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Top 5 Simple Tips for Healthy Relationships

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What it looks like

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Secrets from the Science of Attraction Dating Data Study: The Ultimate Guide to Food and Dating The 14 Dating Statistics All Singles Need to Know When It Comes to Online Dating, Nice Guys Finish First 36 Things Women in Their 20s Are Looking for in a GuyVideosTop 5 Simple Tips for Healthy Relationships February 28, 2018 by Ashley PapaHealthy Relationships, Relationship Advice 0 0 0 0 Having a successful and healthy relationship takes work, but not the stressful and tedious work you might be thinking. You can have a healthy relationship by following just a handful of simple tips. We asked five relationship experts what their number one tip is when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship. Here are the top 5 relationship tips anyone can follow:   1. Avoid making assumptions. When people know each other for a while, they can sometimes predict how their partner is going to react. However, when couples fall into a pattern of making assumptions about each other too readily, some significant problems may follow, explains licenses psychologist, Dr. Nicoletta C. Skoufalos. “Communication between partners can shut down over time. Partners may stop being curious about each other, and in fact may be making incorrect assumptions about each other that can lead to miscommunications. Additionally, people’s thoughts and experiences or even who they are can change over time. When partners make assumptions about each other they may fail to acknowledge how each has grown over time and this can create distance between them.” Continue to communicate about feelings, don’t hide your reactions, and always express what it is you need from your partner. 2. Focus on the positive. Instead of focusing on flaws in your partner, which perpetuates negative feelings about the relationship, focus on the positive aspects of your partner. “It’s important to look for any positive qualities that you admire in your partner,” suggests Afton Strate, a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist. “If you have experienced a lot of conflict in your relationship this may pose more of a challenge initially, but I encourage couples to find even small things that they can appreciate about their partner. When you have identified something that you like about your partner (e.g., their patience) it can be helpful to connect the quality with an experience that you’ve had with them. You can also reference qualities that initially attracted you to your partner or an aspect of their character that may have been demonstrated more recently.” 3. Play together and stay together. Take turns planning weekly romantic date nights or date days. “Hiking, biking, skating or long walks are great things to do. Learn something new together as a couple such as wine making, snow shoeing, a cooking or dance class,” says Susan McCord (aka Dear Sybersue), a relationship coach and advice columnist. Then, every couple months, even if it’s just a weekend, get away together. “Getting away from everything once a year is also a great way to stay close to each other. You can remove yourself from the everyday distractions at home and enjoy a fun new environment together. Diversity is the key to a strong relationship because things never get stale. You always have something to look forward to,” she adds. 4. Maintain your individuality. Each person in a healthy relationship needs to know who they are and what makes them happy. “Many times when people begin a relationship, they try to please the other person and neglect themselves in order to begin the relationship,” explains Dr. Cherry D. Weber, a licensed clinical psychologist. “People ideally begin to develop who they are in childhood and build off this as they mature throughout their life. If both people have a healthy sense of self they can develop a good relationship by bringing their similar qualities as well as their differences to the relationship, and they won’t have one person dominate or overshadow the other.” 5. Choose the right person. If you really want to know the key to having a healthy relationship, it comes down to who you select to be your partner. “Selecting the right person with whom to build a relationship and share your life is half the battle,” says Elly Klein, a relationship expert and writer. “Yes, you must find them attractive and enjoy their company, but they must also have a good heart, treat you well, and want to be with you. So don’t place all the emphasis on attraction and connection.” The bottom line is that if you’re only just physically attracted to someone and don’t really enjoy spending time with them outside of the bedroom—or if you don’t fully trust, accept, or respect them—the relationship will struggle to be healthy. Find someone else. Some people will tell you relationships are work, and there’s some truth to that, but it’s also trivializing the matter. Relationships, and fostering healthy relationships, are about more than simply working at it. Your relationships are your life, they are living, evolving things just as you are. And as a result they should grow and change just as you do. As you grow in your relationship, keep in mind these five simple tips. And don’t forget to enjoy the ride. Ashley PapaWriter and Author Ashley is a relationship writer and author of her first novel “Vixen Investigations: The Mayoral Affairs“. She writes about it all: sex, love, dating, marriage, and “crimes of the heart”.

