A Healthy Relationship Can Be Hard To Find
A Healthy Relationship Can Be Hard To Find
Dear Tacit,

I have recently met someone new and I really like him.  But I have a bad track record with relationships that become a disaster.  How can I tell if this one is going to be a healthy relationship?

Signed: A Healthy Relationship Can Be Hard to Find

Dear A Healthy Relationship Can Be Hard to Find,

You are so right – a healthy relationship can be hard to find!  They take a lot of work – not just at the beginning (when both people are trying to learn the hard truths about one another), but also throughout all the years moving forward (love is an ongoing process that cannot become stagnant or it will fade away).  People grow and change, and the connection in the relationship between both partners must be flexible enough to allow this to happen in healthy ways, but strong/firm enough to be the dependable constant that also exists, when times get challenging.

In general, a healthy relationship is characterized by some key main ingredients: mutual respect, trust, effective communication, support, and shared values. Both partners need to be willing and able to invest the time and the effort that is needed to nurture and encourage/maintain the relationship.

  1. Communication: Effective communication is vital for a healthy relationship. Partners should be able to express their thoughts, feelings, and needs openly and honestly to one another. Active listening, validation and empathy skills are crucial for understanding each other’s perspectives. Open and non-judgmental communication helps to resolve conflicts, prevent misunderstandings, and build trust.
  2. Mutual Respect: Respect forms the foundation of a healthy relationship. Each partner should value and appreciate the other’s opinions, boundaries, and autonomy. Respect also involves treating each other with kindness, courtesy, and consideration. Respecting personal space, privacy, and individuality is essential for maintaining a healthy sense of self within the relationship.
  3. Trust and Honesty: Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship. Both partners should be able to rely on each other and feel secure in the relationship. Honesty and transparency foster trust, while deception and betrayal eat away at it. Trust can be built by being dependable, keeping promises, and maintaining integrity. Building trust takes time and effort but is crucial for a healthy and lasting relationship.
  4. Equality and Fairness: Healthy relationships are based on equality and fairness. Both partners should have equal say and involvement in decision-making and should share responsibilities. Power imbalances or attempts to control the other person can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction. Fairness involves considering each other’s needs, compromising, and finding mutually beneficial solutions.
  5. Support and Encouragement: A healthy relationship is a source of support and encouragement. Partners should be each other’s cheerleaders, offering emotional support, understanding, and validation. They should celebrate each other’s achievements and provide comfort during difficult times. Supporting each other’s goals and aspirations helps in personal growth and strengthens the bond between partners.
  6. Individuality and Interdependence: While being in a relationship, it is important to maintain a sense of individuality. Each partner should have their own interests, hobbies, and social life outside the relationship. At the same time, healthy relationships foster interdependence, where partners also rely on each other for emotional support, companionship, and collaboration.
  7. Conflict Resolution: Conflicts are a normal part of any relationship. However, how conflicts are handled can determine the health and longevity of the relationship. Healthy relationships involve resolving conflicts in a constructive and respectful manner. This includes active listening, avoiding blame or criticism, and seeking compromise or win-win solutions. It is essential to address conflicts rather than ignore or suppress them, as unresolved issues can create resentment and distance between partners.
  8. Shared Values and Goals: Shared values and goals create a sense of unity and purpose in a relationship. Partners should have compatible values, priorities, and long-term goals. When partners have a common vision for the future, it strengthens the bond and provides a sense of direction.

If I had to summarize one key word to describe the essential elements of a healthy relationship, it would be “friendship”.  When two people treat each other as close friends, they will work on ensuring that their communication, mutual respect, trust, support, and shared values align.  Relationships (especially life-long ones) are NOT easy.  There will be ups and downs along the way – this is to be expected.  But by prioritizing the ingredients of a deep friendship, partners can cultivate a relationship that is built on love, understanding, and long-term happiness. This is what your new partner needs to be able to offer to you.  And this is what you need to be prepared to offer in return.

Take care!

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