Healthy Relationships

Written By: Multiple Internet Resources

Communication is a key part to building a healthy relationship. The first step is making sure you both want and expect the same things — being on the same page is very important. The following tips can help you create and maintain a healthy relationship:

  • Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s best to talk about it instead of holding it in.
  • Respect Your Partner. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
  • Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
  • Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to your partner. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
  • Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.

Healthy Boundaries

Creating boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner want. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped or like you’re “walking on eggshells.” Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust — it’s an expression of what makes you feel comfortable and what you would like or not like to happen within the relationship. Remember, healthy boundaries shouldn’t restrict your ability to:

  • Go out with your friends without your partner.
  • Participate in activities and hobbies you like.
  • Not have to share passwords to your email, social media accounts or phone.
  • Respect each other’s individual likes and needs.

Healthy Relationship Boosters

Even healthy relationships can use a boost now and then. You may need a boost if you feel disconnected from your partner or like the relationship has gotten stale. If so, find a fun, simple activity you both enjoy, like going on a walk, and talk about the reasons why you want to be in the relationship. Then, keep using healthy behaviors as you continue dating.

What Isn’t a Healthy Relationship?

Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. In the early stages of an abusive relationship, you may not think the unhealthy behaviors are a big deal. However, possessiveness, insults, jealous accusations, yelling, humiliation, pulling hair, pushing or other negative, abusive behaviors, are — at their root — exertions of power and control. Remember that abuse is always a choice and you deserve to be respected. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind.

If you think your relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to think about your safety now. Consider these points as you move forward:

  • Understand that a person can only change if they want to. You can’t force your partner to alter their behavior if they don’t believe they’re wrong.
  • Focus on your own needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Your wellness is always important. Watch your stress levels, take time to be with friends, get enough sleep. If you find that your relationship is draining you, consider ending it.
  • Connect with your support systems. Often, abusers try to isolate their partners. Talk to your friends, family members, teachers and others to make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need.
  • Remember that you deserve to feel safe and accepted in your relationship.

 

Conflict Resolution

There is conflict in all relationships. And by “conflict,” we specifically mean verbal disagreements and arguments. People disagree and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, you have the right to a different opinion from your partner.

Conflict Resolution in Healthy Relationships

In a healthy relationship, communication is key. When you communicate effectively, you understand your partner better and make your relationship stronger. When you can resolve conflicts successfully, you are developing a healthy, mature relationship.

While conflict is normal, it can also be a sign that parts of your relationship aren’t working. If your conflict is based on which movie to see, what friends to hang out with or who should do the dishes, then use the tips below to help resolve these arguments in a healthy way:

  • Set Boundaries. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect — even during an argument. If your partner curses at you, calls you names or ridicules you, tell them to stop. If they don’t, walk away and tell them that you don’t want to continue arguing right now.
  • Find the Real Issue. Typically, arguments happen when one partner’s wants are not being met. Try to get to the heart of the matter. If your partner seems needy, maybe they are just feeling insecure and need your encouragement. If you’re angry that your partner isn’t taking out the trash, maybe you’re really upset because you feel like you do all the work around the house. Learn to talk about what the real issue so you can avoid constant fighting.
  • Agree to Disagree. If you and your partner can’t resolve an issue, sometimes it’s best to drop it. You can’t agree on everything. Focus on what matters. If the issue is too important for you to drop and you can’t agree to disagree, then maybe you’re not really compatible.
  • Compromise When Possible. Easy to say but hard to do, compromising is a major part of conflict resolution and any successful relationship. So your partner wants Chinese food and you want Indian? Compromise and get Chinese tonight, but Indian next time you eat out. Find a middle ground that can allow both of you to feel satisfied with the outcome.
  • Consider Everything. Is this issue really important? Does it change how the two of you feel about each other? Are you compromising your beliefs or morals? If yes, it’s important that you really stress your position. If not, maybe this is a time for compromise. Also, consider your partner’s arguments. Why are they upset? What does the issue look like from their point of view? It is unusual for your partner to get this upset? Does your partner usually compromise? Are you being inconsiderate?

Still arguing? If you try these tips but still argue constantly, consider breaking up. You both deserve a healthy relationship without so much conflict.

Conflict Resolution in Unhealthy Relationships

While conflict is normal, your arguments shouldn’t devolve into degrading or humiliating comments. If you can’t express yourself without fear of retaliation, you may be experiencing abuse. Learn more about verbal abuse and how to draw the line between it and normal disagreements.

Remember, one sign of an abusive relationship is a partner who tries to control or manipulate you. Is your partner upset because?

  • They checked your phone and didn’t like the texts or calls you received?
  • You’re just hanging out with friends but they think you’re cheating?
  • You’re engaged in an activity but they want to talk?

 

What is Emotional/Verbal Abuse?

Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.

 

There are many behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse:

  • Calling you names and putting you down.
  • Yelling and screaming at you.
  • Intentionally embarrassing you in public.
  • Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
  • Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate you.
  • Blaming your actions for their abusive or unhealthy behavior.
  • Stalking you.
  • Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
  • Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about.
  • Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity.
  • Threatening to expose your secrets such as your sexual orientation or immigration status.
  • Starting rumors about you.
  • Threatening to have your children taken away.

Is Emotional Abuse Really Abuse?

A relationship can be unhealthy or abusive even without physical violence. Verbal abuse may not cause physical damage, but it does cause emotional pain and scarring. It can also lead to physical violence if the relationship continues on the unhealthy path it’s on.

Sometimes verbal abuse is so bad that you actually start believing what your partner says. You begin to think you’re stupid, ugly or fat. You agree that nobody else would ever want to be in a relationship with you. Constantly being criticized and told you aren’t good enough causes you to lose confidence and lowers your self-esteem. As a result, you may start to blame yourself for your partner’s abusive behavior.

Remember — emotional abuse is never your fault. In fact, your partner may just be trying to control or manipulate you into staying in the relationship.