You are to build, thrive on, and enjoy healthy relationships as the social butterfly that you are. In fact, having either a healthy or a toxic relationship can affect your emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. This is why it is best you set your expectations and priorities right early-on to prevent heart-ache from an unmet or uncommunicated expectation. Whether you are starting out or you’ve been through difficult relationships, there are steps you can take to grow and enjoy a healthy one.

What Makes a Healthy Relationship?

A healthy relationship is one with balance. Healthiness in relationships is that state where your individual identities are intact as you both rely on each other for mutual support. You’ll know a good relationship when you find and experience it. While sharing the same ideals may not necessarily make a relationship healthy, your differences and similarities should be a foundation to connect with each other. The importance of evaluating your relationships cannot be over-emphasized. What value has it added to you? Is it helping both of you reach your respective goals? Here are 5 ways to cultivate and enjoy a healthy relationship.

1. Stay True to Yourself

Staying true to yourself begins with understanding and accepting yourself and your relationship needs. You need to love yourself for who you are and be confident in your abilities. Not coming into acceptance will make you feel insecure when you come in contact with someone with a contagious personality. While staying true to yourself, it is important that you are flexible with your expectations and don’t set unrealistic goals.

2. Talk About Everything

To avoid talking about a problem or sweeping it under the rug as if it’s in-existent can be disastrous. Little bits of undisclosed hurts will become bedrocks of incompatibilities. Talking about everything doesn’t mean you have to talk non-stop, it means you are open to solving every misunderstanding through effective communication. Expressing your individual views over a misunderstanding by communicating is one sure way to understanding yourselves better. It can also shed more light on what you can both do better.

3. Practice Empathy

Empathy means putting yourself in other people’s shoes. Empathy helps you understand the thoughts and emotions of your friend or significant other so you can respond better. Taking a moment to think over why your counterpart may be feeling like that given their situation and personality will keep you from jumping to conclusion. Being empathetic will also help you deal with each other’s stress patterns.

4. Set Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are important to grow and enjoy a healthy relationship. For so many, building boundaries where necessary can be challenging. According to psychologist and coach Dana Gionta, Ph.D. “setting healthy boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are.” If you find your friendship draining the living daylight out of you, then it is time to set healthy boundaries. The best way to achieve this is by tuning into your feelings, knowing what your limits are, and communicating them.

5. Express Gratitude Often

Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what you receive, whether tangible or not. According to Harvard health, giving thanks can make you happier.

Being grateful for your relationship and expressing your gratitude to your family, friends, and colleagues can be a game-changer. You can cultivate gratitude on a regular basis by writing a thank you note or saying thank you after a good act. Wood also affirms that gratitude is associated with better social relationships which lead to higher satisfaction. As you embrace gratitude you begin to see your relationship in a better light.

Although no relationship is perfect, partnership work best when the parties involved are willing to put in the needed effort. To cultivate and enjoy a healthy relationship, the change begins with you.