What are the pillars of a healthy relationship?
Depends on who you ask!
Experts argue there are more than 10 pillars of a healthy relationship, on which everything else must be built.
That sounds like a lot! But… It’s no secret that relationships take a lot of work and yours may be no exception. Is it healthy, though?
To find out the answer, you can use the following signs as guidelines. I’ve put together a list of 13 signs of a healthy relationship for you.
Before we get into that, let me paint you a picture of what a healthy relationship looks like. It’ll help you identify the strong points of your relationship and the weak ones as well.
Let’s get started!
What does a healthy relationship look like?
As I mentioned before, there are numerous aspects that make or break a relationship. Experts argue the following are the pillars of any healthy relationship:
Commitment – Being fully committed to each other is not only about dating each other exclusively. It’s also about working together towards a common goal.
Trust – A relationship cannot survive if the parties involved don’t trust each other. Being able to trust one another promotes closeness, as well as a sense of security and safety.
Respect – Mutual respect is essential in any relationship. It shows just how much you value each other. This includes aspects like respecting boundaries and maintaining decent behavior even in times of conflict.
Communication – Good communication refers to being clear about your feelings, expectations, ideas, opinions, and so on. It also refers to creating a safe space to talk about anything, without judgment.
Honesty – Honesty and trust are closely related. You can’t have one without the other. What’s more, being honest with each other promotes emotional intimacy.
Autonomy – People involved in a healthy relationship respect each other’s need for autonomy and encourage it. Spending time apart or doing certain activities individually doesn’t affect their bond.
Intimacy – There are multiple types of intimacy, namely emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual. All of them are equally important in a healthy relationship.
Kindness – The ability to behave with kindness to each other even when they’re angry at each other makes any couple happier.
Common values – Sharing common values is non-negotiable in a healthy romantic relationship. It helps avoid conflict and dissimilar expectations from each other.
Forgiveness – Everybody makes mistakes and that’s why the ability to forgive each other is essential.
So, what do you think so far?
Is your relationship healthy or is your relationship falling apart? If you’re still unsure, here are 13 signs to point you in the right direction:
13 Signs of a healthy relationship:
1. You’re in a comfortable place mentally and spiritually
You and your partner have reached a comfortable level of intellectual and spiritual intimacy.
To be more precise, you feel at ease sharing your thoughts, ideas, and dreams with each other. You agree to disagree and respect each other’s views.
Even if you don’t agree with each other, this doesn’t affect your relationship. You both try hard to understand each other and practice empathy.
On top of that, you are on the same page when it comes to spirituality, too. Your beliefs match your partner’s and the other way around. None of you is trying to change the other.
2. You share physical and emotional intimacy
In addition to the above, you’ve also reached a deep understanding of each other when it comes to your physical, sexual, and emotional intimacy.
You both behave in loving ways that include hugs, holding hands, comforting kisses, and so on. You two often cuddle and offer consolation with the help of a warm touch.
As for your sex life, you two are open and honest about what you want and need. Sharing sexual fantasies and preferences comes easily to both of you.
Can you relate? If you can – especially after the honeymoon phase is over – then chances are your relationship is healthy.
One more thing: Healthy couples bet on being emotionally intimate as well, meaning you continue to show vulnerability by admitting mistakes, sharing secrets, etc.
3. You both trust each other and take accountability
Research tells us that each person’s ability to trust their partner is deeply rooted in childhood. I am talking about attachment styles.
There are 4 main attachment styles, as follows: anxious, avoidant, disorganized, and secure. As you may have guessed, the healthiest one is the secure attachment style.
In this regard, I will give you one example: You don’t take every chance you get to go through his or her phone. You trust them enough not to do that.
What’s more, you have both taken accountability for your actions during the past, a fact which boosted your closeness.
4. You treat each other with respect and equality
Equality, respect, and safety are also among the pillars of a healthy relationship. When you treat each other equally and value each other, there’s simply no room for trouble.
None of you consider yourself better or superior in any way. In your relationship, your income or your social status doesn’t matter.
You don’t treat each other based on how much money you make, how good you look, or how knowledgeable you are.
Most importantly, you don’t manipulate each other or try to control one another. Mutual satisfaction is what you’re both looking for.
5. You communicate your views openly and honestly
A healthy romantic relationship is, among others, characterized by openness and honesty. In other words, you don’t hold anything back from each other, even if the truth is upsetting.
You two prefer to clarify any situation and you own up to your mistakes. And, during the process, you don’t give each other the silent treatment either.
If that’s true, then you might be in for the long haul! How do I know? Numerous studies say so!
