Relationships are a central part of our lives, and a significant source of happiness. They require a certain amount of work, but the rewards can be immense. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship, a platonic one, or some other kind of close association, it’s important to know what makes them healthy and how to keep them that way.
Humans are one of the most social creatures on the planet and place a high value on relationships. Often, that takes the form of love and affection, which can be a powerful force in our lives. However, it’s also important to be able to stand on your own two feet and not rely on another person for your sense of self. This is why many people seek out relationships, even if they have their own problems and struggles in life.
The term “relationship” is used to describe any sort of close association between individuals, including those that are casual, formal, committed, or open. It can also refer to a specific type of relationship, such as an intimate one or a parental one. While everyone may have their own understanding of what a relationship is, there are some general traits that can be recognized in healthy ones:
Respect for the individual. People in healthy relationships value who their partner is, and don’t try to change them or base their identity on the relationship. They are supportive of their partner’s friendships, personal interests, and career pursuits. They are able to discuss their differences without becoming defensive and are empathetic towards their partners when conflicts arise. They are able to avoid taking disagreements personally and communicate clearly, so there is no misunderstanding.
Natural reciprocity. In healthy relationships, each member of the pair does things for the other that they genuinely want to do, rather than because they feel obligated to or because they think they are “loving” their partner. This can include small gestures, like giving a hug or helping with chores around the house. It can also extend to more involved efforts, such as spending time together, sharing hobbies, or volunteering in the community. Neither partner keeps score or feels they need to reciprocate everything that the other does, and they are able to understand each other’s nonverbal cues when communication is not going well.
Balanced giving and receiving. The final trait that many consider to be an essential aspect of a healthy relationship is that each partner gives and receives equal amounts of affection, energy, love, and support. This is something that can vary based on the needs and preferences of each person, but it’s always a good idea to make an effort to understand your partner and their needs before judging them. It’s also a good idea to double check that you understand each other correctly, because miscommunication can be extremely frustrating and lead to hurt feelings or confusion.
The bottom line is that a relationship should be a positive influence in your life, and it’s worth the work to create a happy one. Just remember to stay true to yourself, be a good listener and communicator, and don’t expect perfection.