Whether you and your partner have just started dating or you’ve been committed for a while, you might be wondering how you can build a healthy, satisfying relationship together.
Healthy relationships are a wonderful source of support and companionship and should offer each partner a sense of emotional and physical safety.
However, this kind of bond doesn’t develop naturally. It takes awareness, commitment, and work to cultivate and maintain a positive connection to your partner.
Ready to learn how to build a healthy relationship? Here’s what you need to know.
- Relationship Health Spectrum
There is a spectrum of behaviors that define the health of your relationship, and yours may have aspects within more than one category.
The spectrum includes the following categories:
- Mutual, respectful communication
- Making choices together
- Trust, honesty, and equality
- Individuality and reasonable independence
- Lack of communication
- Signs of potentially controlling behavior
- Unequal and untrusting
- Threatening or hurtful communication
- Controlling behavior
- Denying wrongdoing
- Isolating a partner
- Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship
So, how do you go about building a relationship that feels safe and equal?
There are some simple ways you can cultivate a healthy relationship when each partner commits; though making these practices a part of your regular routine can take time and practice.
These are just a few:
Maintain Your Individuality
It’s natural to become wrapped up in spending time with someone you have feelings for because relationships can be exciting (particularly when it’s new).
Remember to think long-term, though.
If you abandon your own pursuits, interests, passions, and friends and only spend time with your partner doing whatever they like, you start to lose the identity they were attracted to in the first place.
Over time, as the initial spark fades, you are likely to notice that you’re not as happy in general because you haven’t taken time for yourself or addressed your personal needs.
Things that can seem incredibly obvious to you may not be so clear to your partner. You shouldn’t assume that they can read your mind.
That’s why it’s so important to respectfully communicate with them if there’s something you need, want, or if there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.
This goes for plans and expectations, too: clear communication is the best way to avoid misunderstandings and the possibility of conflict.
When someone does get hurt (it happens in every relationship), compassionate communication is also the best way to work it out.
Plan Time Together
Life can be busy and chaotic, making it difficult to notice that you’re spending less time with your partner as the years go by and other obligations take priority.
Make it a point to plan time together regularly, so you stay connected and present in the relationship long-term.
Even when life is hectic, you can designate a date night every week or month and get creative with what you do together. A game night at home can be just as valuable as reservations at a fancy restaurant. The crucial thing is that you focus on each other for that time.
Go with the Flow
One thing is certain: circumstances will constantly change, either bringing you joy, sorrow, or anything in between.
The ups and downs of life aren’t easy, but knowing that they happen and might affect your relationship can help you get through tough times.
Be flexible and manage your expectations accordingly.
If your partner experiences loss or is stressed at work, be understanding that they may not be able to offer as much in the relationship for some time. Support them the best you can, and ask for reciprocation when it’s your turn.
When one or both partners don’t trust each other, it impacts the whole relationship.
When you trust someone and feel that your overall well-being (both emotional and physical) is safe with them, it establishes a solid foundation for other aspects of the relationship.
The best way to build trust is to be open and honest with your partner at all times.
It’s also crucial to be worthy of trust yourself. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable with your partner doing, such as having flirtatious interactions with other people or keeping secrets about your activities.
- Relationship Red Flags
No relationship is perfect. It’s human nature to disagree or experience misunderstandings. However, there’s a major difference between normal conflict and behavior that indicates a potentially unhealthy or abusive relationship.
You don’t have to tolerate or accept controlling behavior, such as when your partner doesn’t allow you to spend time without them.
If they use threatening language, whether they act upon it or not, that’s a red flag too.
Physical, emotional, and verbal abuse are not only dangerous, but are unlikely to change unless the abusive partner seeks therapy for themselves.
- Can an Unhealthy Relationship Become Healthy?
Yes and no. Let’s talk about why.
When It Can
Sometimes, partners unintentionally become disconnected. That can lead to unhealthy relationship behaviors that shouldn’t indicate that the partnership should end, but it does mean there’s work to do.
Becoming aware of unhealthy behaviors is the first step. Then, each partner needs to commit to the changes that need to be made in order to get back on track.
Earlier, we discussed tips for building a healthy relationship. It’s never too late to start doing these things and work together to cultivate a positive dynamic.
It does take patience and work to create and maintain a healthy relationship, but when each partner really cares and wants the best for the other, it’s worth the effort.
Partners who have the potential to heal their relationship and change unhealthy behaviors often benefit from joint counseling sessions, as well as individual therapy.
When It Can’t
Unfortunately, not every unhealthy relationship can be mended.
It may be that one partner is unwilling to change or put in the effort or that both partners are simply incompatible with the other in terms of mindset, lifestyle, values, or expectations in a relationship.
In some cases, it’s not a matter of compatibility.
Situations involving abusive behavior (see previous Relationship Health Spectrum section) rarely involve a partner who is willing to commit to positive changes.
If you suspect your partner is abusive, seek help with ending the relationship from your friends, family, and community resources as soon as possible.
It doesn’t matter who you are. Everyone deserves to be in a relationship that is safe, fulfilling, and fun.
It may take some effort and awareness, but most people who implement these practices find greater satisfaction and health in their relationships.
You can, too.
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Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over 10 years of experience in the conventional housing industry and works with The Depot at Akron on a daily basis to help them with their marketing efforts.