Romantic relationships can be exciting, frustrating, exhilarating, intense, romantic, full of fun and sometimes heartbreaking. One day you can’t bear to be apart and the next you don’t ever want to see each other again and then back again. With all of the different emotions flying around (sometimes all at once!) how do you know what a healthy relationship looks like? Each relationship looks a little bit different but there are some non negotiables that make a healthy relationship.
Since it’s Valentines Day, we thought it might be a good idea to talk a bit about what a healthy relationship is….. and isn’t.
When you’re in love everything is heightened. The sun shines a little brighter. Toast tastes like French toast, a gift of wildflowers becomes a bouquet from Botanical and even sitting near each other sets off electricity.
It’s natural to get swept up in the joy and the drama but it’s also important to jump off the ride from time to time to evaluate your relationship.
A healthy relationship should always include the following characteristics.
Good Communication I know I know. Nothing sounds less romantic than communication, but hear me out. Being able to talk to each other about what’s important and feelings that matter to you is the basis for any healthy relationship. If you and your partner take the time to listen to one another, even for the hard conversations, then each person has the freedom to be themselves and the connection to understand expectations. This ultimately empowers you and your partner to help one another get what you want out of the relationship. Pretty romantic, huh?
Mutual Respect Does your partner get you? I mean really get you? Do they love that you would rather listen to Beethoven’s Adagio than Dua Lipa’s Love Again because the bassoon is life? Do they listen when you say you’re not comfortable doing something? Do you value their opinion even if wasn’t what you were hoping they’d say? Do they support you in the things that are most important to you even if they don’t necessarily agree with or understand them? Do you respect that they have different views and commitments? Respect in a relationship means that each person values the other, understands and doesn’t try to challenge the other person’s boundaries.
TrustIt’s normal to get jealous from time to time. Jealousy is a natural emotion. And your partner is just so adorable! How each of you handles the green eyed monster is what’s important. Making time to get together with friends and participate in activities that don’t necessarily include a partner is a healthy and normal part of any relationship. Trusting that your partner has your back and your best interest at heart gives you both the freedom to spend time with others and share those experiences knowing they enrich all your relationships. Without all the worry and stress!
HonestyA cousin of trust and definitely worth its own mention. We all know how important honesty is in fostering a healthy relationship. In a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, it helps strengthen bonds. When our partner is giving us a true picture of what’s going on we have a realistic foundation from which to build.
Ask yourself. Do I feel comfortable telling my significant other truth? If the answer is no, is it more about them or me? If it’s yes, how can I tell them in a way that respects and honours both of us?
SupportBeing a shoulder to cry on when things are tough is almost an official job description in the dating world. Being able to support one another no matter what is going on is a good indicator of a healthy relationship and you need both. The burden of pain becomes more manageable when we can share it. Equally though, an accomplishment becomes more joyful when those we love celebrate with us.
If your partner can only be there when times are good (or bad) the relationship becomes conditional. That isn’t healthy. You want someone who can see you at your best and worst and either offer personal support or connect you with someone who can. Or be in the front row cheering you on.
Maintaining your Own Identity Its natural that in the rush of love and dating you want to compromise to make your partner happy but this should not come at the expense of losing what makes you well… you. You have your own lives (Families, friends, interests, habits, commitments) and you should continue to spend time developing them even when you find your bae’s music expresses all the feelings you didn’t think anyone else had. Part of growing together in a relationship is appreciating each person’s uniqueness.
If you find that you are always deferring to your partner’s interests or changing just to keep them interested it may be an indication that the relationship isn’t making you the best version of yourself.
Signs that Your Relationship is Not be a Healthy OneMany of us learn about intimate relationships through watching and imitating those close to us. Someone who has grown up around violent or disrespectful behaviour may not have learned what a healthy relationship should look like. A relationship that involves disrespectful, controlling, violent or abusive (emotional, verbal, physical or sexual) behaviour is unhealthy.
Whilst you might feel bad for someone who has grown up exposed to unhealthy relationships, it’s important that we look after yourself and not become a victim. It’s not healthy to stay in a relationship that involves abusive behaviour.
Some important questions to ask yourself in any relationship:
Do I feel respected in this relationship? Verbal insults, mean language, nasty jokes, coercion, threats, sexual pressure (verbal, physical or via social media) are not signs of how much your partner loves you. They are abuse.
Does my partner:
get angry if I don’t do things their way?
criticise the way I look or dress or tell me I can’t get anyone else?
keep me from seeing friends or talking to anyone else?
want me to quit an activity that I enjoy and that is meaningful to me?
ever threaten to or physically hit me?
try to force me into sexual situations that I am not comfortable with?
use social media to threaten, coerce or blackmail me into doing something that I don’t want to do?
Talk to a trusted family member or friend and get help so that you can stay safe. As always if you have any questions please get in touch with us at Windsor Child & Adolescent Psychology. We’re all about healthy relationships here.
This Valentines Day, take some time to look a little closer look at your relationship. We hope that these reminders have been helpful to you.
Here’s to loving and feeling loved this Valentines Day….. And Healthy Relationships. Happy Valentines Day!!!!