What are the characteristics of a “healthy” relationship?

Very often people tend to analyze their relationships , alone or with the help of a professional, psychologist-psychotherapist , when they realize that things are not going well , looking for the problem and, above all, for the way in which face it, solve it and / or overcome it .

And they wonder how to manage relationships that are going or have gone wrong. In this article, however, I do not want to talk about this, about how to recognize and / or deal with “toxic” relationships , but, on the contrary, I want to focus attention on what characteristics distinguish a “healthy” relationshipIn fact, while it is important to recognize when a relationship is going wrong, it is equally important to learn to identify when a relationship is going well.

Many people do not know what to answer to this question, unable to identify which positive aspects to look for in a relationship . If someone grew up watching their parents or other family members recite chronically “toxic” patterns , then that person may very well come to define such patterns as “normal” and have difficulty identifying those foundational aspects of a good relationship .

12 aspects that characterize a “healthy” relationship

Healthy and functional relationships have the following characteristics. They shouldn’t be optional. And when they are missing, it is important to address the problem.

1. Trust

In a relationship, trust is probably among the most important characteristics. Without trust , there is a lack of a solid foundation on which to build emotional intimacy. Without trust , your relationship is dominated by uncertainty : you will constantly feel uncertain whether you can rely on your partner . And that can wear you and your relationship down .

2. Communication

Good communication with your partner is the lifeblood that nourishes a healthy and functional relationship, but communicating honestly and respectfully , especially about things that put us in trouble , is something that doesn’t come automatically to everyone. We may have learned to keep uncomfortable things under the surface for the sake of harmony or appearance or perfection, or we may never have learned to recognize those feelings that put us in trouble . At other times, however, we may have a tendency to take things personally and lash out at our partner when we feel threatened. In both cases, which are quite frequent, the important thing isrecognize these dynamics and start working on them .

3. Patience

No one can be perfectly patient at all times and factors such as lack of sleep, stress and / or physical or other health problems can make us more easily irritable. We are human beings. But patience is certainly the common denominator that characterizes a healthy and functional relationship and that makes the partners give each other support when one of the two is having a bad day or is not at their best. Instead, when partners are chronically impatient with each other, they often create a dynamic of counting the mistakes made by one or the other, a dynamic of competition and resentment., in which mentally accumulate the “offenses” or “mistakes” that the other partner has committed. Being able to adapt to the ebb and flow of a partner’s moods in everyday life – within reasonable limits – can instead allow for the feeling of being loved unconditionally .

4. Empathy

Being willing to take another person’s perspective is useful in so many different cases and disputes: it helps if you are a parent, if you have neighbors, and even when someone slumps in front of you on the highway. Certainly, however, it is important to be empathetic with the person you have chosen as your partner. So ask yourself:

– can you really put in the effort to try to understand his perspective, even when you disagree?

– does his pain make you try to help him feel better?

– are you happy with his triumphs?

I don’t know what you answered, but remember: empathy is crucial for long-term love .

5. Affection and interest

Taking it for granted that love should be the founding feature of a “healthy” relationship , it is important to emphasize that so too is the expression of that love in the form of affection and genuine interest in the partner ( mutual sympathy ). Small physical gestures of affection, such as hugs, kisses, and a comforting touch, can go a long way in making every person feel comforted and secure in their relationship . There is no “right” amount of physical affection within a relationship , as long as both partners feel comfortable. The same goes for physical intimacy.

6. Flexibility

Surely you’ve heard it before: relationships are compromised . And the key component of making a good compromise is flexibility . It is important, however, that both partners show flexibility , because if it is just a partner who is always “flexing”, this imbalance can become toxic over time. In “healthy” relationships , both partners are willing to adapt, if necessary, to the changes and growth – positive and negative – that can occur during a long-lasting relationship . Two partners who are never willing to “bend over” to meet each other are unlikely to be able to truly share a life together.

7. Appreciation

Research shows that feeling appreciated by your partner makes you happier and more confident in the relationship. Even small expressions of gratitude and appreciation can help improve the feeling of satisfaction in your relationship . So the next time you think it doesn’t matter if you say “thank you” for something your partner did, think again.

8. Room for growth

Relationships become stale not only because a certain amount of time has passed , but because people feel stuck and unable to progress , both as individuals and as a couple. It’s unrealistic – and downright unhealthy – to expect two people to stay exactly the same for months, years, and decades in a relationship . Hopes, fears, goals and interests are constantly evolving , and this is a very good thing. A relationship does not have to end or even suffer from this, and this happens if both people allow each other the space to grow , trying to care about what is important to each other.

9. Respect

Respect is key in a relationship . In “healthy” relationships , people talk to each other in a way that doesn’t debilitate, invalidate or belittle the other. They accept that the other may have another opinion from their own, even if they do not share it. They mutually protect their privacy and don’t use each other. When respect begins to erode within a relationship , rebuilding it is a long and uphill path: damage is much easier to do than to repair.

10. Reciprocity

In “healthy” relationships , generally, both partners help each other when needed. In an ideal situation, the “give-and-take” should be roughly equal for the partners, and therefore neither should feel resentful. In reality, however, in relationships, “giving-and-receiving” is never equal (take, for example, the case of a partner who needs long-term medical care or struggles with a psychological disorder). And that’s okay, as long as both partners feel comfortable overall in this “exchange” , and that each of them finds a way to give something to the relationship and their partner, especially in the form of emotional support.when they can.

11. Individuality and boundaries

Two people exactly alike probably wouldn’t have much to talk about after a while; after all, they would already know what the other person’s perspective would be, so why bother listening to it? On the other hand, two people so different that they do not share each other’s values ​​or everyday lifestyles would have too little in common to maintain a mutual interest (at best) or they could be absolutely incompatible, not appreciating any aspect of the other. right from the start (at worst). So the ideal is a relationship where similarities create a basis for connecting with each other, but individual differencesthey are still respected and appreciated, and it is important that each partner has the freedom to live their own life, especially in terms of friendships, professional goals and hobbies. A strong, “healthy” relationship brings to mind a Venn diagram: there is adequate overlap to keep the connection strong , but each person has aspects of their life of their own and the boundary is respected by both sides.

12. Honesty and Confidence

Different partners have different levels of confidence within their relationships – some may be horrified to leave the bathroom door open, for example, while others would have no problem talking about the more intimate physical details, without thinking twice. The same goes for hopes, dreams, and even the details of the working day. But no matter where you place yourself on the spectrum from lower to higher confidence , the important thing is that there is a solid bond with your partner and that honestyis the basis of everything. Partners who mask their true selves, who hide their emotional realities or actively deceive their partners about their habits and behaviors, are undermining the foundation of the trust that every relationship needs.