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  • Subscribe What Makes a Relationship Healthy?Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Crystal Raypole on December 13, 2019 CharacteristicsRed flagsQuizTipsTakeawayShare on Pinterest If you have or want a romantic relationship, you probably want a healthy one, right? But what’s a healthy relationship, exactly? Well, it depends. Healthy relationships don’t look the same for everyone since people have different needs. Your specific needs around communication, sex, affection, space, shared hobbies or values, and so on may change throughout life. So, a relationship that works in your 20s may be nothing like the relationship you want in your 30s. Relationships that don’t align with more traditional definitions of a relationship can still be healthy. For example, people who practice polyamory or ethical nonmonogamy might define a healthy relationship somewhat differently than people who practice monogamy. In short, “healthy relationship” is a broad term because what makes a relationship thrive depends on the needs of the people in it. But a few key signs do stand out in flourishing relationships. What it looks like “One thing healthy relationships largely share is adaptability,” says Lindsey Antin, a therapist in Berkeley, California. “They adapt to circumstances and the fact we’re always changing and going through different phases in life. Here’s a look at some other hallmarks of healthy relationships.Open communication Partners in healthy relationships typically talk about the things going on in their lives: successes, failures, and everything in between. You should be comfortable talking about any issues that come up, from things that happen in everyday life, such work or friend stress, to more serious issues, such as mental health symptoms or financial concerns. Even if they have a different opinion, they listen without judgment and then share their perspective. Communication goes both ways. It’s important you also feel that they’ll voice their own concerns or thoughts as they come up. People in nonmonogamous relationships may place even more value on emotional check-ins and frequent communication about what’s happening with other partners. Trust Trust involves honesty and integrity. You don’t keep secrets from each other. When you’re apart, you don’t worry about them pursuing other people. But trust goes beyond believing they won’t cheat or lie to you. It also means you feel safe and comfortable with them and know they won’t hurt you physically or emotionally. You know they have your best interests in mind but also respect you enough to encourage you to make your own choices. A sense of yourself as a separate person Healthy relationships are best described as interdependent. Interdependence means you rely on each other for mutual support but still maintain your identity as a unique individual. In other words, your relationship is balanced. You know you have their approval and love, but your self-esteem doesn’t depend on them. Although you’re there for each other, you don’t depend on each other to get all of your needs met. You still have friends and connections outside the relationship and spend time pursuing your own interests and hobbies. Curiosity One key characteristic of healthy, long-term love is curiosity. This means you’re interested in their thoughts, goals, and daily life. You want to watch them grow into their best self. You’re not fixated on who they used to be or who you think they should be. “You hold flexible mindsets about each other,” Antin adds. Curiosity also means you’re willing to consider or talk over changes to your relationship structure if aspects of your existing relationship become less fulfilling. It also involves realism. You see them for who they truly are and care about that person, not an idealized version of them. Time apart Most people in healthy relationships prioritize spending time together, though the amount of time you spend together can vary based on personal needs, work and other commitments, living arrangements, and so on. But you also recognize the need for personal space and time on your own. Maybe you spend this time relaxing solo, pursuing a hobby, or seeing friends or family. Whatever you do, you don’t need to spend every moment together or believe your relationship suffers when you spend some time apart.Playfulness or lightheartedness It’s important to make time for fun and spontaneity when the mood is right. If you can joke and laugh together, that’s a good sign. Sometimes life challenges or distress might affect one or both of you. This can temporarily change the tone of your relationship and make it hard to relate to each other in your usual ways. But being able to share lighter moments that help relieve tension, even briefly, strengthens your relationship even in tough times.Physical intimacy Intimacy often refers to sex, but not always. Not everyone enjoys or wants sex. Your relationship can still be healthy without it — as long as you’re both on the same page about getting your needs met. If neither of you have interest in sex, physical intimacy might involve kissing, hugging, cuddling, and sleeping together. Whatever type of intimacy you share, physically connecting and bonding is important. If you both enjoy sex, your physical relationship is most likely healthy when you:feel comfortable initiating and talking about sexcan positively handle rejectioncan discuss desiresfeel safe expressing your interest in