Two people lying in the grass together

What Makes a Healthy Relationship?

A healthy relationship leaves you feeling secure, comfortable to be yourself, and respected. A “not so healthy” relationship may cause you to feel insecure and anxious or detached. Relationships are never perfect, but there are some key components that help make a relationship healthy, as opposed to unhealthy.

#1. Communication. No surprises here – communication is a major key to a successful healthy relationship. Communication means both people in the relationship openly share who they are and what they need from the other person. Without communication, you are left guessing, or even worse, feeling alone and misunderstood. A lack of communication creates relationship insecurity and mistrust.

#2. Respect. Respect means to show regard for others feelings, wishes or rights. Respect includes being honest. An absence of respect in a relationship can affect self-esteem, security and safety. If respect is compromised, it can be difficult to communicate ones needs and wishes.

#3. Repair. It is normal and healthy to argue in relationships, but it is how you repair afterwards that really counts. For example, it is unhealthy in a relationship to withdraw after an argument. It is much healthier to ‘forgive and forget’. It also is healthy to apologise after an argument, and not leave the apologising up to the one person.

#4. Being positive. It is easy to get a bee in your bonnet in relationships. For example, you may feel irritated when your partner leaves dishes to wash, and find yourself focusing and stewing on it for hours. Then, if your partner forgets to take out the rubbish, you may get irritated again; only this time you start to think your partner is ‘lazy’. From here on, you notice all the “so called” lazy things about your partner. This creates a negative spiral, where you fail to notice your partners’ positive qualities. Therefore, it is important in relationships to guide your attention away from your partners’ negative characteristics and focus on your partners’ positives, as no one is perfect.

#5. Arguing, not fighting. Arguing is a back and forth disagreement, where each person listens and expresses their view. It is ok in a relationship to argue and not come to a resolution. Arguing in a relationship is healthy. Fighting on the other hand involves raised voices, name-calling and other combative forms of communication, like blaming and slamming doors. Fighting in a relationship is unhealthy.

#6. Affection. Research has shown humans thrive on affection. Conversely, humans suffer if deprived of affection- studies show if a baby or child is deprived of affection their development is more likely to be stunted and immune system comprised. Showing affection in a relationship needs to be consistent. If you neglect affection it tends to be more effortful and less enjoyable.

#7. Fun. It’s easy to forget to have fun, especially in a long-term relationship or when our lives are busy. However, it is important in a relationship to laugh, be playful and enjoy things together.

#8. Independence. It is important in a relationship to spend time apart as much as it is important to spend time together. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the comfort of your relationship, but overtime this can affect your relationship quality. A healthy relationship is fuelled by some independence, which includes spending time with friends and enjoying interests.

So here you have it, the key components to a healthy relationship. Of course, there are lots of other qualities that add to relationship satisfaction – for example, paying your partner compliments and being encouraging. Working towards a secure relationship is also very important – perhaps read blog post How to Make My Relationship More Secure if you need help in this area.

Of course, sometimes you cannot tick all of the boxes. For example, if you are experiencing something stressful in your life, it can be challenging to have fun. And sometimes you and your partner will just ‘slip up’. However, if you are achieving the above relationship attributes overall, then your relationship is most probably a healthy relationship.

How can Peaceful Mind Psychology help?

We are warm and empathic psychologists based in Melbourne, who are experienced and trained in helping individuals improve their relationship through relationship counselling. If you would like some professional assistance contact us at Peaceful Mind Psychology.