Is your Relationship Healthy?
Have you ever wondered, “Is this relationship good for me?”. This is a loaded question that millions of people have asked themselves. The reality is that many relationships are unhealthy and toxic. There are many facets to this question, and the common answer is, you know the truth in your heart. The truth is hard to look at, and sometimes you don’t actually want to admit to it. So, what are some of the truths to look at here and telltale signs?
As with everything, we are all individuals and different, and therefore what is healthy and normal for one couple will be slightly different to another. Just because Susan hates to cook but loves to keep track of the finances doesn’t mean Angela is the same. So, what is healthy and normal in Susan’s family is different to Angela’s. What remains the same is how we treat each other and behave towards one another: with the timeless virtues of love, joy, kindness and goodness… these stand true to every relationship.
What are the signs of a healthy relationship?
“A healthy relationship” is a broad term, with many different definitions because what makes a relationship successful depends on the needs of the people within it.
Lindsey Antin, a therapist, explains that “One thing healthy relationships largely share is adaptability. They adapt to circumstances and the fact that we’re always changing and going through different phases in life.”
Being able to speak freely and honestly without the fear of your partner’s reaction is a key factor in a healthy relationship. Openness is important in every relationship, whether romantic or not. It’s important that couples are able to have different opinions and to be able to express them through open communication, without tension, arguing and animosity.
Talk to each other: sometimes that means making the time to talk. Set aside time each day and make it a priority. If you find you are tired and you don’t know what to talk about, ask your partner about their emotions in the day.
Relationship coaches agree that the first sign of a relationship starting to fail is through lack of communication and every day, mundane chatting. Keep the spark alive by keeping the conversation flowing.
Trust is the backbone of any good and healthy relationship, and it is often viewed as the most important part of a relationship. Creating trust is fundamental to a successful and healthy relationship. That’s because trust goes hand-in-hand with other essential components of a relationship; such as, honesty, open communication, vulnerability, and respect, making it a prerequisite to having a healthy and thriving relationship.
Sadly, trust is something that can easily be lost and, unfortunately, ‘lack of trust’ can be taken into a relationship. Often when someone has experienced hurt and rejection in life through other broken, unhealthy and toxic relationships, that person will take that ‘lack of trust’ into their new relationship.
Respect is a fundamental pillar in any relationship, especially your romantic one. A relationship thrives on respect which overflows into love. There is a brilliant book: Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. It was written by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs and explains the paramount importance of respect within a relationship.
All healthy relationships need an element of give and take. As we are different with differing opinions, it is important that there is a healthy compromise. This is when two people, who view things differently, find a common understanding of how to move forward. A healthy compromise is when both agree to work and alter how to approach the situation, even though you see things differently. This does not mean you need to see the situation as your partner does, but instead choose to agree. As the saying goes, “agree to disagree.” A healthy compromise means you reach an understanding.
A healthy relationship has balance: you are 2 people with your own space and identity but remain dependent on each other. Healthline explains (https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-relationship#characteristics), ‘Healthy relationships are best described as interdependent. Interdependence means you rely on each other for mutual support but still maintain your identity as a unique individual.’
You know that you have their love and approval but your self-esteem and worth do not rely on your partner giving it to you. You can spend time with friends, family and colleagues outside of your relationship, while knowing your relationship is safe and secure. You can each have your own hobbies and interests.
You respect each other’s boundaries
A healthy relationship means you’re both on the same team. In a healthy relationship, both parties discuss and agree upon important subjects that are meaningful to one another. If one partner needs to study, the other partner needs to respect that. An unsupportive partner in an unhealthy relationship doesn’t respect the needs and goals, by distracting and disrupting the partner needing to study. Partners in a healthy relationship will respect and honour each other’s boundaries.
You encourage each other to have and pursue your own goals
When I think of a healthy relationship, the song by Omi, ‘Cheerleader’, pops into my mind. Why? Because when someone is your cheerleader, they are always in your corner. They want the best for you. They want you to achieve your goals and dreams and are happy to watch and support you while you pursue them. In essence, they want to see you flourish and grow. Your success is their success.
You remain curious.
This is often the underrated and underestimated key factor to not just a healthy relationship, but instead a great relationship. What makes a relationship great is being interested in what your partner is interested in. This does not mean you have to take part in it, or genuinely care about the interest. But instead, be curious about their interest in it. You listen to them talk about their interests and you support their interests and hobbies. Your husband might love fishing and you don’t love fishing, but you love him. Therefore, you take the time to listen about his fishing, you make him lunch to go fishing and you support his hobby. Take the time to go along on a fishing trip or buy him fishing magazines or equipment and ask how his fishing went. Learn to support him and he will cherish you for it and vice versa is true.
A true sign of a healthy relationship is being about to ‘Let go’. We all make mistakes; we are all imperfect and just human after all. Therefore, we all do things at times that might hurt the other person. The key is to be vulnerable and say, ‘I’m sorry’ and on the flip side, be able to forgive and move on. The key to letting go is being able to do just that, let go and move on, without remembering and constantly reliving what your partner did wrong.
Accepting that they have a past before they met you.
This is often tough for some people to accept. You had a life before your partner and they had a life before you. What you did in that previous life and who you may have dated does not have baring on who you are now or your current relationship. The same goes for your partner. Letting go of the past is important to being happy in your present.
Intimacy and affection
Every relationship needs love and affection to truly flourish. Your partner needs to know you intimately love them; that you are still passionate about them and attracted to them.
Safety within the relationship
Couples in a healthy relationship feel safe with each other. This means you both feel physically, emotionally, and even financially safe. When you’re in a healthy relationship, your well-being is your partner’s priority.
What are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?
If you experience any of these points below, it is time to re-evaluate your relationship.
- Lack of support
- Lack of boundaries
- Toxic communication
- Controlling behaviours
- Patterns of disrespect towards others and yourself
- Ignoring your needs
- Lack of self-care
- Hoping for change but it’s not happening
- Fear of your partner’s reaction
- Diminished self-worth
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- Separation from friends and family
- Interference with work or school
- Fear and intimidation
- Verbal abuse, name-calling, and put-downs
- Financial restriction and abuse
- Threats of self-harm
- Physical violence
Do you have a healthy relationship?
Now is always a good time; as the saying goes, ‘Don’t wait for tomorrow, to do what you can now.’ You know in your heart if the person you are with is good for you or not, but if you are doubting your decisions, ask a close friend or family member who loves and cares for you.
Take the questionnaire to find out if you have a healthy relationship?
Go to a therapist
An unhealthy relationship can be fixed. People can change and if you are willing to work on changing, then seeing a relationship therapist or coach is an excellent step to take. Sometimes we need to learn how to become a safe person, not everyone has been given the correct tools growing up. Many people have been exposed to broken, toxic and unsafe relationship throughout their lives; being safe and healthy is not the normal response for them. Everyone can change but not everyone wants to change; it is important to identify where you and your partner are at. It is important that if you have been exposed to or are currently in an abusive relationship, distance is the best place to be. Cutting toxic ties are easier than fixing toxic behaviour. Seek the guidance from a therapist
and work on whether to step out from an unhealthy relationship or if you can fix what seems to be damaged.