more or less sex Healthy intimacy also involves respecting sexual boundaries. This includes:not pressuring partners about sex or specific sex acts when they say nosharing information about other partnersdiscussing sexual risk factorsTeamwork A strong relationship can be considered a team. You work together and support each other, even when you don’t see eye to eye on something or have goals that aren’t exactly the same. In short, you have each other’s back. You know you can turn to them when you’re struggling. And you’re always ready to offer support when they need you. Conflict resolution Even in a healthy relationship, you’ll have occasional disagreements and feel frustrated or angry with each other from time to time. That’s completely normal. It doesn’t mean your relationship is unhealthy. What matters is how you address conflict. If you can talk about your differences politely, honestly, and with respect, you’re on the right track. Partners who address conflict without judgment or contempt can often find a compromise or solution. Relationship red flags Your relationship should contribute to a sense of fulfillment, happiness, and connection. If you tend to feel more anxious, distressed, or unhappy around your partner, your relationship may be struggling. Signs of unhealthy relationships can vary widely, so this list isn’t all-inclusive. But it may help point out some possible issues. One of you tries to control or change the other “We are never in control of changing another person,” Antin says. If you’re concerned about a specific behavior, you should feel comfortable enough to bring it up. It’s OK to express your feelings and ask them to consider making changes. But it’s not OK to tell them what to do or attempt to control their behavior. If they do something that really bothers you and you can’t accept it, the relationship may not have long-term potential. Your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries Boundaries can come into play across your relationship, from respectful communication to privacy needs. If you set a boundary and they push against it or pressure you to change it, that’s a serious red flag. Maybe you’ve said, “I need personal space when I get home from work. I’m happy to see you, but I need to de-stress before any physical affection.” But they continue to come up to you right when you get home, trying to kiss you and pull you into the bedroom. When you say no, they apologize and say “they just can’t help themselves.” You might brush this off as a sign of affection and keep restating the boundary, hoping they’ll get it eventually. But their behavior shows disrespect for your needs. You don’t spend much time together Relationships often develop when people enjoy each other’s company and want to spend even more time together. Life events can sometimes get in the way of your time together, but these changes are usually temporary. Your relationship might be struggling if you consistently see less of each other without a clear reason, such as family difficulties or more responsibilities at work. Other warning signs include feeling distant with each other or relieved when you aren’t together. You might even try to find excuses to avoid spending time together. The relationship feels unequal Healthy relationships tend to be fairly well balanced. You might equally share finances, or balance out a lower income by running more errands. But relationship equality can also relate to intangible things, such as affection, communication, and relationship expectations. Periods of inequality can happen from time to time. One of you might temporarily lose your income, struggle to help with chores because of illness, or feel less affectionate due to stress or other emotional turmoil. But if your relationship regularly feels unbalanced in any way, this can become problematic. They say negative or hurtful things about you or others There’s nothing wrong with showing concern when your partner does something that worries you. But in a healthy relationship, partners generally take care to express their feelings in helpful, productive ways. It’s not healthy to constantly criticize each other or say intentionally hurtful things, especially about personal choices, such as food, clothing, or favorite TV shows. Criticism that makes you feel ashamed or bad about yourself is generally unproductive. Also note how they talk about others. Your relationship with each other could seem perfectly healthy, but if they use hate speech, slurs, or make discriminatory remarks about others, consider what this behavior says about them as a person. You don’t feel heard in the relationship Maybe you don’t feel heard because they seem disinterested when you bring up a problem or share something that’s been on your mind. Or you might have a hard time sharing your opinion or talking about serious issues because you worry they’ll just brush you off. Miscommunications can happen, of course. But if you do talk through an issue and they seem receptive but don’t make any changes or seem to have completely forgotten what you talked about by the next day, that’s also a warning sign. You’re afraid of expressing disagreement Partners should always feel safe to have their own opinions, even when this means they disagree. If your partner responds to your (different) viewpoint with dismissal, contempt, or other rudeness, this often suggests they don’t respect you or your ideas. If you find yourself censoring everything you say because you worry about