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Is your relationship healthy?
by Horsefeathers. February 7th 2014, 07:20 AM

Is your relationship healthy?
By Ada (you'rebeautiful) and Robin (PSY)

There are many reasons for a person to seek out a romantic relationship. For the sake of both people involved, however, it is important to ensure that the relationship is a happy and healthy one. Many people fail to make a distinction between the two. For example, one can be happy with their relationship, but exhibit signs of co-dependence. Relationships can also be fun and passionate, but lack the necessary components for ensuring long-term success.

So what makes a romantic relationship “healthy”? A healthy relationship generally consists of the following:

Effective communication. There is communication, and then there is effective communication. Effective communication consists of bringing up concerns in a timely manner, in a direct and non-confrontational way. Both partners should be open to new ideas and constructive criticism, and should take turns listening and being listened to.

Mutual respect. You and your partner will always disagree about certain topics; however, despite those differences, it is important for both partners to respect each others' personal beliefs and boundaries. For example, if you or your partner are not ready for sexual activity, the other person should respect that decision.

Trust and honesty. You should be able to trust your partner, and vice versa. One should expect their partner to remain faithful regardless of the situation (ex. When attending clubs or hanging out with members of the opposite sex). There should not be doubts or feelings of insecurity on a regular basis. In order to trust each other, there should be an expectation of honesty. While the truth may hurt at times, the ability to be honest with one's partner allows for growth in a relationship, which is an essential component for healthy relationships.

Equality. You should never feel like the relationship is one-sided, where one partner is always “giving” and the other is always “taking”. Partners should be able to support one another equally over the course of the relationship. This doesn't mean partners should keep “score” or feel they “owe” each other, however. The give-and-take aspect of a relationship should come naturally and not feel like a burden or obligation for either partner.

Separate identities. Your relationship should not define your life. Instead, the things that define your life should be carried over into your relationship. While it is natural for couples to develop similar interests over time, it is also important that partners maintain separate identities.

Physical and emotional security. You should feel free to be yourself, discuss your relationship, and voice your opinions and concerns about anything you like, including being open with each other about your sexual history, needs, wants, etc. One should never fear physical or emotional punishment for disclosing information to a partner.

What about signs of an “unhealthy” relationship? This is by no means a comprehensive list; however, the following characteristics may suggest you and your partner are involved in an “unhealthy”, or possibly even abusive, relationship:

Name-calling or swearing. We all get angry from time to time, and may say things that we do not mean during an argument. If you or your partner are frequently calling each other names or swearing at one another, however, this may be a sign that you lack effective communication and mutual respect in your relationship.

Belittling and criticizing. To belittle means to make (someone or something) seem unimportant. One should never feel that their feelings or beliefs are unimportant in a relationship. In addition, criticizing one's partner or attacking a partner's self-esteem demonstrates a lack of mutual respect and physical and emotional security.

Lack of privacy. While partners should be able to trust each other, that trust should not be obtained by invading one's privacy. One should never view their partner's e-mails, phone logs, text messages, chat conversations, journals, day planners, financial information, etc. without their permission. You and your partner should always have an expectation of privacy, regardless of whether or not browser windows are left open, usernames and passwords are automatically saved, or phones and journals are left unattended and “in plain sight”. Concerns about trust should be addressed through effective communication while continuing to maintain separate identities.

Monitoring activity. This issue is separate from lack of privacy, as it can involve actively following partners and keeping tabs on whom they spend time with, how they spend their time, and where they are at any given time. Exhibiting signs of jealousy and constantly wanting to know what a partner is doing demonstrates a lack of trust and honesty and respect for separate identities.

Unreasonable demands. Sometimes, it is necessary for one or both partners to make changes in order to ensure a relationship remains happy and healthy. There are times, however, when demands can be unreasonable. For example, asking a partner to lose weight out of concern for their health is reasonable, but threatening to leave a partner if they do not maintain a certain weight or dress a certain way suggests that there is a lack of mutual respect.

Blaming and guilt-tripping. You and your partner are bound to make mistakes during the course of your relationship, and it is important to accept blame and learn from one's mistakes. Once an issue has been resolved, however, partners should not continue to blame each other or cause each another to feel bad by guilt-tripping. Failing to resolve issues properly may suggest a relationship lacks effective communication, mutual respect, equality, and physical and emotional security.

Physical, emotional, and/or verbal punishment. Physical force, emotional manipulation, and/or verbal threats are never acceptable, regardless of what a partner has said or done. One never “deserves” such treatment, and such actions may even be considered abusive. Abusive relationships lack mutual respect as well as physical and/or emotional security.

As stated previously, there are many more aspects to both “healthy” and “unhealthy” relationships than those that are listed here. There may also be “gray areas”, where you or your partner are uncertain as to whether or not a particular instance is “healthy” or “unhealthy”. If you or your partner are ever in doubt, use effective communication to improve your relationship!

If you believe you are the victim or perpetrator of abuse, or you believe someone you know may be involved in an abusive relationship, we encourage you to check out this list of resources endorsed by TeenHelp (remember, men and women can be the victims or perpetrators of abuse!):

“What is Abuse?” - http://www.cwsor.org/info.htm
What to do if you (or someone you know) are raped - http://www.911rape.org/getting-help/...-you-are-raped
Stages of leaving an abusive relationship - http://www.crisisconnectioninc.org/p...lationship.pdf
Abuse and Rape Hotlines - http://www.teenhelp.org/hotlines
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