Last month we talked about how a healthy relationship starts with looking at ourselves. When we come at dating from a place of knowing our reasons for dating and what we’re looking for, we’ll be less likely to waste our time and someone else’s time, eliminating some of the inevitable risk of getting hurt and hurting others as well. But this still doesn’t mean we’ll find ourselves a healthy relationship, even if we know ourselves really well and are in a healthy spot.
So this month, we want to explore a few characteristics of healthy relationships. Begin to think about your own relationships or future relationships... are these qualities there in your current or potential relationships and partner?
Finding someone else who’s in a healthy place and creating a healthy relationship together is not as easy or simple as we hope it should be. In many ways that’s why we date people, to find out if they could be a good long-term mate. So while you go on dates, assess your relationship or are considering getting into the dating scene, here are three really important things to look for to determine if you have a healthy relationship that you may want to consider moving forward with.
· Mutual respect
Relationships shouldn’t be one-sided. Yes, there are moments and seasons where one person needs more support than the other but in those seasons you should still feel respected. If you find yourself giving constantly and not receiving anything in return, feeling anxious, alone and unsupported, you may want to reassess whether you wish to continue with the relationship.
Healthy relationships include fairness and equality. If your partner is going through a hard time there is a difference between supporting them through a hard season and being taken advantage of by someone who is not super healthy or doesn’t have the ability to ever give you what you need. Even if your partner is going through a hard season of life, they should be able to recognize the support you are giving them and appreciate it, not take advantage of it. If their struggles will likely be a long term thing, it’s important to consider how this will play out for you, your emotional and physical health and your relationship in the long term.
You should also feel comfortable to share your own struggles in a healthy relationship and should feel respected and heard. Even if your partner is not in a place at the moment to be able to support you in the way you may hope, there should still be a willingness to hear you, try to be there for you and a respect for you and your feelings. A cold shoulder, ill-treatment or disregard for one’s time, energy and feelings can feel disrespectful. Both people in a relationship should feel cared for, admired and safe to be vulnerable.
· Good communication
Healthy relationships involve getting to know one another and understanding each other (or at least working towards understanding each other). Two separate people will not think or act the same way all the time. There will be disagreements and differences to navigate, even in a healthy relationship. So it’s imperative that a healthy relationship involves communicating feelings, thoughts and expectations. It involves being vulnerable about our own thoughts and feelings so the other person gets to know us and, in turn, also listening well so we can understand and get to know the other person. Communication builds intimacy and understanding. These are healthy things that result from growing in relationship with someone.
Honesty has a lot to do with both respect and communication. If you can’t trust what your partner says and there are repeated patterns of lying or withholding information, it will be very hard to grow together in true intimacy. In a similar sense, if you don’t feel you can be yourself in a relationship, there is no opportunity to truly be known and loved for who you are. Look for someone you can trust. Relationships require both people to be trustworthy and honest.
Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list of what a healthy relationship looks like but perhaps it’s a start. It is important that we value ourselves and our partners, challenging each other to work towards bettering ourselves and the ways we communicate and do relationships with others.
If you think you may be in an unhealthy relationship but aren’t sure, or don’t know how to move forward in a current relationship, you are in good company. Many of us desire to improve our relationships and struggle with finding the right companion. I encourage you to reach out to a trusted friend, family member or mentor about your concerns or questions. You deserve love and respect. As humans that have also been through our share of healthy and unhealthy relationships, our client advocates at Pregnancy Options are also available to talk with you about your relationships and how to move forward in life and love with confidence and hope. You are not alone.
What are some other characteristics of a healthy relationship? Comment below if you want to share some ideas with other readers.