10 Things to Look for When Seeking Out a Healthy Relationship
Let’s talk relationships! Being romantically involved with another person can bring a lot of satisfaction and joy into your life. We desire relationships for a myriad of reasons that include psychological, emotional, and physical needs we all have.
Relationships are a part of what it means to be human, but how do we know when we’re in a healthy one or not? What should we look for during those early days as emotions unfold and later as the attachment grows stronger?
Healthy relationships don’t always look the same for everyone. For example, what you value in a partner in your twenties may not be the same qualities you expect in your forties; however, there are overall indicators that can help us decide if we’re moving in the right direction.
It helps to look at why we crave attachment and how that plays a role in seeking a relationship. There are also several signs, signals, and characteristics that show hope for a healthy relationship.
Why We Want Relationships
Humans are a social species, and we all need a certain level of contact with others for our psychological and emotional well-being.
Our brains are actually wired to accept and react to human interactions and affection. Interestingly, it began with primitive man. It is believed that initially, humans only had sympathetic nervous system responses, known as fight or flight, and parasympathetic nervous system responses when someone freezes in response to a threat. Every stranger was a threat to the primitive nervous system, but this became a problem as humans realized the benefit of associating with others.
Our nervous systems realized there needed to be a way to feel comfortable in the presence of others.
Fast forward to our modern human brains. As we’ve evolved, our brainstems have become more complex and actually produce a response when we hear a soothing voice or receive a calm, friendly gesture. It has created the emotional ability for us to feel safe with and connected to another individual.
This emotional ability has created an innate and compelling desire for us to have close relationships with others.
We’ve also begun to derive a sense of self-worth and increased confidence based on our relationships. They make us feel important, and we relish the idea that we’re good enough for another person.
Although we’ve adapted to see the benefit of connecting with others, we still have the potential to make the wrong decisions when it comes to relationships.
What Makes Us Stay in Unhealthy Relationships
Well, if you consider those factors that make us crave connection, staying in an unhealthy relationship is the result of some related reasons.
Of course, there’s the inherent need to have human interaction, but losing a relationship can bring about feelings of worthlessness and failure. If being in one makes us feel “good enough,” then not having one can make us feel inadequate.
Fear is a major motivator as well. We fear being alone forever, fear judgment from others, and fear of the lack of security we feel in a relationship. It just feels scary sometimes to be alone.
By staying cognizant of what a healthy relationship looks and feels like, you can try your best to steer clear of those situations that eventually make us unhappy and unhealthy.
What to Look For
There’s a lot of talk about red flags, but what about green flags? What about those traits that make you feel like you should move forward? You can know if the relationship is right for you.
The light is green; let’s go!
Trust is the Foundation
Trust can mean a lot of things in a relationship. It can be why you feel confident in your partner’s feelings for you; you can trust that they’ll remain faithful.
It also gives us a sense that we can rely on that other person. Trust means they’ll follow through with commitments, maintain honesty, and be a steadfast presence.
Communication is Clear
Healthy communication includes talking about what’s going right and maybe wrong in the relationship. It also includes sharing personal thoughts and feelings that may make us feel vulnerable. Conversations can be hard when there’s raw emotion attached, and you want your partner to be able to handle those moments.
It’s also just about chatting about your day or what’s going on in your life. Not all conversations have to be heavy in order to show good communication; sharing day-to-day occurrences can be an important part of connecting.
You Feel Comfortable
In a healthy relationship, people feel good when they’re around their partner. You want to be relaxed and feel like this person is a source of peace in your life.
It’s also telling when you feel like your partner can be a part of every aspect of your life. You’re comfortable with them knowing and experiencing everything about you.
There’s Mutual Respect
Honoring someone’s needs and recognizing that a partner is a person with feelings and opinions must happen for a relationship to be healthy.
Sometimes respect comes down to values. Those things that make up our moral foundation influence potential negativity in a relationship.
Are you able to respect that person’s difference in political views? Can you accept their religious beliefs? Do you agree with their ideas on the role of family or their parenting philosophy? Healthy couples find common ground and respect each other’s values.
You Can Be an Individual
There’s an essential balance in a healthy relationship of relying on each other for mutual support and maintaining your identity and independence.
A healthy relationship means it’s possible to still have your own hobbies and interests. Although you definitely should enjoy activities together, it should not infringe on those things that you enjoy that might not be your partner’s cup of tea.
Letting go of yourself to conform to unhealthy expectations in a relationship can lead to resentment and ultimately unhappiness.
Your Goals and Decisions are Supported
We need a support system in our lives to help us reach our goals and realize our dreams; your significant other should be a big part of that!
They should play the role of encourager and be your best advisor and biggest cheerleader. A healthy relationship will never stand in the way of the aspirations of those involved.
Your Physical Needs Are Met
Physical affection amplifies the positive feelings we have about another person; it’s a big part of the attraction! Physical contact works much the same way in a relationship as does emotional and psychological stimulation.
It doesn’t even have to be about sex. There are a lot of healthy relationships between individuals who have chosen to abstain from sex, but if you do enjoy it, you and your partner need to be on the same page about it.
Whatever physical intimacy means to you, make sure the relationship is delivering.
You Can Work it Out
Conflict will happen. All couples have arguments or disagreements, it happens in most personal and even professional relationships, but positive conflict resolution strategies can mean staying together after a tiff.
Quick conflict resolution tips for healthy couples:
- Be direct and honest about potential problems
- Don’t pass blame
- Refrain from bringing up the past
- Be open-minded
It matters that you can talk about your differences honestly and in a rational, respectful way.
You Have Feelings of Fondness
These feelings go beyond just the initial passion of an infatuation. You should grow to feel yourself genuinely caring and admiring your partner, and that feeling should make you feel safe, comfortable, and grateful.
Do you really like the person they are?
This one’s simple. You simply have a good time when you’re with that person. Do you enjoy activities you’ve always done even more when you’re with them? A healthy relationship makes everything more fun, whether it’s an exciting night out or merely running errands.
You should enjoy each other’s company and be genuinely happy in that person’s presence. Spontaneity, laughter, and excitement are positives. Look for having fun and enjoying life together!
Red Moon Respects Relationships
We are all about empowerment at Red Moon, and we believe knowing the hallmarks of a healthy relationship is a powerful way to advocate for yourself and reach the relationship potential you deserve.
Remember, there’s no need to sell yourself short by staying in an unhealthy relationship, and there are tell-tale signs that you’re good to go!
Cherie Marquez is the co-founder of Red Moon, where she brings her talents as an entrepreneur, storyteller, and holistic health enthusiast. Cherie is also the founder of Take One Daily Media, a marketing, advertising, and design agency dedicated to using media in creative and progressive ways. For twenty years, Cherie has used marketing and design strategy to impact social change. You can connect with her on Linkedin.