Healthy relationships are a joy to be in. They affirm you and make you feel loved and understood. Meanwhile, their unhealthy counterparts are the ultimate wet blankets. While there is a great focus on highlighting toxic behaviors in relationships, it is equally important to be familiar with the characteristics of flourishing unions. Healthy partnerships are not only necessary, but they are also totally achievable. So, what are 5 essentials for a healthy relationship?

1. Open Communication

Any relationship is built on the bedrock of communication. Partners can freely express themselves when communication is open and honest. Open communication offers windows into each other’s minds and hearts.

When it’s burdensome to let your significant other know your true feelings, perhaps you need to develop trust and intimacy in the relationship. Perhaps by holding your emotions back, you’re protecting yourself from your partner’s response. It could be that you’re wary of being judged by your SO when they fail to see your point of view. New relationships are particularly prone to stunted communication. This is because, at that initial stage, you’re still learning how to best communicate with one another.

Nevertheless, unhealthy communication can creep into your relationship. A glaring sign of this having happened is one partner forcing the other one to adopt their behavior and thoughts. Setting boundaries can help rectify this situation. For instance, you can indicate your needs to your partner and let them know your limits. If the relationship is healthy, these boundaries should be respected.

Open Communication in a Relationship

2. Respect and Boundaries

Speaking of boundaries, a hallmark of someone who’s self-aware is their adoption of personal limits. Boundaries instill in us an irreplaceable sense of comfort and safety. If you are in a healthy relationship, communicating your boundaries to your partner feels like second nature. You should also be able to rest in the certainty that those boundaries will be honored. In addition, you should commit to extend the same courtesy to your SO.

If you only want to hang out twice a week, totally cool. Maybe you wish to wait before getting intimate with your partner; that shouldn’t be a problem. If you wish to maintain your age-old nights out tradition with your besties, go for it. Your partner shouldn’t make you feel like you’re walking on eggshells by having robust personal non-negotiables. You might want to reconsider the relationship if it becomes apparent that any friend or SO is manipulating you to traverse your boundaries. For example, a friend of mine tried to coerce me into giving them my passwords. We are no longer friends.

Couple with Healthy Boundaries

3. Support/Feeling Heard and Understood

A partner who respects your boundaries is well-versed in being supportive. They are such a treasure because you are sure that they will always be in your corner. If someone targets a snide remark at you, they’ll be the first to stand up for you. They are an unshakable rock that you can always depend on. A healthy relationship invites partners to view each other as equals and support each other in their various endeavors.

Your SO shouldn’t scheme to exploit you, nor should they derive any pleasure from seeing you low. They are protective of you while being careful not to become excessively possessive. A supportive partner prioritizes your best interests. As such, they will never have any qualms with you pursuing what sets your heart on fire. A healthy relationship ought to encourage you to be your most authentic self. Feeling compelled to compromise your true essence is a harbinger of trouble in your partnership.

Feeling Heard and Understood by Your Partner

4. Trust

It is vital to invest in our relationships beyond the romantic one. By doing so, we refrain from overburdening our partners with the unattainable responsibility of being our everything. This is where trust and integrity are tested. In a healthy relationship, you and yours are confident that the other person will keep their word. Even when you are away from one another, there exists a mutual belief that the rules of the relationship will be respected.

If your SO feels some type of way whenever you’re spending time with the other people in your life, your relationship may have slipped into the unhealthy territory. This is especially so if their concerns are unfounded. (Besides, trust is earned.) It would be necessary to address your partner’s feelings in this case. You want to avoid the isolation, anxiety, and depression that often accompany being unable to interact with friends and family.

Trust is Essential in a Healthy Relationship

5. Mutual Intimacy

Mutual respect for connection and intimacy are key characteristics of healthy romantic relationships. Partners need to be able to voice their boundaries around emotional and physical intimacy within the relationship. This includes, but isn’t limited to, being able to talk about sex and what each partner does or doesn’t like. Of course, these conversations should occur throughout the span of the partnership to ensure that both parties stay contented.

In a healthy relationship, partners are reciprocally attentive to and respectful of each other’s desires. If talking about sex is embarrassing or uncomfortable for one reason or another, the actual sex will be way more stressful than enjoyable. Such a scenario can easily become abusive when one partner is pressured to be intimate when or how they don’t want to.

Intimacy in a Healthy Relationship

Bonus Essential: Having Independent Interests

A healthy relationship leaves room for you to pursue your personal goals, spend time with friends and family, and generally have an existence beyond the partnership. This ensures that both of you retain healthy senses of self within the relationship. Maintaining independent interests also enables you to unleash your talents and gifts, which significantly boosts your self-fulfillment.

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