You probably know a couple who have been together for many years and appear to be happy as well. If you don’t, look to some famous celebrity couples, such as Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman who were together 50 years, Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan who have been together since 1988, and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith who met in 1990 and are still together. And these are celebrities! How do they do it? What signs of a healthy relationship did they display?
While we can’t know what goes on behind closed doors, we can give some insight into the signs of a healthy relationship. Happy couples tend to be playful with one another, think highly of each other, respect and trust each other, are close physically, and can communicate well.
Most people aspire to have that sort of relationship, but it’s more difficult than it seems. Reality is very different from the fantasy and perfection that appears online and on TV.
Besides knowing the signs of a healthy relationship, you need to know the actual steps involved to make these signs a reality. Here are some signs of a healthy relationship and how to make them real.
1. COMMUNICATING WELL
Communicating well is perhaps the most important of the signs of a healthy relationship. It encompasses the ability to talk about all sorts of topics: serious things, difficult things, and fun things. When you talk about serious issues, whether they are about what’s going on in the outside world to what’s going on in your world, you must listen to each other and discuss rather than letting the discussion become heated and turning into an argument. For example, if this serious discussion is about money, the talk could easily turn into a blaming session: “You’re spending too much money,” or “You’re not making enough money.” Those statements might be true, but happy couples don’t blame each other. They look at the situation, and work out a solution as a team, which is a sign of a healthy relationship.
Regarding difficult topics, such as sex, happy couples can and are willing to discuss any difficulties outside of when they’re having sex. And they do so without blaming the other. A healthy relationship sign includes being able to nicely tell your man, for example, that you love having sex with him, but that you would also love to try new things. Now he’s sure to be interested, and you both can have some fun with this conversation. This talk could have gone south, though, if you started by telling him you’re so bored having sex with him, for example. Follow our advice to talk about sex to make it go smoothly.
And remember that communication should not always be about heavy topics. If so, he’ll dread when you come over “to talk.” Make sure you have fun talks, and talk about lighthearted topics, too.
Two more cardinal rules of communicating well are to check in with each other daily and to keep no secrets from each other. A healthy relationship sign for couples includes being able to tell each other everything.
2. PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR ONE ANOTHER
Supporting your partner is a sign of a healthy relationship and involves a variety of things. There is giving physical support by hugging or taking your spouse’s hand when they need comfort. Support can also mean letting your partner know you have confidence in them and encouraging them in their endeavors. Support could mean giving advice or brainstorming answers to a problem, or it could mean taking on responsibilities to help your partner out.
Sometimes, you’d give support if you only knew that your partner needed it, and vice versa. So it’s important for the person who needs support to ask for it. Often times, people don’t ask and then are secretly angry when they don’t get the support they need. If you need support, ask for it and for the type of support you need. If you are asked for support, do your best to provide it if you wish to have a happy relationship.
3. SHARING RESPONSIBILITIES
Sharing responsibilities is a sign of a healthy relationship. If one person in a relationship feels as if they are doing all the work or a disproportionate share of the work, resentment will grow. So sharing household chores is a big factor in the success of a relationship. What works for many couples is sitting down to determine who will be responsible for what. Otherwise, there is liable to be constant bickering or nagging when things don’t get done or when one person is doing most or all the work.
Being able to take responsibility for certain duties around the house, and to do them consistently and without being asked is a sign of a healthy relationship. It also shows respect for each other and a willingness to be fair.
4. ALLOWING AND HELPING ONE ANOTHER TO GROW
One sign of a healthy relationship is if you both help each other to grow. In bad relationships, one person might be threatened by the other person growing and might try to keep them down or belittle them. This might even lead to emotional abuse. More on that here.
Here are some ways people help each other grow:
- Your partner is your best cheerleader. They have more confidence in your abilities than you do sometimes. And if you have a dream, they’ll listen and try to make it happen. And you would do the same for your partner.
- Your partner has many interests, and they want to share them with you. They are patient teaching you in the hopes that you can do this interest together.
- Your partner will encourage you to have good habits, whether this is regarding health, finances, or social activity. They would never put you down for your bad habits. They would instead encourage you to pick up good habits, too.
5. FEELING AND SHOWING SECURITY
When you’re in a healthy relationship, you feel secure, making this a sign of a healthy relationship. You trust your partner and have no reason to feel jealous. You, in turn, do nothing to break your partner’s trust. A key to being secure is acceptance. Both partners accept the other for who they are without judging and without criticism.
When partners don’t feel secure, they start to act in an angry or jealous way. You might give him the silent treatment for going out with his friends, for example, thinking he’s only trying to meet women. If you have those feelings, you’re not secure in the relationship.
6. SPENDING TIME ALONE
It’s important to be able to spend time apart from your man, so spending time apart is a sign of a healthy relationship. Neither of you should forsake friends and family because you never spend time apart. Although when you’re a couple, you share a life together, you still are individual people and need to have a life outside the relationship. Plus, it puts too much pressure on your partner to expect him to meet all your needs.
But everyone has different ideas of how much time to spend together and how much time to spend apart. If you like to have your alone time or have time with friends, and he prefers to spend most of the time with you, you have a possible conflict. This is something to talk about, so that you can both work out an arrangement that both of you can live with.
7. TRUSTING ONE ANOTHER
Trust is a sign of a healthy relationship. The easiest way for people to trust each other in a relationship is to not break the trust in the first place. When you commit to someone, and that commitment means you can’t have sexual relations with others, for example, then you need to honor that commitment if you want to have trust in the relationship. If you’ve broken trust, it might not be the end of the world. It’s possible to regain trust but only if you acknowledge what you did and are sincere about not betraying your partner again. If you can’t stick with that arrangement, maybe the relationship isn’t for you.
8. NOT RUSHING
Because being in a committed relationship consists of it lasting for the rest of your life, or at least for many years, you don’t want to rush into it. It’s natural to do this, though, especially if you’re the impulsive type or if you’re just sick of being single. But still, don’t rush. If you dive into a committed relationship before you really know whether he’s the one for you, you might be making a big mistake. And you might even invest a significant amount of time in the relationship, time that you’ll never get back.
Getting into a relationship because you fear that you’ll never find someone better or that you’ll lose this person if you don’t advance the relationship are not good reasons to commit. You have to want to be with this person. And you need to really know who this person is, and that usually only comes with time as you move through relationship stages. But when you do wait, it’s a sign of a healthy relationship.
No two relationships are the same. But these signs of a healthy relationship tend to be universal to all great relationships, and signs of an unhealthy relationship tend to be universal as well.