Let’s be real. Relationships can be complicated, but learning the signs and signals of a healthy relationship can help provide a significant amount of clarity in an otherwise tricky-to-navigate love life. Hopefully, these 10 signs that you’re in a healthy relationship can be a good starting point to determine the trajectory of you and your significant other’s relationship. Quick disclaimer, though. All these tips are based on my own personal experiences with what I’ve learned from maintaining a healthy relationship with my S.O. for 3 years, as well as from the experiences I’ve heard from others. That being said, don’t take this list too seriously. A relationship is a deeply personal and subjective concept, so it should ultimately be up to your own personal judgments and emotions to determine what constitutes a healthy relationship for you and your S.O.’s personal needs and desires.
- Trust. Duh.
I know, I know. This is about as cliche and as obvious as it could possibly get. But trust is widely considered an integral part of any relationship (romantic or otherwise) for a reason. In fact, I would go so far as to say that trust is the basis of all relationships. Without mutual trust for each other, it’s difficult (maybe even impossible) for any relationship to thrive. You and/or your partner should not have to worry about each other’s actions or intentions if you truly trust one and other. But remember, trust is earned and not given, and it is also important to recognize (especially in new and budding relationships) that everyone develops trust at different rates depending on their previous experiences, so it is important that you and your partner take initiative to build that trust for one and other by showing each other that you can be trusted and that, in turn, you trust them.
- Respect for each other’s individuality.
Some of the most painful relationships to watch friends go through from the sidelines are the ones where one member of the relationship will force the other member to compromise who they are as an individual. I’ve seen this occur in so many different forms, whether it’s not getting that super cool haircut, tattoo, or piercing out of fear their S.O. won’t like it, withholding parts of their personality that aren’t as attractive, trying to get a smaller waist and a bigger butt to “earn” the attention of their partner, or a million other things. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking for your partner’s input on things like this ––in fact, it’s wonderful that you value their opinion ––however, in the end, your identity is your own choice and nobody should be compromising that. If they aren’t accepting you for all of you, they probably aren’t the one.
- Open and honest communication.
Ah, yes, another cliche relationship tip. But seriously, honest and open communication is absolutely key to any successful relationship. When you’re in a relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about absolutely anything that’s on your mind. You and your partner should be providing each other with a safe space to listen and to talk to one and another, no matter how uncomfortable the subject matter might be. By providing each other with a safe place for each other to confide in, this works to eliminate the prospect of secret-keeping and will allow a healthy exchange of conversation that will continue to foster mutual trust in each other.
- Regular physical connection.
Now, “physical connection” is a pretty broad term, considering everyone is unique in their level of comfort with themselves and with others; however, I would say it’s safe to claim that a healthy relationship should have at least some form of a regular and consistent physical connection. Regardless of whether that physical connection is sex, cuddling, hand-holding, kissing, or anything else in that realm of affection, a mutual physical connection that occurs on a regular basis is incredibly important in a healthy and stable relationship. (Obviously, this isn’t including long-distance relationships where both members of a relationship are geographically unable to maintain a physical connection. There are plenty of other ways to keep this part of your relationship alive whether it’s with technology or supplementing with other romantic gestures when you are unable to be with each other physically.)
- Having conversations, not fights.
Say it with me folks: fighting regularly is not healthy. You’d think that this one would set in considering how obvious it seems, but it’s crazy to see how many relationships seem to rely on fights and disagreements as a source of drive or a supplement for passion in a relationship. Even as a kid I remember hearing people say that fighting is normal and healthy in a relationship, but as I’ve grown into myself and found a relationship that is genuinely wonderful, stable, and healthy, I’ve learned that this is not the case. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that it should always be all rainbows and butterflies and that you shouldn’t ever bicker with your S.O.. Disagreements are completely normal every once in a while, but it’s how you both handle those disagreements that matters most. Disagreements should be met with open communication, honesty, and compromise rather than defensiveness, anger, and fighting.
- A mutual understanding of each other’s needs.
At its core, a relationship is an understanding between two people. When you’re in love and in a healthy relationship, you should at least have a basic understanding of what the other person needs and how they perceive love, and if you don’t know, then you should try and get to know how to effectively show your partner that you love them (and they should do the same towards you). This is what many people refer to as a “love language.” Whether it’s “Words of Affirmation.” “Acts of Service,” “Quality Time,” “Receiving/Giving Gifts,” or “Physical Touch,” recognizing how both you and your partner give and receive love is a crucial step in ensuring a mutual feeling of love and security in your relationship.
- Loyalty and commitment.
This is yet another painstakingly obvious one, yet sadly the message still doesn’t ring clear with a lot of relationships. In a healthy relationship, you and your partner should feel secure that you are each other’s one and only partner. This goes hand in hand with the first point about trust. You simply cannot have a healthy relationship if one or both members are not fully invested in it or are being unfaithful to that relationship.
- Simply having fun when you’re together.
Not much explanation required for this one. There’s not really a point in being in a relationship if you aren’t happy and able to have fun with the other person. You should be enjoying each other’s company!
- Dating with the intention of a future.
Okay, don’t let this one scare you. I’m not saying that all relationships should be entered with the intention of getting married, having kids, and spending a lifetime together. This is totally unrealistic and I imagine would make heartbreaks a hell of a lot harder. In fact, I think it’s pretty problematic and detrimental to relationships to be living in some fantasy world where you expect some perfect storybook future. That being said, though, I think that dating with at least some intention of growing together as individuals and inviting each other into the other’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations is important to maintaining a healthy relationship and moving that relationship forward and growing together rather than just staying stagnant (which is also totally okay if that’s what makes you both happy).
- Always having each other’s backs.
Last, but certainly not least, simply being there for each other is vital to any healthy relationship. Whether it’s being a shoulder to cry on, cheering the other person up, or reminding each other that you are proud of them, a healthy relationship is incomplete without standing by each other, supporting each other through thick and thin, and ultimately helping each other to be the happiest versions of yourselves that you could possibly be.
As I previously mentioned, relationships are deeply personal and hold an immense amount of subjectivity. At the end of the day, though, your relationship should be bringing you pure joy and happiness, not stress. Finding love is truly a gift, and something I feel so lucky to have been able to experience every day for the past several years, but it’s also something that also cannot be rushed. Love lives are meant to be messy sometimes, and it’s completely normal to go through plenty of complicated and heart-wrenching relationships before you find one worth holding on to. Don’t rush the process, though. After all, sometimes you’ve got to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince or princess.