If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got lots of experience with bad relationships – but what are the signs of a healthy one? Fortunately, I’ve been able to save myself tons of grief by learning the top five characteristics of a healthy relationship.
1. The first characteristic is respect. Healthy relationships are built around the respect that two people have for each other. Respect is the seed from which things like understanding, empathy, and patience grow. If your partner is just going to treat you poorly, why would you want to be with them?
2. The second characteristic of a healthy relationship is mutual support. One of the best things about being a in good relationship is being able to rely on your partner. Why are you hitching on to somebody’s wagon if you don’t want to support their efforts? More importantly, why get involved with somebody who isn’t going to support your efforts? If your partner isn’t going to be supportive, you’d be better off on your own anyway. You don’t want blind support in everything you do. After all, you might have a few habits you’d be better off without. For example, if you’re partner is nagging you to quit smoking, they’re probably doing it out of concern for your well being.
3. The third characteristic of a healthy relationship is trust. When we’re in a relationship we rely on our partner, we rely on them to pick us up from work, to make sure the dogs get fed, and most importantly, to be honest and faithful. Trust doesn’t just happen though, it takes work. By living up to your obligations and abiding by the mutually agreed terms of your partnership, the trust that can bind you and your partner together is able to grow and flourish.
4. The fourth characteristic of a healthy relationship is being direct. Compromise is a given, but emotionally bullying or blackmailing your partner is a terrible thing to do. How would you feel if the situation was reversed and your partner was constantly using guilt or shame to get you to do things you didn’t want to? Obviously, you would feel miserable. If every disagreement is settled by threats of a break up, or withholding affection, or some other kind of “punishment” the relationship is not healthy.
5. The fifth characteristic is equality. Remember, you’re partners. While some people may want to be “taken care of” by their partner, and some people may want to “take care of” their partner, the truth is most of us want to feel like we’re contributing equally to a relationship. Nobody likes to feel like they’re doing all the work. Not only that, but if you’re dependent on your partner emotionally and financially, what are you going to do if the relationship ends?
There are many more characteristics of a healthy relationship, but these five are the most important. Relationships work both ways, and while you might be doing everything you can, if your partner isn’t treating you right, you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking everything is fine.