their reaction, or feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” every day, as Antin puts it, it may be time to seek professional help. If you fear physical or verbal abuse, talk to a therapist as soon as you can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family for additional support, too. You don’t feel happy or comfortable around your partner For many people, key relationship goals include increased happiness and life satisfaction. If you feel uneasy or unhappy all the time, the relationship may not be meeting your needs. This can happen even when you’re both putting effort into the relationship. People change over time, so feeling dissatisfied and trapped doesn’t necessarily mean either of you have done anything “wrong.” You may have just become different people who no longer fit well together. Disagreements or discussions don’t go anywhere Healthy conflict resolution typically leads to solutions or compromise. Maintaining a relationship is an ongoing process, so you might not work everything out right away. But you usually feel good about your conversations afterward. You usually see some progress. It’s generally not a good sign when you find yourself talking in circles or about the same issues all the time. Maybe there’s never any improvement, no matter how much you discuss something. Maybe they eventually just shut you out. Questions to ask yourself It’s difficult to apply the same standards to every relationship. However, if you’re looking for guidance on whether yours is healthy, there are a few things you can ask yourself as a sort of self-test.Is your relationship healthy?Ask yourself:Does my partner encourage me to grow? Do we share goals for the future?Do we want the same kind of relationship? Can I be myself with them? Do I accept them for who they are?Do we give and take from each other fairly equally? Is my life better with them in it? Does our time together have meaning? If you mostly answered yes, your relationship is probably a strong one. Tips for building a stronger relationship If some (or several) of the relationship red flags struck home, couples counseling might be a good step. “Couples therapy is about two people arriving to work on themselves,” Antin says. Getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you want to work at improving, for yourselves and for each other. But even the healthiest of relationships can sometimes use a little extra work. Here are some tips to make sure things stay on the right track. Embrace each other’s differences “They might be ambitious, while you’re more of a homebody,” Antin says. “But this is a good dynamic, since one of you can initiate activity or go out and adventure, while one of you enjoys quiet time and keeps the home fire burning.”Consider their perspective “Be curious about the way they do and see things instead of trying to get them to see things your way,” Antin recommends.Solve problems as a team “Work together to solve problems, instead of making each other the problem,” Antin says. Ask for what you want, and be equally ready to listen to their desires You may not always agree, but that’s all right. You’re two different people, after all. Being able to find a compromise is key. Try something new together If your relationship seems stale or like it’s going nowhere, try taking it somewhere to see what happens. A change of scenery can sometimes change your perspective. Talk about your goals and dreams This can help you reconnect and make sure you still share similar hopes and values. The bottom line A shared love of spelunking and a mutual fondness for Indian food might have helped you meet your partner, but these factors have little to do with keeping your relationship healthy over time. At the end of the day, you should trust each other and feel safe together. You should believe in your ability to learn and grow together. If you’re worried about your relationship or believe it’s not as strong as it used to be, trust your instincts and explore what these feelings mean. A therapist can help offer guidance on when more effort might help and when it’s time to move on. Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. Last medically reviewed on December 13, 2019 Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Crystal Raypole on December 13, 2019 related storiesHow to Understand and Build Intimacy in Every RelationshipIs Your Relationship Toxic?Is Sex Important in a Relationship? 12 Things to ConsiderHow to Rescue a Damaged RelationshipAll About Autocannibalism Read this next How to Understand and Build Intimacy in Every RelationshipMedically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST Sex and romance may come to mind first, but intimacy plays a role in other types of relationships too! Read on to learn about the different types…READ MORE Is Your Relationship Toxic?Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST The idea of toxic relationships gets thrown around a lot, but what actually makes a relationship toxic? 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We've got strategies to help you keep the peace and avoid an outburst.READ MORE 11 Ways to Release AngerMedically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP Pent-up anger getting the best of you? Learn how to release it in a productive way.READ MORE How to Deal with Pent-Up AngerMedically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP Pent-up anger can result in blowing up or acting out when you know you can get away with it. You may feel irritable most of the day or have frequent…READ MORE Shaving Correctly More Important Than Frequency to Avoid Burns or RashesMedically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN When it comes to avoiding complications from shaving, shaving correctly is more important than how often you shave. Here’s what you need to know.READ MORE What Is the Halo Effect?Medically reviewed by Timothy J. 