Making Sure You Have Healthy Relationship Characteristics
Table of contents
Some of the most common healthy relationship characteristics
Let’s explore some of the features of a healthy relationship and how they can improve intimacy and closeness when couples work on them together.
Communication is the hallmark of a good relationship. No relationship can function properly without it. Couples need to feel like they can always share their thoughts and feelings so you can not only strengthen your relationship when someone isn’t pulling their weight but also when external things upset one of you.
Trust and honesty
This is very much intertwined with communication when it comes to healthy relationship characteristics. When relationships aren’t built on a solid foundation of mutual trust, it tends to have a malignant cascading effect on other aspects of your relationship. You need to be able to dependably rely on each other for a relationship to grow. For instance, a recent Forbes survey found that 54% of people believe that lying about your shared finances is equivalent to infidelity1.
You’re not always going to agree on everything. What’s important is that you not only talk it out but that one of you either comes to the table willing to compromise – whether it’s making more time to spend together or giving up a certain habit – or that you can find a healthy way to meet in the middle.
This is one of the early signs of a good relationship. Regardless of the affection and love you may currently feel for each other, respect is what lays the groundwork for an enduring, healthy partnership. Some common features of mutual respect are sticking to plans, not being late and showing interest and appreciation for the other person’s romantic efforts, their interests and the deeper aspects of their life.
Being able to hash out your issues in a calm and receptive way is crucial. It lets you explore each other’s perspective, clears up simple misunderstandings before they become bones of contention in the relationship, promotes greater intimacy, and strengthens the relationship in the long term. It also stops grudges and resentment from building up to the point where they can make the relationship unsalvageable.
Every relationship has its own approach to roles. These can be gender roles or just ones that have distinctly emerged in your relationship. Regardless, equality is always key. If one person is doing all the work in the relationship, whether they’re the one always organizing romantic events or just carrying most of the load in maintaining your shared life, it’s going to lead to simmering resentment.
While your relationship is a vital and central part of your life, it’s still just a part. An important element of healthy relationship characteristics is that each partner also has their own network. This includes having your own friends, interests and activities. This can help build a stronger bond in the long run as time apart helps you reflect on the relationship and give each other space2.
A recent study showed that vulnerability in relationships is not only beneficial to strengthening your bond by making you less sensitive to perceived slights, but it also has long-term benefits to your mental health3. Being vulnerable can be as easy as telling your partner what’s on your mind, being open about fears you have in the relationship and being willing to be wrong in conflicts.
Boundaries are a crucial part of healthy relationship characteristics
While we discussed compromise earlier, an equally important ingredient in a healthy relationship is boundaries. If something in your life is important to you, be it being private about certain things or having certain aspects you’re unwilling to explore sexually, your partner needs to respect that. You should also communicate your boundaries early on and be firm when you feel they’re overstepping them.
A good relationship hinges on mutual empathy. When one of you falls short of the other’s expectations, it’s important that your partner can see it from your perspective and be able to identify with the occasional foible despite their own feelings.
Empathy also helps you pick up on things that may not be going well in your partner’s life but they’re reluctant to burden you with it.
A hallmark of a good relationship is being able to keep the romance alive, even after you’ve been dating for a while. While this spontaneity feels natural in the early days, we can sometimes become complacent. Set aside days to go on dates, surprise them sometimes with flowers or a random gift or just tell them how much they mean to you from time to time.
Fondness and affection seem like such a natural part of a relationship, but it can naturally fade over time. Healthy relationship characteristics are also tactile. This can be a range of things like putting effort into keeping intimacy mutually enjoyable, expressing amorous gestures when you’re spending time together – like cuddling while you watch TV – or just holding hands when you walk together.
People in couples are often guilty of falling into a rut of taking each other for granted. But appreciation helps nurture feelings, express the value you see in them, validate each other’s contributions to the relationship and show gratitude for the sacrifices they may have made for the sake of continued harmony. It also strengthens your emotional connection and fosters more positive and supportive ways of communicating.