In fact, according to a 2018 review of 15 studies, we now know for sure that making constructive statements as well as explaining ourselves to our partners increases relationship satisfaction.
6. You spend enough quality time with each other
Apart from trusting each other, and being open and honest with each other, what else do you think a healthy relationship needs?
Spending quality time together, of course! Why is it important?
Any experience that you share with your partner and the other way around is meant to bring the two of you closer. Trying something new or simply investing time in each other does just that.
You don’t have to go overboard with this. Especially in long-term relationships what matters is to do things together even if something as simple as cooking a meal.
7. You are aware of each other’s love language
Is your romantic relationship healthy? It is if you know their love language and they know yours.
Although you may have only recently heard about the 5 love languages, you must know they aren’t some mambo jumbo that you can overlook.
On the contrary, they are applicable and generally accepted by experts in the field. They refer to how you express love and how your partner expresses love.
Understanding each other’s love language makes your relationship healthy because you know what you need from each other.
The 5 love languages are acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, and physical touch.
8. You handle any disagreement and argument with respect
The way you and your boyfriend/girlfriend act when you disagree with each other or get into arguments can help you figure out if you’re in a healthy relationship or not.
If you or both of you yell or shout, use ugly name-calling, and are disrespectful, then the answer is no.
If you remain calm, don’t use petty words, and don’t raise your voice, then the answer is yes.
The ability to handle disagreements and arguments in an amicable way without resentment helps build the type of relationship we’re talking about here.
9. You support each other’s dreams and goals
Relationship satisfaction can also be measured depending on whether you support each other’s dreams and goals or… you don’t.
Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what you think about your partner’s ambitions or targets in life or the other way around.
What matters is to be there for them, no matter what, and support them during times when success is not the obvious outcome.
Even if you have a silly ambition or your partner dreams big, what’s important is to have each other’s back and always know what to say to make the other feel better (and to empower them as well).
10. You genuinely reciprocate all acts of kindness
The next sign to watch out for is this: The give-and-take in your relationship is balanced.
In strong and healthy relationships, both parties do things for each other. These are called acts of kindness and they can occur as…
… a helping hand when your partner needs one and the other way around
… a thoughtful gift just because (you don’t need a special occasion to surprise each other)
… a personal sacrifice for the good of your partner or your relationship
The list may go on, but here’s what you should remember:
Natural reciprocity is a sign your relationship is healthy. You don’t feel like you owe each other something or feel forced to do anything.
11. You both respect each other’s boundaries
Earlier, we talked about mutual respect in general. Now, I’d like to touch on respecting each other’s boundaries.
Look, we all have boundaries for a reason: To let others know what we’re comfortable with and what they should avoid in their relationship with us.
The same applies to couples. Both of you have to be considerate, understanding, and respectful when it comes to boundaries.
By doing so, you understand that having boundaries is not about keeping secrets or controlling what the other does; it’s about respecting needs and expectations.
As you probably know, a person may have very different boundaries that may be financial, emotional, sexual, and so on. All are equally important.
12. You two adapt to relationship changes and grow together
People in healthy relationships would answer “Yes” to the following questions:
Are you able to forgive each other?
Are you two open to making adjustments?
Do you adapt to various changes in each other’s lives?
Are you two able to cope even if things don’t go your way?
What about you? If you also think that you and your partner are willing to adapt to various changes that might occur, then take this as a positive sign!
Growing together with your boyfriend/girlfriend also ensures the success and well-being of your relationship.
13. The relationship feels fun, exciting, and like a blessing
Overall, the relationship you have makes your life better. It feels secure, mature, and also fun and exciting.
Jealousy may be part of your relationship, but not in an unhealthy way. You both keep it under control because you trust each other.
Your partner doesn’t make you feel small or unimportant and you do the same for them. You treat each other equally and prioritize the well-being of both. None of you is more important than the other.
What’s more, you don’t influence each other negatively. You are both free of addictions or at least you’re trying to live healthier lives.
Romantic relationships are highly complex. They don’t work based on love only.
In fact, there are numerous pillars of a healthy relationship, among which we can name trust, honesty, good communication, common values, forgiveness, and so on.
No relationship is perfect. Even so, if you develop emotional, mental, spiritual, and sexual intimacy with your partner and the other way around, chances are your relationship will thrive.
Mutual respect and understanding also help build strong relationships, just as supporting each other and being kind to each other.
Most importantly, romantic relationships take time and a lot of dedication to reach their maximum potential.
So, if yours doesn’t feel perfectly healthy at the moment, identify the aspects that need more work done and discuss them with your partner. Good luck!