Sometimes, it’s easier to spot an unhealthy relationship than a healthy one. Many people find themselves in less than ideal situations, either because they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like or because they feel trapped once they realize it’s toxic.
If you and your partner are showing these signs of a healthy relationship, then congratulations. It sounds like you’re doing this relationship thing really well.
1 – You Set Boundaries
Boundaries are different from rules. Rules state, “you will not do XYZ,” whereas boundaries state, “I will not do XYZ.” For example, a healthy boundary to set could be, “I will not remain with someone who cheats on me.”
Setting boundaries is so important in a healthy relationship. It ensures that both parties feel safe with their partner. Boundaries can be non-verbal, physical, or verbal. If you and your partner are having conversations about your limits and sensitivities, you’re setting healthy boundaries.
2 – You Both Engage in Healthy Communication
How will your partner know what your boundaries are if you don’t tell them? How will they know if they’ve upset you if you don’t communicate that? Talking to your partner about these things is key, especially before they escalate. By communicating potential and ongoing problems before they hit a peak, couples can avoid conflict.
Of course, that communication needs to be healthy. While communicating a conflict to your partner, avoid attacking them, be honest with them, and make sure you're talking to them at the right time. Don’t throw a situation onto your partner while they’re already dealing with one – wait for them to be calm first. Physical location is important as well. Your night out at the bar is not the place to be talking about finances at home, for example.
3 – You Trust Each Other
Healthy couples trust that they’re being honest with each other. If you need to show text message receipts, for example, that’s a sign that your partner doesn’t trust you. Lack of trust leads to controlling behavior, since the untrusting partner works to “make sure” their partner stays honest. Trusting couples believe each other when they communicate where they are, what they’re doing, and how they feel.
Healthy relationships involve having friends outside of the romantic relationship. If your partner doesn’t trust you enough to let you have friends, this is a sign of abuse. Get out while you can!
4 – There Are No Double Standards
Is your partner allowed to do things in your relationship that you aren’t allowed to do? Unequal expectations can lead to feelings of resentment. This makes sense, because such double standards show a clear lack of respect for the other person.
Healthy couples are equal in that the expectations for behavior are the same across the board. What equality looks like differs from one couple to another. You and your partner may split bills evenly, or you may take turns paying bills. Either situation represents equality. Evaluate whether your relationship is equal to determine if it’s healthy!
5 – Your Arguments Don’t Go Public
Nothing is more cringe-worthy than seeing a couple argue with each other on social media. Couples who air their dirty laundry on Facebook for all to see aren’t communicating effectively. All this does is draws attention to their drama, and turns people against them or their partner.
Obviously, that’s not healthy. Healthy couples keep their drama off the Internet and resolve their issues in private. If your entire friends list and Twitter followers aren’t up to date on your drama, keep it that way and pat yourself on the back for keeping things between the two of you!
6 – You Honor Consent
If you say no, that means no! No exceptions. Healthy couples understand this. Consent is not only physical, but it’s certainly important in all physical relationships.
When is it okay to touch your partner, and where? These boundaries need to be discussed, and then they need to be honored. Remember, a person can rescind consent at any time, regardless of consent they gave before.
If this is a no-brainer for you, your relationship is safe and healthy.
7 – You’re Allowed to Have Friends
If your partner doesn’t allow you to see friends or make new friends, this is a sign of not only lack of trust, but a sign of control. It’s a gateway to abuse, and you want to stop it in its tracks immediately.
Healthy couples have lives outside of each other, and that includes friendships and social engagements. As long as you’re making ample time for your partner, it shouldn’t matter how often you see your friends!
8 – Your Friends Like Your Partner
As the Spice Girls famously said, “if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.”
Your friends from before you entered your relationship know you better than the partner you’ve just introduced them to. If your friends vibe with your partner, that’s awesome! You probably chose your friends based on compatible personalities. If they get along with your partner, that’s a good sign that he’s a keeper.
Third parties can also be great tools for uncovering unhealthy behaviors. If your friends have nothing negative to say about your partner, don’t let them go!
9 – They Support Your Goals
A supportive partner will stand by your side and cheer you on as you pursue your goals. They may encourage you to apply to school when you express an interest, or tell you they have faith in you landing that dream job.
A partner who tries to sway you from following your dreams isn’t automatically unhealthy, but it’s worth having a conversation about why they are unsupportive. Perhaps their lack of support is rooted in fear, not rooted in lack of respect. The difference is key!
10 – You Have Separate Identities
It’s always fun to share hobbies and interests with your partner, but do you retain some individuality? Healthy partners don’t need to enjoy all of the same things or share all of the same beliefs. That’s because they are two separate people, even if they’re married. It’s okay if your partner is obsessed with soccer, but you just can’t get into it. You’re still your own person.
Healthy relationships blossom into lifelong companionships, which is the end goal for most of us who pursue romantic relationships. If your relationship shows signs of healthiness, sit back, relax, and enjoy your companionship!
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