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  • Subscribe What Makes a Relationship Healthy?Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Crystal Raypole on December 13, 2019 CharacteristicsRed flagsQuizTipsTakeawayShare on Pinterest If you have or want a romantic relationship, you probably want a healthy one, right? But what’s a healthy relationship, exactly? Well, it depends. Healthy relationships don’t look the same for everyone since people have different needs. Your specific needs around communication, sex, affection, space, shared hobbies or values, and so on may change throughout life. So, a relationship that works in your 20s may be nothing like the relationship you want in your 30s. Relationships that don’t align with more traditional definitions of a relationship can still be healthy. For example, people who practice polyamory or ethical nonmonogamy might define a healthy relationship somewhat differently than people who practice monogamy. In short, “healthy relationship” is a broad term because what makes a relationship thrive depends on the needs of the people in it. But a few key signs do stand out in flourishing relationships. What it looks like “One thing healthy relationships largely share is adaptability,” says Lindsey Antin, a therapist in Berkeley, California. “They adapt to circumstances and the fact we’re always changing and going through different phases in life. Here’s a look at some other hallmarks of healthy relationships.Open communication Partners in healthy relationships typically talk about the things going on in their lives: successes, failures, and everything in between. You should be comfortable talking about any issues that come up, from things that happen in everyday life, such work or friend stress, to more serious issues, such as mental health symptoms or financial concerns. Even if they have a different opinion, they listen without judgment and then share their perspective. Communication goes both ways. It’s important you also feel that they’ll voice their own concerns or thoughts as they come up. People in nonmonogamous relationships may place even more value on emotional check-ins and frequent communication about what’s happening with other partners. Trust Trust involves honesty and integrity. You don’t keep secrets from each other. When you’re apart, you don’t worry about them pursuing other people. But trust goes beyond believing they won’t cheat or lie to you. It also means you feel safe and comfortable with them and know they won’t hurt you physically or emotionally. You know they have your best interests in mind but also respect you enough to encourage you to make your own choices. A sense of yourself as a separate person Healthy relationships are best described as interdependent. Interdependence means you rely on each other for mutual support but still maintain your identity as a unique individual. In other words, your relationship is balanced. You know you have their approval and love, but your self-esteem doesn’t depend on them. Although you’re there for each other, you don’t depend on each other to get all of your needs met. You still have friends and connections outside the relationship and spend time pursuing your own interests and hobbies. Curiosity One key characteristic of healthy, long-term love is curiosity. This means you’re interested in their thoughts, goals, and daily life. You want to watch them grow into their best self. You’re not fixated on who they used to be or who you think they should be. “You hold flexible mindsets about each other,” Antin adds. Curiosity also means you’re willing to consider or talk over changes to your relationship structure if aspects of your existing relationship become less fulfilling. It also involves realism. You see them for who they truly are and care about that person, not an idealized version of them. Time apart Most people in healthy relationships prioritize spending time together, though the amount of time you spend together can vary based on personal needs, work and other commitments, living arrangements, and so on. But you also recognize the need for personal space and time on your own. Maybe you spend this time relaxing solo, pursuing a hobby, or seeing friends or family. Whatever you do, you don’t need to spend every moment together or believe your relationship suffers when you spend some time apart.Playfulness or lightheartedness It’s important to make time for fun and spontaneity when the mood is right. If you can joke and laugh together, that’s a good sign. Sometimes life challenges or distress might affect one or both of you. This can temporarily change the tone of your relationship and make it hard to relate to each other in your usual ways. But being able to share lighter moments that help relieve tension, even briefly, strengthens your relationship even in tough times.Physical intimacy Intimacy often refers to sex, but not always. Not everyone enjoys or wants sex. Your relationship can still be healthy without it — as long as you’re both on the same page about getting your needs met. If neither of you