Human relationships of all kinds are complex, multi-layered, and constantly evolving, none more so than between romantic partners. Having a healthy relationship is so important to all facets of our lives, and contributes directly to our health, wealth and happiness. Of course, not everyone is the same, and that means everyone has a relationship that is unique and feeds on entirely different things. A healthy relationship is about communication, fulfillment, trust, and love, though these needs may manifest differently for different people, and may change with age and experience. So what exactly makes a relationship healthy? And how can we keep our relationship healthy, vibrant and positive over a long period of time? Let’s take a look.
You Should Trust Each Other
Really, the very rock upon which a healthy relationship is built is trust. Building emotional intimacy is very difficult if one partner doesn’t trust the other, or if there is mutual distrust. A relationship in which one party doesn’t believe in what the other says, or doesn’t have faith in how they will act, or cannot rely on their emotional and practical support, is a very unhealthy one. Trust is something that is hard to build and it takes time and consistency to nurture but is all too easily shattered and destroyed.
Keeping Things Fresh
Sex can be a big part of a relationship, and its something that many of us start to take for granted, or lose enthusiasm for over time. It’s good practice, however, to keep things fresh (and spicy) to maintain a physical interest in each other, and to keep surprising one another! There are, of course, all kinds of ways to jazz up your sex life, from role-playing games to fetish parties, from watching erotic films together to experimenting with sex toys. In fact, sex toys are becoming increasingly popular, from entry-level vibrators all the way through to butt plugs and bondage gear for the more adventurous. The way you view your partner changes over time, so don’t be afraid to let the way you have sex change too.
Don’t Play Mind Games
Manipulation, jealousy, mind games – these are sure-fire ways to poison a relationship. Always mean what you say, never play games with your partner’s emotions or seek to control them. A relationship should be a safe space to explore vulnerability, and with that comes a responsibility to treat each other right. Allow yourselves to be vulnerable together, and bear in mind that past relationship experiences may shape how your partner builds their trust in you.
Another key to having a positive, healthy relationship is communication. You should be able to talk to your significant other about anything. Any concerns you have about life, work, your relationship can only benefit from straightforward, clear communication. Knowing how each other feels in any given situation is critical to nurturing your relationship, and having the opinion of your trusted partner is valuable when it comes to making judgments and decisions. As your relationship grows, communications become ever more important and may broaden to include financial concerns and mental or physical health issues.
We spoke about sex, but intimacy in relationships takes many forms. In fact, many couples who identify as asexual still report a romantic and physically intimate connection with their significant other. That isn’t to suggest that you’re asexual, but that non-sexual intimacy is just as deep and important, maybe even more so, when it comes to a healthy relationship. Again, this leads back to sharing a safe space to reveal ourselves, be physically intimate, and emotionally vulnerable. Whatever your attitude to intimacy, you should be able to fully enjoy it with your partner.
In some cases, total opposites attract. But you’re more likely to have a fair amount in common with your partner, in terms of attitudes to life, personal ethics, aesthetic preferences, general interests. Having said that, everyone has their differences – a healthy relationship is a place to accept those differences. Learn to work with the differences – think in terms of your dynamic, capabilities and attributes as a couple.
A healthy relationship has many additional bonuses that improve the quality of life for you and your significant other. You’ll feel less stressed, as the psychological responsiveness to stress is lessened. This could well stem from a feeling of existential security, from the sense of family and safety a healthy relationship fosters. You’ll have a greater sense of purpose – the idea of a spouse who you want to do things for, to impress and to take care of, is a big motivating factor. And studies say that those in healthy relationships are likely to live longer!
There is NO reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship. You shouldn’t put up with red flag behavior. Everyone deserves to be in a healthy, loving relationship, whatever shape or color it comes in. As a wise man once said: Take care of each other!