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What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

Continuing on the topic of relationships, I thought it would be great opportunity to review several journal articles and get the “expert opinions” on what healthy relationships look like. While many articles featured their own spin and interpretation of positive responses in relationships, many concepts remained the same. Let’s explore these traits!

 According to many marriage and family therapists, emotional responsibility is highly valued for a successful relationship. If someone is unable to take responsibility for their own feelings, pressure is placed on their partner to create personal happiness, wellness and security. The problem with making your partner responsible for your emotions is the likelihood you will experience disappointment. When your partner fails to meet your expectations emotionally, people feel “emotionally abandoned.” Take ownership and responsibility of your feelings and do not ignore your feelings. Another trait for healthy relationships involves empathy and compassion. Partners thrive in relationships when their counterpart show kindness and acceptance regarding personal thoughts and experiences. A simple gesture of compassion and empathy goes a long way to improve your loved one’s day.

Healthy relationships have connections. Both parties need to experience warmth and affection as well as humor and fun. Connecting with someone, especially intimately, can be life changing. Memories are created with connections and draw us closer to our loved ones. Be mindful – connections are both give and take – you have to show your partner warmth, affection and even humor in order to receive these feelings yourself. Essentials for the health and longevity of a relationship include trust and support. Your partner needs to know that they can count on you. Significant others should not be threatened by their partner’s success or happiness, it should be shared. Your support in good and bad situations create lasting impressions for your partner.

Difficult for some, partnerships should be enjoyed both together AND apart. Your well-being should not be dependent on one single person. (But do not confuse emotional dependency for emotional responsibility. Someone’s “need” and “want” can look very different.) It is important to explore your personal interests with support and encouragement from your partner. Another common theme is growth from conflicts. People make mistakes and how you learn from them will be visibly noticeable in your relationship. When you experience conflict with your significant other – which everyone does – do your best to listen first and try to understand your partner’s point of view. It’s not always about being right or having to win.

Last, but certainly not least, is chemistry. Partnerships need to have positive stimulation physically, emotionally and intellectually. While people place different values on these sparks or chemistry, the reality remains that couples need a certain amount of each. As you and your partner explore each other’s needs and desires, a deeper loving energy grows, fueling the flame in your relationship.

So what do we take from all this information? Healthy relationships are constantly moving in a forward motion. You have to adapt AND evolve often. When people get stuck on a single notion, gesture or comment, negative emotional responses tend to develop, leading to the end of a relationship. Healthy relationships are not easy, they take a lot of work and BOTH parties are needed for success. So challenge yourself this week and consider these traits of a healthy relationship. Are you engaging in a healthy relationship? Are there areas you can improve yourself? Remember, change starts with you.

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