Humans are highly social. People who have healthy relationships and friendships have a better chance of leading happy and healthy lives. Research has shown that good social connections can improve both your body and mind.
Individuals in a healthy and strong relationship typically have lower levels of depression and anxiety. Such relationships also boost self-esteem and confidence. Physical benefits can include a stronger immune system, better healing, and even a longer life.
A romantic relationship can spark in an instant – people seem to fall in love all the time. However, staying in love is much more difficult – it takes work to keep romantic partnerships stable and beneficial. To understand how to nurture a healthy relationship, we first need to understand what it is:
Hallmarks of a Healthy Relationship
There is no single definition of what a healthy relationship looks like – it can vary widely depending on your personality, age, life situation, and many other factors. But in general, all healthy relationships have the following hallmarks:
Couples who feel comfortable expressing their opinions about many issues – both personal, general, and political – have a better chance of staying together. Open communication about critical matters like money, mental health, stress, and the things a person values is essential.
In most stable relationships, partners talk frankly and frequently about things that happen in their daily lives. Ideally, you want the conversation to include the good and bad things. For instance, if there is any stress at work, you should be able to talk about it to your partner. Just speaking with your partner may help you manage stress and while bringing you and your partner closer.
Being in a relationship means you have to rely on the other person in many matters. It should not, however, be at the cost of anyone’s independence. In healthy relationships, there is a balance between leaning on your partner and having the freedom to be yourself, making your own decisions.
Things turn toxic when one person is trying to manipulate or force their will on their partner. This is the opposite of a healthy relationship. Good relationships are built on mutual respect – not fear or deceit.
Lack of trust is a common cause of the disintegration of relationships between couples. Trust means that you don’t worry about your partner cheating on you when you are not around. It also means you can rely on them to give you support and a space to be yourself. Trust makes you feel safe, knowing that your partner will not hurt you, either emotionally or physically.
When we fall in love, we often tend to blindly trust the person we love. While it is easy to gain someone’s trust in this way, it is fragile – all it takes is one mistake to lose it. And regaining it can often take years of hard work and perseverance.
Couples in a healthy romantic relationship don’t have to spend every hour of the day together. Partners should spend time together on hobbies and shared interests, but people also need some alone time to do their own thing.
It is not an easy balance to maintain, especially when you have many other commitments that take up your time. As long as people make an effort to spend some quality time together (and alone for themselves), it can work out fine.
Physically connecting with your partner is an important part of a romantic relationship. But individuals often have different levels of interest in sex. Couples who are honest with each other about their demands and desires have a better chance at a satisfactory sex life.
The importance of consent is critical. No one should feel forced to perform any acts they are not comfortable with at any time. If only one person is gaining pleasure out of sexual activity, there is something fundamentally wrong. Talk to your physician or nurse practitioner if you are experiencing pain from intimacy.
All couples have arguments and fights. In fact, if a couple does not have any arguments or differences of opinion, it is often not a good sign. Couples who avoid conflict and not sharing their own opinions can be setting themselves up for a future problem – sooner or later, things will come to boiling point.
In a good relationship, couples manage to resolve things amicably through words, without letting things get physical or violent. They also don’t leave any lingering feelings of anger or resentment. This is the best sign of a healthy relationship.
Warning Signs of Unhealthy Relationships
A good relationship should help you stay strong and capable of facing any life challenges that come your way. It should not be an arrangement that benefits one partner more than the other. The following are some key characteristics of a toxic or abusive relationship:
- One partner is always trying to control the other or forcing changes on them.
- One partner does not show any respect for the other person’s boundaries.
- Couples don’t spend any quality time together doing things they both enjoy.
- One person says hurtful or insensitive things about their partner to others.
- One partner is afraid to communicate openly about their feelings.
- The relationship feels unequal or unfair.
7 Tips to Promote a Safe & Healthy Relationship
Keep Realistic Expectations
People often have a perfect image of what they expect their partner to be. While you should have standards of how you are treated, you should also recognize that no one is perfect. Keep your expectations grounded and let your partner know what you need from them in the early stages of your relationship.
Avoid Jumping to Conclusions
If something unusual or bad happens, don’t jump to conclusions and start assigning blame. Ask your partner to explain their side of the story and listen with an open mind. Expecting the worst can backfire spectacularly if you are wrong. It shows that you have very little trust in your partner.
Honor Promises and Commitments
Breaking your word is the fastest way to lose trust and respect. If you make a promise, make every effort to honor it. Complete your responsibilities and follow through on all plans to show your partner that you are dependable. And you should expect the same from the other person as well.
Consider Family Planning
Having kids together is a huge step – emotionally, physically, and financially. Ensure that both of you are on the same page about having children. An unplanned pregnancy can often unravel a relationship and derail financial stability. You can use family planning services to help you have more control over when and how you grow your family.
If you are not satisfied with your sex life, try talking to your partner about it honestly. Sleeping with others in secret will not solve problems. Promiscuity will not keep a monogamous relationship healthy. If you cannot commit to a relationship sexually, it is better to be open about it with your partner. Setting healthy boundaries is essential for keeping any relationship steady.
Seek Outside Advice
Romantic relationships can sometimes cloud our judgment. When you are uncertain about a new or prospective romantic partner, you may need some outside help in figuring things out. This could be a family member or close friend – anyone who you can trust to give good advice. If you feel overwhelmed and don’t have anyone to talk to, you can also consider going to a mental health professional.
Quit Abusive Relationships
There is no excuse for domestic violence or other kinds of abusive behavior in any relationship. If you experience any such traumatic events, get help as soon as possible. It is important to realize that an unhealthy relationship is sometimes beyond repair. In such situations, focus entirely on your safety and make objective choices.
Seek Professional Help from VNA Health Care
A trusted name in high-quality, affordable health care, VNA Health Care serves underserved communities in the Chicago suburban area. We have several couple-oriented services, including mental behavioral health specialists, family planning, counseling for birth control, and prevention of STI through tests/treatment. You can also talk in confidence to your provider about any issues that you are experiencing. Book an appointment with our specialists online or call (630) 892-4355.