Relationships are an important part of a healthy life. Research has consistently shown that social connections are critical for both mental and physical health. People who have healthy relationships have better health outcomes, are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, and have a decreased risk of mortality.
For example, research has shown that people in secure romantic relationships have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Every relationship has a mix of both healthy and unhealthy characteristics. What makes a bond positive is that each person recognizes that these bonds take work and each person must strive to maintain the connection and remedy problems.
People often spend a lot of time talking about how to spot a bad relationship, but there is a lot less discussion about what exactly constitutes a healthy relationship. How can you know if your relationship is healthy and what can you do to make an okay relationship even better?
Every person’s needs are different. For example, some people have higher needs for openness and affection than others do. Below are 6 ways to know a healthy relationship;
Trust in your partner is a key component of any healthy relationship. Research suggests that your ability to trust others is influenced by your overall attachment style. Relationships experienced early in life help shape the expectations that you have for future relationships.
If your past relationships have been secure, stable, and trusting, you are more likely to trust future partners as well. If, however, your past relationships were unstable and undependable, you may have to work through some trust issues going forward.
Trust is also established by how partners treat one another. When you see that your partner treats you well, is dependable, and will be there when you need them, you are more likely to develop this trust.
Building trust requires mutual self-disclosure by sharing things about yourself. As time passes, opportunities to test and evaluate that trust emerge. As trust grows, the relationship becomes a great source of comfort and security. If you feel that you have to hide things from your partner, it may be because you lack this essential trust.
2. Openness and Honesty
You should be able to feel that you can be yourself in a healthy relationship. While all couples have varying levels of openness and self-disclosure, you should never feel like you have to hide aspects of yourself or change who you are. Being open and honest with each other not only helps you feel more connected as a couple, but it also helps foster trust.
Self-disclosure refers to what you are willing to share about yourself with another person. At the beginning of a relationship, you may hold back and exercise more caution about what you are willing to reveal. Over time, as the intimacy of a relationship increases, partners begin to reveal more of their thoughts, opinions, beliefs, interests, and memories to one another.
This doesn’t mean that you need to share every single thing with your partner. Each individual needs their own privacy and space. What matters most is whether each partner feels comfortable sharing their hopes, fears, and feelings if they so choose. Healthy couples don’t need to be together all the time or share everything.
Strong relationships are marked by natural reciprocity. It isn’t about keeping score or feeling that you owe the other person. You do things for one another because you genuinely want to. This doesn’t mean that the give-and-take in a relationship is always 100% equal.
At times, one partner may need more help and support. In other cases, one partner may simply prefer to take more of a caregiver role. Such imbalances are fine as long as each person is ok with the dynamic and both partners are getting the support that they need.
4. Show Appreciation
Couples who feel gratitude for one another feel closer to one another and tend to be more satisfied with their relationships. One study published in the journal Personal Relationships found that showing gratitude for a partner can be an important way to boost satisfaction in romantic relationships
5. A Word From Verywell
Even if your relationship seems healthy, it can be helpful at times to step back and look for improvements you can make together. Healthy relationships are marked by an ability to recognize problems, including your own, that might pose a threat to the long-term success of your relationship. By being willing to analyze your relationship, you can work together to build a more fulfilling partnership.
6. Keep Things Interesting
Keeping up with the daily grind of work and kids can sometimes cause couples to fall into the same old routine. Boredom can lead to greater dissatisfaction as a relationship goes on.
Researchers have found, for example, that couples who reported feeling bored in the seventh year of their relationship were more likely to experience marital dissatisfaction nine years later.