How does a healthy relationship look?

We’re not talking about a Happily Ever After Disney romance.  Healthy relationships don’t just happen when you meet the “right” person.  They take continuous work and commitment.  Take a moment to step back and consider how you envision a “normal” relationship.  Do the song lyrics about a female’s need to look and act a certain way or reality TV’s roller coaster relationships impact your views of a “normal” relationship?  Would a guy still be considered “cool” if he treated his partner with only the most genuine respect?  Closely reconsider your ideas of a typical relationship, and then take a look at some characteristics of healthy relationships:

  • Both you and your partner communicate openly with mutual respect.  You can share thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment, criticism, or any other negative response.
  • Your partner would never pressure you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.  Your partner is patient and respectful of your relationship boundaries.
  • Your partner is not jealous, possessive, or controlling.  You are never told who you can talk to, where you can go, what you can wear, etc.
  • Disagreements are natural, but yelling, put-downs, or silent treatment aren’t part of the mix. Instead, you both talk and listen to understand one another, and respect differences even amid disagreements.
  • Support is a 2-way street.  Even though you are a couple, you both leave room to be your own individual.  You encourage one another to spend time with friends and family, doing a variety of activities both together and apart.
  • There is no electronic leash.  Your digital communications aren’t monitored, nor are you required to “check-in” periodically or promptly after getting messaged.
  • You love spending time together, and bring out the best in one another.  Your relationship is not marked by ups/downs, mood swings, negativity, or fear.

How many relationships do you know that sound like this?  It’s not impossible to achieve, but it takes conscious work to have healthy relationships, while if you think you only care about sex in relationships you can also get help with this from sex addiction help online that are great to help in this area.  Read on to look at differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

Relationship Guide: How do you measure up as a couple?

Healthy Relationships

Unhealthy Relationships: Red Flags

You respectfully and openly speak your mind without worry about the other person’s reaction.  Your feelings, thoughts, and actions are always respected.  Your partner never pressures you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. You watch what you say for fear of judgment, criticism, or a negative response.  You feel pressured to act or behave a certain way.  You find yourself agreeing or saying and doing whatever it takes to keep your partner happy.
You feel like a better, stronger person when you’re together.  You encourage and build one another up. Your partner critiques, criticizes, or calls you names.  They may also say they were joking or tell you to lighten up.
When you disagree, you still give each other a chance to talk.  You listen and try to understand each other’s perspectives, and you respect your differences. With disagreements may come yelling, put-downs, silent treatment, threats, accusations, digging up the past, interrupting or talking over one another, and other unfair fighting rituals.  Your partner may threaten to reveal private information about you.
Support is a 2-way street.  Even though you are a couple, you both leave room to be your own individual.  You encourage one another to spend time with friends, family, and doing a variety of activities both together and apart. You limit one another on places you can go, people you can talk to, clothes you can wear, etc.  Social network passwords must be disclosed.  You feel “watched.”  You feel like you have to sacrifice relationships, personal privacy, and perhaps even some of your interests and aspirations.  You may “ask” to go places or hang out with others.
There is no electronic leash.  Your partner would never check your digital communication nor are you required to “check-in” every so often. You are expected to respond quickly after any direct message or else you will get a barrage of messages, questions, or accusations.  Your accounts may be monitored.  Your partner may insist on checking your cell phone, sharing your social network passwords, etc.
Your partner is usually upbeat, positive, and happy, and rarely has any moodiness or shows excessive anger. Your partner is often negative, critical, and judgmental in general.  Your partner can have mood swings and a bad temper towards you and/or others.
You celebrate each other’s accomplishments and abilities and you feel encouraged to be your best. Your partner shows signs of feeling unhappy, threatened or intimidated by your talents and accomplishments and may try to restrict you from further developing or exploring your interests.

If you can identify with any of the red flags, beware!  You are experiencing signs of power, jealousy, and control.  This is not love.  You may want to believe these behaviors mean your partner cares for you, but really it means the person is NOT focusing on YOU, but their own interests.  No matter what excuses are made, what apologies are given, promises to change, or insisting they cannot help it, it is only actions that show unselfish, meaningful love.  You deserve a healthy relationship.  Don’t settle for less.