What constitutes as a ‘healthy’ relationship is different for different people and different couples. For some, one where one or both of the partners are free to be with other people doesn’t even qualify as a relationship, but if they are happy then who can dispute the validity of it?
So how can you tell whether you are in a healthy relationship for you? Are there common signs that apply to all relationships or does it vary from relationship to relationship? These are the million dollar questions, but here are some suggestions of determining if you are in a healthy relationship.
* Are you happy?
This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. Don’t underestimate ones power to deceive oneself – we are masters of telling ourselves what we want to believe. So when you ask yourself this question, try and be as brutally honest as possible – as painful as some of the truths you may come to realise may be, it will cause less pain in the long run – consider it an emotional investment.
When you ask yourself this question, you also need to assess what you will accept as your answer. Is it realistic to expect to be deliriously happy with every aspect of a relationship? Is it acceptable to like everything about your relationship but love nothing?
Nobody can prescribe how happy you should be to sign your relationship off as a healthy one, but you need to decide whether it is what you want – honestly.
* Are you following any patterns?
Often when problems strike in a relationship, they trigger a familiar feeling. This is because we are slaves to conforming to natural patterns – sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing.
You need to draw from past experience, if applicable, and consider what you thought adversely affected your past relationships. Once you have identified these issues, you need to consider what, if any, steps you could take to avoid them or at least implement some sort of ‘damage control’. Once you have opened your eyes to this, it is easier to assess whether or not you are making the same mistakes, or falling into the same destructive patterns, and if you are, then you will be in an empowered position to take corrective action, if there is any to be taken.
Without wishing to take the romance and spontaneity out of a relationship, it is always healthy to heighten your awareness of certain aspects to ensure that you can judge whether or not your relationship is one you consider healthy.
* Enhancing or holding you back?
It sounds like a cliché but a relationship should always be something which enhances you, enriches your life and makes you look forward to the next day, everyday. The statement sounds very grand and potentially unrealistic, but do not confuse this with being in a constant state of happiness; it is natural to be annoyed at your partner after an argument, but is it healthy to feel like you want to end your life over it? Dramatic? Perhaps. Realistic? Unfortunately yes, for too many people.
To determine whether you are in a healthy relationship, you need to think about what your relationship brings to your life, and whether this is what you want. Additionally, against natural instinct, you also need to consider what you bring to the relationship for your partner, and whether you are happy with your ‘contribution’, so to speak.
* What do you want from your partner?
Whether your relationship is healthy or not, you need to decide whether you partner fulfils your expectations, and whether you are satisfied that your expectations are realistic and whether or not they can or should be compromised.
For example, if your partner is your lover, best friend, and companion, but is not someone who stimulates your mind as others in your life do, is that good enough for you? Or do you need your partner to be all those things? Perhaps you can compromise on him/her being your best friend but know you need to be with someone who stimulates your mind.
Just opening that metaphorical can of worms indicates how much this one topic can affect whether or not a relationship is healthy for you, because if your partner does not satisfy what you want out of your relationship, whilst at first you may be able to tolerate it, after time, you will inevitably bring resentment into the relationship which will almost certainly seal it as an unhealthy one for you to be in.
Determining whether you are in a healthy relationship can be difficult to judge as often when you are in one and you have doubts, it can be balanced out with the question ‘but what is normal?’. So before you decide to dissect the health of your relationship, it may be a good idea to decide what you would define as a healthy one for you, in context of your current relationship, so that you have something to compare against.