We’ve all heard about this mythical unicorn known as a healthy relationship, it is the gold standard by which we must hold every relationship too. It apparently exists somewhere in the universe, but no one can seemingly explain what it entails. Having a healthy relationship is not a topic that you learn in school (despite school being the start for many unhealthy relationships) and it’s not something that the movies or pop culture can teach you. Movies teach us that it’s totally normal to have your partner stalk and watch you during your sleep, courtesy of Twilight, and that if your partner doesn’t take you on a drama filled rollercoaster, it’s not really worth it (thanks Sex and the City).
However, building a healthy relationship is critical to any intimate partnership and a lot of us need to unlearn some of the toxic behaviour that society has spent years teaching.
So we decided to unearth some of the mystique around the five elements of a healthy relationship.
Starting off the list is open, honest and safe communication. One of the key parts of building a healthy relationship is being able to speak openly and honestly in a safe environment where each of you feels heard. Communication should consider you and your partner’s needs and expectations of the relationship!
Equality is huge in healthy relationships. Each partner should feel like they’re putting in an equal amount of effort into the relationship, having equal say and feel equal. When one person has more power and control over the other partner in a relationship, we know this can lead to abuse.
Honesty. It seems so basic, but it is a fundamental part of healthy relationships. Being honest with your partner is more than not deceiving them. It’s about being honest when something has hurt your feelings or when you are unhappy. Trust is based on honesty.
Respect for each other ties in with equality and honesty because when you respect your partner’s wishes and feelings, you build trust, honesty and equality knowing all involved are putting in work. Respecting each other also means that it’s okay to disagree with your partner because you know they respect your opinion, ideas and beliefs.
Finally, creating healthy boundaries is important for healthy relationships. In the beginning you may want to spend every moment with your partner and know exactly what they’re doing at every moment of the day, but that’s not healthy. Healthy boundaries mean that it’s okay for one partner to take space, hang out with their friends or indulge in some self-care that supports their mental health. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean that you lose your personal identity, you are still an autonomous person who has partnered with someone based on your feelings.
These are some elements we think are important in healthy relationships. If you or someone you know needs help in fixing or building healthy relationships, contact YW Counselling to set up an appointment.