We spend a lot of time talking about how to recognize a toxic person or a toxic relationship, but I think we also need to acknowledge what the right relationships look like, for more than one reason.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter: How do you know you’re in a strong and healthy relationship, or maybe better stated: How do you know you’re in a relationship that’s good for you? Considering these 35 factors can help you decide:
1. When you aren’t walking on eggshells around the other person. You aren’t worried about their reaction, because their reaction to situations is rational.
2. I broke up with my ex for this. Everything I would say she thought I was being condescending. Everything I said would hurt her or upset her. She said she loved me but she acted like she hated me. After we broke up, I would tell friends “don’t get offended by this” and they would be like “I was expecting something worse, that is not offensive at all”. I grew accustomed to not hurting her feelings, even though I always would.
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3. When you both acknowledge your own failings and are willing to work on them. When you put the other person before yourself, communication is open and trust is prominent.
4. When you are comfortable just lying around together doing nothing
5. Your relationships with other people aren’t damaged by it.
6. You argue, but it’s productive and doesn’t escalate into a full-on fight. Some strong language, but no put-downs, and you’re always able to fall asleep next to each other.
7. You don’t ‘fight’, you ‘discuss’. Sure, voices may get raised sometimes, but if both of you realize that it is both of you against a problem, instead of both of you against each other, you are in a good place. (Ex. Money is tight. Instead of fighting over who spends how much on what, you sit down and budget)
8. Lack of undeserved jealousy. Sure, it’s okay to be annoyed if that sleazy coworker of hers keeps hitting on her, but as long as she keeps rebuffing him, so what? Oh, he has female friends? Let him have them!
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9. Nothing feels ‘forced’. You WANT to spend time together. You miss them when they are not around. I am talking long after the initial passionate phase has passed.
10. You don’t define each other. You are still you, with your own hobbies and goals, as are they.
11. It doesn’t feel like ‘work’. If I have to ‘work’ at a friendship, it might be toxic. Same here. Not saying relationships don’t struggle, but see point number 6.
12. To me, a hallmark sign of being in a healthy relationship is when I’m not looking for a way out. I feel content when I know we’re both planning for the future: a future together. If I can’t imagine myself with him 6 months down the line for whatever reason, there is an issue that needs to be sorted out.
13. When the relationship isn’t one sided. One person shouldn’t have the responsibility of the world on their shoulders. Things should be shared as equally as possible. This is in regards to all aspects of the relationship. One person shouldn’t always have the responsibility of taking care of the house if both people work 40 hours. One person shouldn’t always put in the effort to plan dates and outings. One person shouldn’t always initiate sex and physical affection. One person shouldn’t stress themselves out trying to take care of and doing nice things for their spouse when they don’t get anything in return. If any of these things are truly one sided and isn’t a mutual agreement between partners, someone is going to feel upset, frustrated, depressed, stressed, or unloved that they are the only one giving in the relationship, and are likely to feel as though their partner doesn’t care about them. Each person has a responsibility to make their partner happy, and they should want to do it. If it feels like a burden to do something nice for your SO, then the relationship probably isn’t working on some level.
14. You feel like you’re at home. It’s stable. Neither of you is possessive or jealous, etc. There’s just a steady trust that this is your person and they know all your secrets and they’re not going anywhere. Their presence makes you comfortable. I always say, I’m really good at being on my own and being independent and having my own things going on. But as much fun as I have on my own, it’s always more fun with my husband. Having him next to me always makes me feel more confident and relaxed.
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15. You don’t feel relieved when your SO leaves.
16. When you’re not afraid of their reaction to learning you’ve made a simple and easy to fix mistake. E.g., I dropped a few cups of rice on the floor. An unhealthy reaction would’ve been making me feel stupid and irresponsible for it. Instead, he jokingly shook his head at me and basically said I should go get the vacuum and he’d continue making dinner.
17. Your SO is your champion and cheerleader. You both face problems together. You hold hands on the path your life is going to take, they aren’t a burden, you aren’t a burden, because you are BOTH doing the heavy lifting together. When life knocks one of you down, you help them up, they help you. It’s two people against the world, fighting hard to work through the armies of troubles life throws at them. And, if you are like my and my dear, when we both win, we stand on the top of a mound of shitty-life-events and laugh like warlords. We are winning together. When we lose, we lose together, and we try to figure out how to win together. If he’s sad, I’m there. If I’m sad, he’s there. You know you’re in a healthy relationship when you treat each other like allies, lovers, friends, and confidants. I’m so fucking blessed.
18. You and your SO laugh together on a daily basis.
19. You are spot on about that alone time thing. One of the worst relationships I ever had was one where she just assumed if we were both doing nothing we should be spending time together. Explaining repeatedly that “No, I’m not mad at you, but I really just want to go home and play video games for a few hours and go to bed early” was a huge frustration.
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20. When you can feel the mutual love and respect that exists.
21. You water each other. It’s not a competition to out-do the other person, it’s two people doing their best together.
22. Mutual understanding and trust and being able to speak your mind.
23. If you’re not comfortable with doing something physical, the other person respects your wishes, rather than arguing that you’re wrong to feel uncomfortable about it in the first place and pushing that boundary anyway.
24. Just failed at breaking up with my boyfriend last night and this is the thread I wake up too. Need a cup of covfefe first for this one.
25. When problems are something you want their help and perspective on, not something to hide.
26. It’s easy. It feels natural. We just brighten up each other’s lives. When I asked him what our biggest fight was about, it was such a small topic that it made me laugh.
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27. When you can stay together without the need for high intensity experiences
28. A healthy relationship is having two independent people with their own lives and dreams, who happen to wind up together purely because they love the other person for who they are. Not out of loneliness, the need to be rescued, or wanting someone else to make you feel better. Your lives don’t revolve around each other, and your relationship isn’t your only source of happiness. Your partner actively and passively brings the best out of you, and you bring out the best out of them. They are able to make you feel “high”, in a way that doesn’t make you feel unstable. Seeing them happy and do well in life genuinely makes you feel happy as well.
29. When your partner’s happiness is more important than your own and they feel likewise. I love my wife very much and I feel like I love her more every day. It’s a strange feeling but I am lucky to have it.
30. When you can laugh at your mistakes and both of you constantly work to support each other instead of bring each other down.
31. Mutual understanding and respect for one another. You’d be surprised how much this lacking in some relationships.
32. When you both feel that your partner is genuinely thinking of your best interests first. Both feel safe and there is a strong level of attachment. Neither of you feels the need to prove anything and the relationship isn’t a huge emotional rollercoaster.
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33. When “someone doesn’t need you in the least, but chooses to be with you because they love you” – Chris Porter.
34. When you’re ok with spending some time apart from each other – you shouldn’t feel bad about hanging out with your friends or having a guy’s night or a girl’s night or whatever. You should be able to be two whole separate people who are also awesome together.
35. When you get into a fight you A: Don’t get spiteful. B: talk to each other and resolve the matter