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Qualities to Nurture in a Relationship

Who we surround ourselves with and how they interact with us impacts all facets of our lives. Our mental health, our physical health, our ability to succeed at school, work, etc. are all impacted, and in part, formed, by others. That’s why it’s important to make sure that the relationships we pick to have in our lives are healthy for us and help us to, either actively or passively, become our best self.

So, when you identify a positive quality in a relationship, it’s important to nurture that quality and that relationship. For example, if communication is a strength of your relationship, work to uphold open communication even when it’s about difficult topics. If support is a strength, be aware of when you want to support your significant other, when they need space, and vice versa. 

While each relationship is unique, here are a few qualities to look for and nurture. It’s important to also note that healthy relationships exhibit multiples of these qualities. Positive qualities are not limited to healthy relationships. An unhealthy relationship can still be supportive while being toxic, communicative while being abusive, happy while being unhealthy, and more. When in doubt, go with your gut. If something is telling you your relationship isn’t right, even if it feels like its exhibiting healthy qualities, do not be afraid to end it.

You Have Parallel Independence

In a relationship, you want to be able to grow together as a couple as well as independently as individuals. Growth isn’t dependent upon the relationship and instead you work to nurture each other’s growth. You enjoy each other’s company and help each other become the best version of yourselves. You don’t have to go to everything together and do everything together. You may be two halves of one whole, but you’re also both your own independent whole self who isn’t reliant upon the relationship in order to just be.

Your Power Dynamics are Balanced

Power in a relationship should be shared roughly equally. Neither person should have more power than the other. (I want to emphasize, and I’ll cover this further in another quality, power does not mean responsibility. While responsibilities should orbit around being balanced, they’ll shift as needed around what each of you is dealing with.) A balance in power dynamics ensures that neither party holds too much sway. If one side has significantly more power than the other, their requests can, intentionally or unintentionally, feel like they carry more weight. Keeping the power dynamics equal helps ensure you both have equal weight.

You Mutually Trust Each Other

You don’t have to wonder or worry about your significant other and what their actions may be.  You aren’t checking their phone when they leave it open or wondering what they might be up to when they go drinking with their friends. You trust that they will remain loyal and truthful to you and you maintain those ideals for them as well. If you’re doing shady stuff behind their back, you won’t be able to be fully present for the relationship; you’ll begin to doubt their truthfulness, and, frankly, no one deserves that behavior.

You Aren’t Afraid to Communicate

Communication is key in any successful relationship: romantic, platonic, or familial. If you aren’t talking, you can’t work through even the little issues and misunderstandings that will inevitably come up. By keeping communication open, you ensure you’re able to talk through any issues before they become large scale problems. Also, most long-term relationships (of any kind) are built on being able to talk to the other person. Because humans are pack-oriented, we inherently desire communication with other entities. So, when in doubt, talk it out.  

You Support Each Other on Good Days and Bad

You’re there for them for their wins, but you’re also there when they fail. It’s easy to support someone when they do well. But is your significant other there to help you pick up the pieces when you fall apart? Everyone expresses sadness and frustration differently. Find someone who takes the time to learn how to be there for you properly (and do the same for them).

You Don’t Hold Grudges

Grudges are a death sentence to any relationship. Even in a successful relationship, there will be disagreements and tiffs. Those don’t necessarily define the relationship. How you deal with them going forward, however, will. If you have a large issue that you can’t let go of and it feels like a make or break for the relationship, that’s one thing, and you may want to consider whether it makes sense to continue forward with your relationship. Holding onto small things, though, can have a negative impact on the long-term health of the relationship. Once you’ve worked through an issue, it does not help to use it as fodder against your significant other.

There isn’t one right example of a perfect relationship, but there are steps you can take to help your relationship’s health and dynamics. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to talk things out with your significant other. And if you start noticing behavior that feels like red flags, listen to your gut. 

Kelly Sikkema