It’s equally important to talk about the signs of a healthy relationship as it is to talk about the unhealthy ones.
What is a healthy relationship? While all relationships are different, there are a few key aspects of healthy relationships; they should be based on equality, respect and trust. In a healthy relationship, you should always feel safe and you should never have to fear your partner.
In a healthy relationship, you and your partner should view each other as equals. One partner should not see themselves as “better” or “higher” in the relationship. It’s also important that there should not be any large power imbalances, and if there are, these should be addressed head-on and the couple should work to ameliorate these power imbalances within the context of the relationship.
There must be respect for each other in your relationship. You and your partner should respect each other not only as partners, but as human beings and as unique individuals. This includes respecting each other’s personal dignity, wishes, and seeing value in each other.
Similar to equality, both partners in a healthy relationship direct the relationship as equals. Both of you should have say and input into the relationship and develop it together. No one person should be making all the decisions. Each partner has control in the relationship but is not controlling.
Communication is a key part of any relationship, but is especially important in intimate relationships. You and your partner should feel comfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings to each other. A couple in a healthy relationship may still have arguments, but they can either work these out through communication or agree to disagree in a constructive way.
Being able to trust your partner is key in a healthy relationship. Trust is established over the course of a relationship through showing consistency in words and actions. Trust in a relationship can be difficult, but it is extremely important.
6. Responsibility & Accountability
In a healthy relationship, each person should be responsible and accountable to the other person. This means taking responsibility and being accountable for their own actions and the consequences, and not placing the blame elsewhere. This can include owning up to and admitting mistakes. This does not mean that each partner needs to constantly check in or report to the other person.
A good, healthy relationship should make you feel supported! Your partner should be there for you in tough times and vice versa. Couples in healthy relationships can support each other in the good times by offering encouragement and enthusiasm. Your relationship should encourage each of you to grow – separately and together.
Honesty is super important in a healthy relationship! You can’t build a good foundation on lies.
While you and your partner obviously should enjoy spending time with each other, each of you should also lead independent lives. You should each spend time apart from each other and have friends. Maintaining your own friends and separate interests can be a form of having boundaries.
Additionally, with regard to physical involvement, you and your partner should be able to set boundaries with each other about what you’re both comfortable with and not comfortable with and these boundaries should be respected by all partners.
10. Non-threatening behavior
You should always feel safe in your relationship. You should never have to worry that your partner is going to intentionally harm you. Neither partner should try to maintain power and control over the other.
While there are many aspects to healthy relationships and many will vary from relationship to relationship, these are some key signs that you’re in a healthy relationship. Don’t have all of these signs in your relationship? That’s okay. No relationship is perfect and there are always things that you can work on; indeed some of these things take time to establish, such as good communication. However, you should always feel safe in a relationship and feel that you are equals with your partner and that you both respect each other.
This article was written in partnership with the Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women of Siena College for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of abuse, please check out these resources or call 1-800-799-7233 or chat online.