have interest in sex, physical intimacy might involve kissing, hugging, cuddling, and sleeping together. Whatever type of intimacy you share, physically connecting and bonding is important. If you both enjoy sex, your physical relationship is most likely healthy when you:feel comfortable initiating and talking about sexcan positively handle rejectioncan discuss desiresfeel safe expressing your interest in more or less sex Healthy intimacy also involves respecting sexual boundaries. This includes:not pressuring partners about sex or specific sex acts when they say nosharing information about other partnersdiscussing sexual risk factorsTeamwork A strong relationship can be considered a team. You work together and support each other, even when you don’t see eye to eye on something or have goals that aren’t exactly the same. In short, you have each other’s back. You know you can turn to them when you’re struggling. And you’re always ready to offer support when they need you. Conflict resolution Even in a healthy relationship, you’ll have occasional disagreements and feel frustrated or angry with each other from time to time. That’s completely normal. It doesn’t mean your relationship is unhealthy. What matters is how you address conflict. If you can talk about your differences politely, honestly, and with respect, you’re on the right track. Partners who address conflict without judgment or contempt can often find a compromise or solution. Relationship red flags Your relationship should contribute to a sense of fulfillment, happiness, and connection. If you tend to feel more anxious, distressed, or unhappy around your partner, your relationship may be struggling. Signs of unhealthy relationships can vary widely, so this list isn’t all-inclusive. But it may help point out some possible issues. One of you tries to control or change the other “We are never in control of changing another person,” Antin says. If you’re concerned about a specific behavior, you should feel comfortable enough to bring it up. It’s OK to express your feelings and ask them to consider making changes. But it’s not OK to tell them what to do or attempt to control their behavior. If they do something that really bothers you and you can’t accept it, the relationship may not have long-term potential. Your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries Boundaries can come into play across your relationship, from respectful communication to privacy needs. If you set a boundary and they push against it or pressure you to change it, that’s a serious red flag. Maybe you’ve said, “I need personal space when I get home from work. I’m happy to see you, but I need to de-stress before any physical affection.” But they continue to come up to you right when you get home, trying to kiss you and pull you into the bedroom. When you say no, they apologize and say “they just can’t help themselves.” You might brush this off as a sign of affection and keep restating the boundary, hoping they’ll get it eventually. But their behavior shows disrespect for your needs. You don’t spend much time together Relationships often develop when people enjoy each other’s company and want to spend even more time together. Life events can sometimes get in the way of your time together, but these changes are usually temporary. Your relationship might be struggling if you consistently see less of each other without a clear reason, such as family difficulties or more responsibilities at work. Other warning signs include feeling distant with each other or relieved when you aren’t together. You might even try to find excuses to avoid spending time together. The relationship feels unequal Healthy relationships tend to be fairly well balanced. You might equally share finances, or balance out a lower income by running more errands. But relationship equality can also relate to intangible things, such as affection, communication, and relationship expectations. Periods of inequality can happen from time to time. One of you might temporarily lose your income, struggle to help with chores because of illness, or feel less affectionate due to stress or other emotional turmoil. But if your relationship regularly feels unbalanced in any way, this can become problematic. They say negative or hurtful things about you or others There’s nothing wrong with showing concern when your partner does something that worries you. But in a healthy relationship, partners generally take care to express their feelings in helpful, productive ways. It’s not healthy to constantly criticize each other or say intentionally hurtful things, especially about personal choices, such as food, clothing, or favorite TV shows. Criticism that makes you feel ashamed or bad about yourself is generally unproductive. Also note how they talk about others. Your relationship with each other could seem perfectly healthy, but if they use hate speech, slurs, or make discriminatory remarks about others, consider what this behavior says about them as a person. You don’t feel heard in the relationship Maybe you don’t feel heard because they seem disinterested when you bring up a problem or share something that’s been on your mind. Or you might have a hard time sharing your opinion or talking about serious issues because you worry they’ll just brush you off. Miscommunications can happen, of course. But if you do talk through an issue and they seem receptive but don’t make any changes or seem to have completely forgotten what you talked about by the