an underlying reason (e.g. childhood wounding, feeling invisible, invalidated, unappreciated, insecurity etc) which if not addressed, can lead to negativity and toxicity, completely eroding your relationship.
It is important to understand what is contributing to negative remarks and behaviours which can end up breaking each other down instead of building each other up. You should be able to rely on each other for emotional support, encouragement during the tough times, and to celebrate each other’s successes too.
5 – Managing expectations on self and other person
Unmet expectations can cause a lot of hurt and pain in a relationship yet very few couples sit down and clarify what their expectations are of each other and their relationship. We often assume we are aligned and on the same page because we don’t have these conversations and regularly check in with each other as to whether we are still aligned or not as our relationship evolves and we grow as individuals and a couple.
Having unrealistic expectations will only lead to conflict later down the line e.g. always expecting your partner to do everything that you want to do and not being willing to do things they are interested in. Always wanting to spend time with your friends and family and not being willing to reciprocate with their friends and family members.
6 – Are you meeting each others needs?
Another common expectation we have is that our partners are going to be able to meet all our needs all the time. This is unrealistic and only sets them up for failure.
Our partner may be able to meet a lot of our needs but we may also need to get some of our needs met in other ways such as having a mentor or role model, friends that can give us honest feedback and call us out on our behaviour or that share similar interests that our partner doesn’t e.g. going to museums and art galleries giving our partner the time and space to do things we may not be interested in such as going to sporting events.
7 – Safety, the relationship is a safe and nurturing place for both people, not fearing reactions and behaviours from the other person.
There are 5 different pillars through which we transact (engage) when it comes to our relationship – functional, emotional, physical, financial and sexual. One partner may be stronger in some areas and or speak a different love language to the other and knowing what these traits look like can go a long way in creating safety and a nurturing relationship.
One partner may express care by doing things for their partner while the other expresses care through physical touch and affection. If we did not know these traits are expressions of love and care, we can assume our partner is selfish or does not care.
Communicating our wants and needs in a way that is not demanding, but rather lets our partner in on what is important to us and how it makes us feel builds a strong connected and nurturing relationship.
Paula Quinsee: Relationship Coach, author and Speaker specializing in creating healthy relationships at home and in the workplace to co-create a more human connected world and positively impact people’s lives. Paula is also a passionate advocate for mental health and Gender Based Violence, an international and Tedx speaker and author of two self-help guides: Embracing Conflict and Embracing No. More info: https://paulaquinsee.com/