Everyone wants a healthy relationship, but it can be difficult to figure out if you’re actually in one and if so, what evidence confirms it. Here are a few basic components of a strong relationship to give you some objectivity when you’re unsure of your own situation.
You spend time together doing nothing in particular.
Knowing how to be together without being busy is key to a good relationship. Going out and having a good time is the easy part, but if you can exist in the same space with each other and decompress after a long day or spend a weekend at home without plans, you can be secure in the knowledge that you know each other and are companionable.
You support each other’s ambitions.
You and your partner don’t have to want exactly the same things. You don’t even have to plan to be together forever. However, you do need to care about each other’s futures and want the very best for one another. If you’re in a healthy relationship, both of you will want to help the other achieve their goals regardless of whether you think the relationship will last two weeks or two decades.
Arguing is healthy. It means you care and it means you’re not afraid of expressing yourselves. Couples who argue occasionally tend to be better at communicating their issues and are even less likely to divorce than couples who don’t. You can’t agree with each other all the time, and it’s far better to have a good, heated argument than to freeze each other out with passive aggression until one of you snaps.
You know how to fight productively.
How you fight is just as important as whether or not you fight. If you’re throwing hard objects across the room at each other, clearly arguing isn’t an indication of a strong relationship. The best kind of arguments are the ones that lead to calm, thorough conversations that get to the heart of the matter. Screaming yourselves hoarse and then sleeping in separate rooms should cause some serious self-evaluation about whether or not you should be together in the first place.
You give each other space.
Everyone needs time apart from their loved ones, and it’s actually the sign of a strong relationship if you can do this without feeling anxious. If you have a hard time giving your partner space or if they struggle to give you yours, you need to have a conversation about it. While it may be passed off as a sign of your deep love for each other, not being able to give each other space is often an indicator of underlying issues.
You know each other’s friends.
One of the landmark moments in any relationship is when you introduce your new significant other to your friends. You don’t have to all be best friends. In fact, it’s healthy for you each to have your own social worlds. But if you’ve been dating someone for awhile and they haven’t introduced you to their friends, something isn’t right.
You feel like a team.
The whole point of having a partner is to have someone with whom you can meet the world. Whether the world is harsh or kind, you shouldn’t feel alone in taking it on or like you’re fighting your battles and experiencing your joys all by yourself. You don’t need to do everything together to feel like a team, you just need to know that you’re in it together.
You’re not always thinking about the alternative.
The goal is always to live in the moment, but even living in the past and the future is better than living in regret and hypotheticals. In any healthy relationship, you should feel dedicated to the path you’ve chosen. If you find yourself constantly wondering what could’ve been if you’d stayed with that one ex or approached that guy at a bar that one time in college, it might be a sign that you aren’t fully committed to the relationship you’re in and should consider a change.
You trust each other.
Trust is the first step to any healthy relationship. Without it, there is no foundation to build on. You can’t get to know someone when you don’t trust them, and you certainly can’t relax enough to be yourself and let them see who you really are. Trust allows you to settle in and grow with someone without the fear that it might all come crashing down at a moment’s notice. Once it’s established, all the bumps in the road can be dealt with because you’ll feel safe communicating truthfully with each other.
You’re OK disagreeing on some big picture things.
No matter how divided our politics are these days, you and your significant other don’t need to vote for the same people. You don’t need to share the same religion or economic background either. In fact, being from different worlds and having different belief systems can make your relationship stronger. If you manage to love each other and find the relationship to be mutually supportive and fulfilling even without big, overarching commonalities, you’re probably in the relationship because of each other and not because of superficial similarities.
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