Every relationship is different, but there are some essential qualities the strongest couples all have in common. While there’s no single secret to making a relationship work, these 12 values might have something to do with it! If you and your partner share these traits, that’s a good thing — things are way more likely to last long-term.
It goes without saying that trust is one of the most important qualities in a healthy relationship. Trusting your partner means knowing that they’ll keep their promises. Knowing that they’ll stay loyal to you and be there for you when you need them. When you don’t trust your partner, especially after they’ve proven themselves as trustworthy, it can cause a lot of resentment. Constant snooping and accusations also lead to tension and hostility.
What they say is true: the best couples really are best friends. A physical connection is important, but beneath that attraction, do you actually like your partner? Would you hang out with them even if they weren’t your partner? Do you rate them as a person? Friendship often helps two people to build emotional and physical intimacy, which helps them to feel safer with one another.
Being able to communicate is another essential quality in a healthy relationship. Couples who can’t communicate often expect each other to read their minds, which just leads to confusion, misunderstandings, and unnecessary problems. Good communication means talking things out even when it’s uncomfortable to do so. It’s about communicating problems as well as needs, wants, and thank-yous.
Compromise is one of the less-fun parts of relationship life. But if you’re going to share a life with someone, it’s pretty important. Compromise is basically where you both make adjustments to your behavior and choices to reach an agreement with one another. As in, you miss out on seeing your family at Christmas so you can see his, but then you spend summer with your family and he misses out then. The compromise should also be equal and should happen because each of you is willing to make adjustments—not because you’re coerced.
Physical connection is often what separates a relationship from a friendship. This may fade over time, which is why the other qualities of a healthy relationship are so important. Different people need different amounts of physical touch to feel satisfied. Research has found that most people require intimate touch in a close relationship, and those couples who touch each other more feel happier overall.
Nobody is perfect, which is why a healthy relationship needs tolerance. Basically, this is where you understand that your partner isn’t perfect and you don’t hold it against them. You forgive their mistakes and accept their flaws. That’s not to say that you put up with poor treatment. A good example of tolerance is accepting that your partner might miss being your date at social events every now and then because she’s working on her PhD. It’s not pretending to be okay with infidelity or domestic abuse.
Safety is paramount in a healthy relationship. It doesn’t matter how attracted you are to someone or how much they make you laugh. If you don’t feel safe with them, it’s a deal-breaker. That goes for emotional safety as well as physical safety. In a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t be living in fear that your partner is going to yell at you when you make mistakes, or feel stressed because they gaslight you.
Part of trust and communication is honesty. The strongest couples are honest with each other, even when it’s not easy. They open up about how they really feel and tell each other the truth. It’s often less daunting to tell your partner what they want to hear, but you don’t resolve issues by sweeping them under the rug. In a healthy relationship, two people can count on one another to tell the truth, as uncomfortable as it may be.
Vulnerability is an often overlooked quality that can lead to a long-lasting connection with your partner. Being vulnerable means having the courage to be open with your partner and let them see the real you, which can be scary. In turn, this can build trust and help you to fully open your heart to giving and receiving love. Many people try to be the perfect partner, but it’s actually vulnerability that leads to a deeper bond with your partner.
Empathy and compassion
Empathy is about understanding your partner, even if you’re not experiencing what they are. Putting yourself in their shoes will lead to more tolerance, which will help them to feel loved and accepted. Compassion is kindness, which also helps with tolerance. When you actively choose to be kind in your relationship, you’re more likely to make your partner feel safe with you. Kindness can also lead to more vulnerability and a deeper connection.
The best couples respect each other. This is another non-negotiable. Put simply, respect involves listening to each other, even when you don’t agree. It’s about not crossing the boundaries that your partner sets for their own safety and wellbeing. And most importantly, it means recognizing that your partner’s opinions and needs are valid. Respect in a relationship leads to feelings of trust and safety, which again are super important.
Finally, the strongest couples have each other’s backs. They are each other’s top cheerleaders. In this day and age, that means supporting each other in the real world and online. Liking each other’s posts. Defending each other from others. Attending work functions and business openings and book signings and anything else that’s important. Supporting each other means that they are always in each other’s corner, no matter what.
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