Dating, hooking up, going out — whatever you call it, intimate relationships can be complicated. Getting close to someone emotionally and physically has its risks and rewards. And knowing the keys to a healthy relationship — respect, honesty, trust, fairness, equality, and good communication — helps make everything go more smoothly.
Unhealthy Relationships at a Glance
- People can hurt their partners verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically.
- If you feel you’re being treated badly, you probably are.
- Help is available.
Healthy and happy relationships help us feel better about ourselves and our place in the world. Unhealthy relationships can make us feel unhappy and unsafe.
If something doesn’t feel right in your relationship or the relationship of someone you know, you’re not alone and we’re here to help. The truth is many people find themselves in hurtful, unsafe, or violent relationships at some point. In fact, one in four women and one in seven men report physical violence at some point in their lives. And physical violence is only one type of abuse — many people experience types of abuse, as well. Anyone can find themselves in an unhealthy relationship, no matter their age, gender, or sexual orientation.
Open and clear communication is critical to a healthy relationship. Good communication means considering the thoughts and feelings of your partner and sharing your own thoughts and feelings in ways that are honest, compassionate, and respectful. Good communication is not always easy; both partners must be willing to put in effort to make it work. Individuals who practice good communication skills are more likely to develop relationships that are fun, affirming, forgiving, and healthy. Check out these three ways to know if you and your partner are communicating well:
1. Express your true feelings and opinions without fear. Create a safe environment where you and your partner can honestly share and listen to each other’s feelings. If you are upset or concerned, talk about it. Working through difficult situations builds trust and helps make relationships even stronger. Being able to share honest feelings doesn’t mean you can just “say what you want to say, how you want to say it.” It means being kind with your words, saying what you mean—but in a way your partner can hear it most positively.
It is equally important to share the good things you appreciate about your partner or when something your partner does makes you happy. Don’t be that person who always complains and spreads negativity. When partners express their feelings about the good things happening in the relationship, both confidence and self-esteem are developed.
2. Listen to each other. Sometimes the biggest fights happen because one partner feels like they are not being “heard” by the other. Assuming you know what your partner is thinking or feeling can lead to major stress in a relationship. If you have a question about something, ask. Be ready to listen to what your partner has to say without interrupting or judging. Try to understand his or her perspective. Even if you do not agree with each other, you both have a right to be heard.
3. Compromise. Does one of you always seem to be “right” in every situation? That might be a red flag for a growing problem. No relationship is perfect all the time. As problems arise, remember it’s okay to have disagreements. Partners often have different desires, opinions, and ideas. They have the right to think differently. However, partners need to respect each other’s unique points of view and work out challenges together. Each partner is an equal participant in the relationship and should be able to share in decision making.
Relationships can provide us with great happiness, but they can also be challenging. Everyone deserves to feel happy in their relationships. We can all learn ways to make our relationships healthier.
It is important to know the characteristics of healthy relationships so you can develop good relationships with others. Healthy relationships include six basic qualities:
Treat others the way that they would like you to treat them.
2/3 Honesty and Trust:
Healthy relationships involve honestly sharing feelings with another even when this is difficult. When individuals trust each other they are less likely to become overly jealous or controlling, which are unhealthy components of a relationship. Trusting another person involves feeling that you can count on and rely on that person. It also involves feeling safe in sharing your thoughts and feelings with that person.
4/5 Fairness and Equality:
Individuals in a relationship need to feel that they are being treated fairly and as equals with their partner. Individuals treat each other fairly by acknowledging the other person’s feelings and opinions and listening to the other person’s point of view.
6 Good communication:
Quality communication involves actively listening to each other’s thoughts and feelings and feeling safe in sharing your thoughts with your partner. Good communication allows individuals to know that they are cared for and supported.
Does your relationship make you happy? Take the quiz.