next day, that’s also a warning sign. You’re afraid of expressing disagreement Partners should always feel safe to have their own opinions, even when this means they disagree. If your partner responds to your (different) viewpoint with dismissal, contempt, or other rudeness, this often suggests they don’t respect you or your ideas. If you find yourself censoring everything you say because you worry about their reaction, or feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” every day, as Antin puts it, it may be time to seek professional help. If you fear physical or verbal abuse, talk to a therapist as soon as you can. Don’t hesitate to reach out to friends and family for additional support, too. You don’t feel happy or comfortable around your partner For many people, key relationship goals include increased happiness and life satisfaction. If you feel uneasy or unhappy all the time, the relationship may not be meeting your needs. This can happen even when you’re both putting effort into the relationship. People change over time, so feeling dissatisfied and trapped doesn’t necessarily mean either of you have done anything “wrong.” You may have just become different people who no longer fit well together. Disagreements or discussions don’t go anywhere Healthy conflict resolution typically leads to solutions or compromise. Maintaining a relationship is an ongoing process, so you might not work everything out right away. But you usually feel good about your conversations afterward. You usually see some progress. It’s generally not a good sign when you find yourself talking in circles or about the same issues all the time. Maybe there’s never any improvement, no matter how much you discuss something. Maybe they eventually just shut you out. Questions to ask yourself It’s difficult to apply the same standards to every relationship. However, if you’re looking for guidance on whether yours is healthy, there are a few things you can ask yourself as a sort of self-test.Is your relationship healthy?Ask yourself:Does my partner encourage me to grow? Do we share goals for the future?Do we want the same kind of relationship? Can I be myself with them? Do I accept them for who they are?Do we give and take from each other fairly equally? Is my life better with them in it? Does our time together have meaning? If you mostly answered yes, your relationship is probably a strong one. Tips for building a stronger relationship If some (or several) of the relationship red flags struck home, couples counseling might be a good step. “Couples therapy is about two people arriving to work on themselves,” Antin says. Getting help doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you want to work at improving, for yourselves and for each other. But even the healthiest of relationships can sometimes use a little extra work. Here are some tips to make sure things stay on the right track. Embrace each other’s differences “They might be ambitious, while you’re more of a homebody,” Antin says. “But this is a good dynamic, since one of you can initiate activity or go out and adventure, while one of you enjoys quiet time and keeps the home fire burning.”Consider their perspective “Be curious about the way they do and see things instead of trying to get them to see things your way,” Antin recommends.Solve problems as a team “Work together to solve problems, instead of making each other the problem,” Antin says. Ask for what you want, and be equally ready to listen to their desires You may not always agree, but that’s all right. You’re two different people, after all. Being able to find a compromise is key. Try something new together If your relationship seems stale or like it’s going nowhere, try taking it somewhere to see what happens. A change of scenery can sometimes change your perspective. Talk about your goals and dreams This can help you reconnect and make sure you still share similar hopes and values. The bottom line A shared love of spelunking and a mutual fondness for Indian food might have helped you meet your partner, but these factors have little to do with keeping your relationship healthy over time. At the end of the day, you should trust each other and feel safe together. You should believe in your ability to learn and grow together. If you’re worried about your relationship or believe it’s not as strong as it used to be, trust your instincts and explore what these feelings mean. A therapist can help offer guidance on when more effort might help and when it’s time to move on. Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. Last medically reviewed on December 13, 2019 Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP — Written by Crystal Raypole on December 13, 2019 related storiesHow to Understand and Build Intimacy in Every RelationshipIs Your Relationship Toxic?Is Sex Important in a Relationship? 12 Things to ConsiderHow to Rescue a Damaged RelationshipAll About Autocannibalism Read this next How to Understand and Build Intimacy in Every RelationshipMedically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST Sex and romance may come to mind first, but intimacy plays a role in other types of relationships too! Read on to learn about the different types…READ MORE Is Your Relationship Toxic?Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST The idea of toxic relationships gets thrown around a lot, but what actually makes a relationship toxic? 