While there are lots of different and important aspects in a relationship, some are more critical than others. Being in a healthy relationship means being able to fully share yourself with your partner with no fear of physical or emotional harm. While relationships can differ, all healthy relationships have several important things in common. Discover five key components that make a relationship strong and healthy.
What Are the Five Most Important Things in a Relationship?
In a healthy relationship, it is important to prioritize the quality of your relationship and the well-being of each individual.
Healthy boundaries are critical in any solid relationship. Having healthy boundaries means each partner is aware of their own physical and emotional boundaries, can communicate them to their partner, and both partners are respectful of what each individual feels comfortable with. Examples of healthy boundaries include:
- One partner wants to wait to have sex; their partner doesn't pressure them and is open to discussing why without judgment.
- One partner isn't comfortable talking about a certain topic, and their partner respects their wishes.
- Both partners have agreed upon how much contact and communication feels appropriate to them.
- Both partners feel emotionally and physically safe with each other.
In a healthy relationship, respect means honoring your partner's wishes and considering how your behavior and choices will impact them. Both partners must be respectful or the relationship may encounter issues with trust and intimacy. Examples of respect in a relationship include:
- Listening when your partner says no
- Being honest with each other
- Not interrupting each other while chatting or resolving arguments
- No name calling or undermining, especially when fights are heated
- Using active listening when you speak with each other
Without good communication, it can feel really challenging to make a relationship work. Healthy communication means letting your partner know what your needs are, as well as how you are feeling. With healthy communication, couples can connect on a deeper level, and ensure that they are meeting each other's needs. Healthy communication examples include:
- Letting your partner know you like when they help with cooking
- Discussing when one or both of you feels hurt
- Letting each other know how much you mean to each other
- Discussing your relational goals
While cultivating personal insight is an individual task, it can impact the health of your relationship. Personal insight means you can reflect upon your thoughts and behavior, identify why you did or felt something, and notice if this was a healthy or unhealthy reaction to the current situation, or a previous one that may have been triggered. Examples of personal insight include:
- Understanding that your partner may be unconsciously triggering an early childhood memory
- Examining your own thought process and understanding how that impacts your behavior towards your partner
Having emotional intelligence means being able to stay in tune and connected to yourself and your emotional process. Emotional intelligence also includes addressing the emotions that may not feel great to experience, instead of shoving them aside or numbing them out. In a relationship, when both partners have appropriate emotional intelligence, misunderstandings can be mitigated much more quickly and with higher levels of clarity, and both partners' needs can be more easily identified and subsequently met.
What Makes a Good Relationship?
A healthy relationship is one where both partners feel safe expressing their thoughts and emotions to each other so everyone's needs can be met. In a healthy relationship, arguments are resolved, not pushed away, and both partners can work together as a team to process issues. In a solid relationship, both partners genuinely enjoy spending time with each other and are on the same page in terms of relational goals.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Signs of an unhealthy relationship may include:
- Boundaries are violated
- Physical, emotional, sexual, and/or financial abuse
- You feel nervous or scared about communicating your needs to your partner
- You feel your partner has more power in the relationship than you
- You feel intimidated
- You feel you have to act perfectly around your partner
- Fights are not resolved in healthy ways
- You don't feel heard or understood by your partner when you get into arguments
- You don't want to break up for fear of being alone
- Your needs aren't being met despite sharing them with your partner
- Your partner says they'll do one thing, but their behavior is contradictory
Know What's Important in Any Relationship
It's crucial to your health and well-being to be mindful of what a healthy partnership looks like. There are always areas that couples can improve upon, but when you have a good foundation that involves things like mutual respect and setting healthy boundaries, it's easier to overcome the everyday challenges together.