One of the clearest signs of a good relationship is your partner seeing you as a reliable support system. Are you the first person they call when something goes wrong? When they ask you for your help, are you open and responsive? Just something as simple as asking about their day not only shows interest in their lives but a willingness to be there for them and serve as a source of comfort through their frustrations.
There is no simple answer to, ‘what does a healthy relationship look like?’ but a key quality you’ll both need is patience as you get to know each other, nurture your relationship and learn to get past each other’s quirks. Not all relationships work out but sometimes there are just small features that can change as you grow as a couple, and it can take patience to wait for those special qualities to emerge.
Tips on building a solid and healthy relationship
Creating a strong, meaningful budding connection that sprouts into a healthy relationship doesn’t just happen on its own, it takes work and compromise from both parties. Here are some effective ways of cultivating healthy relationship characteristics:
- Spend quality time together – The demands of daily life can often be overwhelming, and we often just want to relax after work but it’s important to take time to engage as a couple. Have an in-depth conversation about your feelings or organize an unusual date that expands both of your horizons.
- Learn to listen to your partner – When we date someone for a long time, we can sometimes become somewhat perfunctory about conversations. But it’s important to really take time out to hear about their day, their frustrations and the daily experiences that affect them. It can also help you get a better understanding of where your relationship is headed.
- Learn to tell your partner what you want – While our partners tend to know us really well, they can’t read our minds. There’s no point in getting frustrated with your partner for not meeting an expectation you have if you’re not willing to communicate that expectation in a mature and reasonable way.
- Don’t forget to focus on yourself – While early signs of a good relationship certainly involve investing in its growth and your intimacy with the other person, it’s important to lose sight of yourself in a couple. So don’t let focusing on your budding relationship come at the cost of other things in your life such as your ambitions, friendship and the other passions that fill your life.
- Put effort into growing your relationship – Healthy relationships take work. If you’re not putting the effort in terms of being honest with your partner, supporting them when they need you and showing your appreciation for what they bring to the relationship then there’s little chance of your relationship growing into something deeper.
- Treat your argument as a learning experience – Conflict is inevitable in any relationship and has even been proven to help strengthen your bond. What’s important is that you fight the right way, where grievances are shared rationally, you give each other chances to express yourself and, in the end, can see things from each other’s perspectives and grow from the argument.
- Make spontaneous romantic gestures – It’s always important to keep the romance alive, even when you’ve been together a long time. As we said, a simple bouquet can show you’re thinking of them. But you should also go for bigger gestures such as planning a surprise weekend away together or splurging on a fancy restaurant.
- Let go of your need to control – It’s important to recognize that despite the fact you’re building a life together, your partner is a separate entity, with their own desires, dreams and faults. Wanting to exert too much control on your partner robs them of that agency and only serves to alienate them as you compromise their sense of identity and independence.
- Get to know your partner’s non-verbal cues – Having a deep knowledge of your partner is one of the most important healthy relationship characteristics. While communication is key to a strong relationship, your partner will often communicate certain things non-verbally, either because they don’t feel like expressing it or sometimes because they’re not even aware of it themselves. Learn to read and respond positively to these gestures. This will make you seem more present as a partner and attuned to their emotional wavelength.
- Make sure you’re on the same page – Sometimes, early in the relationship, we can let our emotions get ahead of reason. But an important aspect of a successful relationship is having similar values and goals for the relationship. Do you have similar boundaries regarding intimacy? Do you both want children? Do either of you have personal ambitions that may make your relationship unviable in the long term? It’s crucial to explore these aspects early on.
Only healthy functioning relationships are worth your time
As we said, there is no single pathway to a good relationship but if you keep these healthy relationship characteristics such as honesty, communication and respecting each other as distinct people in mind as your affections deepen, it can create the foundation for a much stronger, mutually enriching bond down the line.
eharmony helps with this by only connecting you with relationship-minded singles that share a high degree of psychological compatibility, putting you on a more solid footing from day one. So come find your next great relationship now. Register for eharmony.