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We've got strategies to help you keep the peace and avoid an outburst.READ MORE 11 Ways to Release AngerMedically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP Pent-up anger getting the best of you? Learn how to release it in a productive way.READ MORE How to Deal with Pent-Up AngerMedically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP Pent-up anger can result in blowing up or acting out when you know you can get away with it. You may feel irritable most of the day or have frequent…READ MORE Shaving Correctly More Important Than Frequency to Avoid Burns or RashesMedically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN When it comes to avoiding complications from shaving, shaving correctly is more important than how often you shave. Here’s what you need to know.READ MORE What Is the Halo Effect?Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP The halo effect is a psychology term that describes giving positive attributes to a person based on a first impression, whether or not they deserve…READ MORE About UsNewslettersHealth TopicsFind an Online DoctorContact UsAdvertising PolicyDo Not Sell My InfoPrivacy Settings© 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. All rights reserved. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See additional information.© 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. All rights reserved. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See additional information.AboutCareersAdvertise with usOUR BRANDSHealthlineMedical News TodayGreatist


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You can separately write down your thoughts about each area and then share them. Or, you might want to just talk them through together. 8 aspects of a healthy relationship: Feel accepted and loved: Although you are different in many ways, and some of those ways might even get under your skin, you each still feel accepted and loved for the essence of who you are. Turn to your partner as a safe haven: When life gets hard to take, you and your partner can turn to each other for comfort. You feel a sense of relief from being in each other’s presence. Encourage each other in exploring your interests: One of the beautiful parts of relationships is that they offer a secure base from which you can feel supported in exploring your thoughts, interests, and values. You encourage each other to continue to develop yourselves as individuals. Appreciate your partner: You and your partner value and respect traits in each other. No matter how long you are together, you want to get to know more about each other, including the small and large changes that happen every day and over the years. This could include new experiences they had in the hours away from you, or what they have been thinking about through their days. Appreciate your relationship: You both value and prioritize your relationship. You devote space in your hearts, minds, and in your lives to nurture and enjoy your relationship. Trust: You and your partner trust that you will be emotionally there for each other. You trust that you will act in ways that support one another and the relationship. Comfortable with intimacy: You open up to each other, sharing your intimate thoughts and vulnerable feelings. By doing this, you maintain your separateness as individuals even as you feel closer. Effectively manage disagreements: You deal with conflicts in a mutually respectful way. You address your feelings well enough that you each feel heard, hopefully lessening their intensity. This allows you to work as a team to solve disagreements between you and problems before you – or to at least find a mutually satisfying way to move forward. As you review these signs of a healthy relationship, consider each one carefully. Are they areas where you feel strong, satisfied, or weak? Talk with your partner about how you might use what you learn from this “checkup” to enhance your relationship. This could mean doing more of what you already do well – such as continuing to enjoy a weekly date. Or, it could mean giving special attention to areas of weakness. For example, you might agree to talk more respectfully to each other during arguments. If you identify a weakness that you don’t immediately know how to address, commit to learning more on your own or seeking professional help. WebMD Blog © 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved. Blog Topics: Dating and Marriage About the Author Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD Dr. Becker-Phelps is a licensed psychologist in NJ and NY, and is on staff at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset. She is dedicated to helping people understand themselves and what they need to do to become emotionally and psychologically healthy. She accomplishes this through her work as a psychotherapist, speaker and writer. She is the author of Bouncing Back from Rejection and Insecure in Love. More from the Relationships Blog Don't Let Technology Distract You From What Matters Most Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD September 30, 2020 People often become so focused on their devices that they lose sight of how technology could allow them to enjoy more fulfilling or pleasurable activities. How to Lessen Your Loneliness Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD September 23, 2020 If you’re fighting loneliness, it’s important to keep in mind that not all relationships provide the same sense of connection. 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