Relationships are a huge part of our lives. They help make up our social support network that is pivotal to our physical and mental health. Relationships include the ones we have with family members, friends, acquaintances and romantic partners. We also have relationships at work, in school and with our community.
The way we define a relationship is dependent on the individual and their unique circumstances. A lot of people receive implicit or explicit messages from culture that a relationship should be long term and monogamous, however, more people are redefining what their relationships look like and creating their own agreements that work for them.
In a healthy relationship, the partners are not afraid to be vulnerable with one another. They respect each other’s individuality and do not try to change the other. They enjoy spending time together but are able to finely balance their own activities and interests. They also take care of their physical and mental well being by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. They communicate openly and are able to resolve conflict without humiliation or degradation.
They also do not forget to show their partner affection, whether it is a hug or a kiss. There is a special feeling that comes with being in a romantic relationship that makes people feel good. Even in longer, more mature relationships, it is important for the partners to still have that connection and for each of them to continue to be attracted to their partner. If they don’t, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.
In addition to physical and emotional intimacy, a relationship can be defined by the amount of mutual trust in the partnership. Both partners must respect each other’s independence, opinions and decisions. They must be willing to work hard for the relationship, but only because they want to nurture it and not because they feel obligated to do so for the sake of a certain label. If a couple works only because of a label, it may be difficult to overcome challenges that come up along the way.
Finally, a healthy relationship is based on honesty. Both partners are able to talk about anything and everything without fear of judgment or consequences. They are not afraid to discuss their fears, worries or dreams and they are open to discussing sexual fantasies. There are no secrets in a healthy relationship and if they have a crush on someone else, they should be willing to share it with each other.
It is important to remember that the purpose of a relationship can evolve over time and it is okay to let go when it no longer serves you. The goal may change from providing a sense of security and stability to advocating for yourself and setting your boundaries. It is a sign of a strong relationship when you are able to lean on each other and heal your scars with each other instead of suffering alone, which feels more therapeutic.