Over my years as a human behavior expert with a Ph.D. in psychology and doctorate of education, I have been approached for relationship advice by many wonderful individuals and couples who were in many different stages of their relationships. While each partnership is as unique as the people involved, I’ve learned that there are three basic components that every healthy relationship must have.

1. Love
This first pillar includes love not only for your mate but also for yourself. Before you can enter into a healthy relationship, you must first know yourself, acknowledge and recognize your patterns and consciously override the impulse to connect with someone who sets off red flags. For example, you may be attracted to the bad boy, but a healthy person, deliberately chooses not to go there. When you are moving from a place of wholeness rather than need, you create a space in which you are then capable of loving another.

2. Communication
Of course, communication is essential and can only occur successfully in an environment of openness and empathy. A good dialogue allows you and your partner time to express your feelings and emotions. It is important to listen carefully, asking questions and letting your mate know that you are interested in him, his thoughts and his feelings. Healthy partnerships are open and honest. You must handle problems immediately rather than tabling them for another time, another day. However, it is best to set aside a time to resolve conflicts, when you and your mate are both well-fed and rested. Follow my Empathic Process with your partner as the foundation and guide for open communication.

You also need to have space for healthy disagreement. The important thing is to remember that this is the person you value and cherish — and you approach communication from that place of love, of wanting the best for your partner. I like to suggest writing a love letter. Start from your place of love, present your concerns and end with love. You can even have your partner read this love letter while you are holding his hand or touching his arm, providing support and affection while you each share your concerns openly and honestly.

3. Balance
A healthy relationship is one that includes balance. Although it is important to have alone time with one another, it is also important to incorporate your own friends, family, work and hobbies into your life. If you have a balanced and inclusive life, you can open yourself to other creative possibilities for both you and your partner together and individually. Then neither of you will feel that you have sacrificed or given up anything for the other, but rather that your relationship is large enough to contain both of you and your interests.

All relationships evolve and change. Therefore, it is important to grow with one another and to be aware of each other’s changes. Transitions are the markers that define us, whether it is a new relationship or the loss of an old one; a life’s passage or a career change; a birth or death. To navigate these transitions together, successfully, is to be sensitive and open to each other’s feelings.

In the final analysis, a healthy relationship is one that is accepting of each other’s differences, as well as similarities, and allows the transcendence of something new to develop, that is uniquely yours — together.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.