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What is a Healthy Relationship? (Pt. I)

This blog post was written by Recovery Help Now’s, Vanessa Blaxland, MFTi.

We all want to be in a healthy relationship.  One that makes us happy and left feeling secure.  I’ve never heard someone say they want a bad relationship, but I have heard “I feel like I always get stuck in bad relationships”.  Is this you?  Do you feel like you fall into an unhealthy relationship after another?  Sometimes when growing up people don’t learn: 1) what a healthy relationship looks like and 2) how to have a healthy relationship.   The good news is that you can always learn how to have healthier relationships and what are the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

So lets start off with what does a healthy relationship even look like in the first place?  Here are 5 characteristics of a healthy relationship that can help you identify what to look out for either in a current or future relationship.  Then stay tuned for Part II where we will discuss how to make these things happen in your relationship!

1. Good Communication: Being able to express our thoughts and feelings, ask for what we need and want, and compromise in a healthy and effective way is a crucial part of a relationship.  Good communication involves finding ways to speak to your partner that will reflect your subjective experience, take away any blame, and prevent activating your partner’s defenses.

2. Trust:  Healthy relationships are trustworthy.  Building trust in a relationships means being honest, dependable, and responsible.  It also means showing trust where it is deserved.

3. Individuality:  Even though you are now a “We”, you can’t forget the “Me”.  Do you ever feel like you are losing yourself in a relationship?  Like the lines between who you are and who your partner is are blurred?  Though you are in a relationship and much of what you do may revolve around that relationship, it is important to maintain your individual life that you had before the relationship (ex. Family, friends, hobbies, likes, dislikes etc.).   You and your partner may have tons in common but you still are not the same person.  A healthy relationship expects, respects, and allows for differences and individuality.

4. Equality:  What is a fair or equal relationship?  Well, that may mean that the focus of the relationship is not only on one partner’s needs or one partner’s life.  There has to be some give and take.   This doesn’t mean that you are keeping a scorecard or anything like that, but when you think about your relationship do you take turns making the decisions? Do you guys hang out with both partner’s friends and family? Does each partner get a chance to participate in activities they enjoy?

5. Support: Being supported in the good times and the bad times are signs of a healthy relationship.  Being able to express your feelings (both good and bad) and feel that you are being heard and that that what you say is important is a principal part of feeling supported in a healthy relationship. If you experience that your thoughts and feelings are often dismissed, ignored, or not even allowed, that is an unhealthy part of your relationship.

 

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