Connection, passion, attraction—all of these are star ingredients of every new and exciting relationship. Yet, as time goes on, what is it that makes or breaks a couple? What makes you like and cherish each other in a long-term commitment as well as contributes to your emotional and physical well-being? Although every partnership is unique and little bumps down the road are inevitable, it is important to ask yourselves if you feel safe, heard and not taken for granted by your significant other.
According to a 2019 paper by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a positive and uplifting romantic engagement includes “relationship quality, need fulfillment, the achievement of personal and relational goals, romantic attachment, and the development of individual skills”. Here are five sure-fire healthy relationship signs that you should prioritise, with honest and mutual effort.
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- Communicating openly and honestly
You know you have found the one when you can be your honest, vulnerable self with them without feeling small or insecure. This applies not just to yourself but to how you resolve conflicts, tackle difficult situations and make important decisions in your relationship. In their 2012 book Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems, Schneider et al believe that “when it comes to relationships, it is recommended to start with honesty. Honesty means to hold to one’s integrity, principles, beliefs, actions, and intentions. Honesty includes clearly communicating needs and goals to your partner”. Although you don’t need to know every single detail about each other at all times, being able to trust and depend on each other is one of the fundamental healthy relationship signs.
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- Understanding physical and emotional consent
When it comes to consent, there are no blurred lines, according to United Nations Women. Mutual consent is an explicit, freely given and reversible acceptance of a sexual invitation—both in new and long-term relationships. It is something that absolutely cannot be compromised with, in order to avoid acts of physical, emotional and sexual violence. Emotional consent is another area that needs more spotlight, as continuous emotional dumping on your significant other can have adverse psychological implications on their well-being. We all seek out our partners for comfort and refuge, but we need to remember that they are their own people with their individual concerns as well.
- Respecting boundaries and individuality
When you and your partner have clear-cut boundaries and respect for individual space, it allows you to retain your selfhood. It makes sure that your entire personality is not subsumed by the constraints of your relationship. According to the American Addiction Centres, the natural and intangible boundaries help define where you and your partner start and stop. By agreeing to and abiding by them, you can avoid blame games and feelings of claustrophobia. Obviously, you must have shared interests and activities, but you also should prioritise your own goals and hobbies. Healthy boundaries can present themselves in separate workspaces, spending time with your separate groups of friends or family, nurturing your interests and more.
- Knowing each other’s love language
Communication patterns don’t just depend on how you resolve conflicts but also on how to express intimacy, fondness and affection. Gary Chapman put forth the concept of love languages in his 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, where he proposed that knowing how you and your partner give and receive love can make it easier for you to meet your physical and emotional needs in a relationship. These include acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts and quality time. A healthy relationship is where you not just make active efforts to understand each others’ likes and dislikes, but also avoid imposing them on each other—by finding a common ground that works for both of you.
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- Appreciating efforts and achievements
In a 2011 group of studies published in the journal Emotion, it was found that expressions of gratitude and voicing relationship concerns led to positive thoughts and conditioning among the partners. Mutual appreciation and acknowledgement can make you feel confident and reassured. Even the smallest of compliments and being thankful for the efforts your partner makes can make them feel happier and wanted. Moreover, every partner wants to be in a commitment where the other person encourages their ambitions, celebrates their achievements and does not take them for granted.