When it comes to defining healthy relationships, the notion of romantic perfection can sometimes cloud your judgement. A couple should have the same taste in music, say those magic three words before bed without fail, religiously dine together every night, or have all their friends in common. It’s a pretty vision, but it also puts a heavy burden on you and your S.O. The truth is these expectations only scratch the surface of what constitutes a fulfilling partnership.
Unlike the glaringly obvious red flags that signal dysfunctional dynamics, the green flags often manifest in subtle yet profound ways. So, whether you’re in a long-term coupledom or in the early stages of a budding romance, here are the hallmarks of healthy relationships.
1. You Trust and Respect Each Other
With too many cheating stories swirling on social media, the temptation to snoop through your partner’s phone can be overwhelming. But what makes a healthy relationship feel so easy to nurture is mutual trust and respect. Here, both individuals honour each other’s personal space. This means you avoid invasive behaviours like checking their text messages or demanding proof of their whereabouts.
At the same time, you’re open about worries in the relationship. If you express concerns, your partner makes genuine efforts to respect your boundaries, and vice versa. The two of you are willing to compromise in hopes of strengthening your bond.
2. You Communicate With Ease
Sometimes, anger fills you up, and all you can think about is lashing out at your partner. However, couples in healthy relationships can communicate clearly (and kindly), even during times of conflict. It’s a skill you and your S.O. need to cultivate continuously. When you can freely express your feelings without fear of being judged, you can resolve problems much faster.
According to research, couples who give constructive feedback and use “I” instead of “you” messages are more satisfied in their relationships. The key is to focus on addressing specific behaviours or situations rather than acting in passive-aggressive ways. Remember, you’re a team, not rivals.
3. You Support Each Other Through Thick and Thin
The best romantic partner is not necessarily the one who wows you with amazing dates or thoughtful gifts. While those gestures are lovely, healthy relationships are about the unwavering support partners provide each other. They offer a comforting shoulder to cry on and act as your biggest cheerleader, no matter how small your struggle or achievement is.
Being supportive also means working together as a team. You make decisions together and loop each other in on your plans. For example, you can discuss investing in orthodontic treatments like clear aligners from ClearCorrect to boost your self-esteem. That way, your partner can help take you to appointments or remind you to store and clean the aligners properly.
4. You Can Apologise and Forgive
What does a healthy relationship look like? If you imagine a couple who never fights and always agrees on everything, you may be setting unrealistic expectations. Nobody is perfect. You and your partner are going to make mistakes along the way. What matters is how you take responsibility for your actions. Additionally, genuine apologies should go beyond mere words. You need to acknowledge the hurt you’ve caused, show remorse, and commit to change.
Equally important is your willingness to pick your battles and forgive. Of course, you deserve to express your disappointment. But once you talk it out with your partner and let go of resentment, you should rebuild trust and repair the connection.
5. You Laugh About Anything
Perhaps your smile looks weird in one photo, or they burn half of their lasagna. When you’re in a healthy relationship, you’re never afraid to poke fun at each other. A recent study published in the Journal of Research in Personality revealed that couples who tease each other have happier relationships and sex lives.
Finding humour in things others see as failures or flaws is a unifying force that brings partners closer. The intention of the joke is not to belittle your loved one. It serves as a reminder that you accept them for who they are – quirks and all.
Healthy relationships can manifest in different dynamics. As long as you and your partner exhibit these signs, you’re on the right track. And if you’re still searching for “the one,” use this list as a benchmark.
Brauer, K., & Proyer, R. T. (2018). To love and laugh: Testing actor-, partner-, and similarity effects of dispositions towards ridicule and being laughed at on relationship satisfaction. Journal of Research in Personality, 76, 165-176.
Du Plooy, K., & De Beer, R. (2018). Effective interactions: Communication and high levels of marital satisfaction. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 28(2), 161-167.