Our parents or other caregivers model those relationships for us. Sometimes they’re good models that will work well for us all our lives. But sometimes they’re not. And when they are not, we still tend to pair up with people who have the same idea about relationships.
Breaking the rut of making unhealthy connections
So then we get stuck making the same unhealthy connections our parents did, again and again, and wondering why we’re never happy.
We need to learn what healthy relationships look like, so we can stop repeating those patterns. Of course, different types of connections work for different types of people, but in general.
Healthy relationships have a strong sense of ease and compatibility
Partners in a healthy relationship know who they are, they feel good about themselves and are ready to make some level of commitment.
Healthy relationships are not rooted in fantasy. Both partners have realistic expectations about how much happiness should come from the relationship.
They know that in all relationships, there are days when things will feel incredibly exciting and days when the relationship will feel ordinary; it’s not all or nothing, intoxicating romance or unbearable pain.
Compatibility and ease in a relationship come from being alike or having a high tolerance of differences. Healthy couples are sexually compatible, meaning they have similar preferences and ideas about what makes for good sex.
Partners in healthy relationships have similar values
They also have similar values about things like money, religion, monogamy, and parenting—although these certainly do not have to be identical.
When it comes to family, the traditions and rituals of each partner’s family must be renegotiated—so both partners need to be flexible enough to do that—and the couple will create some of their own rituals and traditions.
Both people depend on each other. That dependence makes the other feel person safe and nurtures their resourcefulness and resilience. Because both partners are dependable, both feel more fearless, more self-sufficient.
They celebrate that strength and independence in each other.
Healthy couples spend quality time together and quality time apart
They share some interests, but they do not share every moment. They have fun together and fun with other friends. They have personal boundaries that the other partner respects. There are patience and tolerance, give and take.
Each partner is able to ask for what they want. They say what they mean, directly but with sensitivity. It is this kind of honesty that engenders trust.
Sound too good to be true?
In even the best relationships, couples have their ups and downs. They disagree, they sometimes even argue. But there is a basic willingness to negotiate and compromise, to face problems together without overreacting, and to make sacrifices now and then.
Healthy couples fight fair
When they fight, healthy couples fight fair, expressing their opinions without attacking the other person.
They don’t dish out or tolerate abuse. They listen as well as talk. They are role models for each other, rather than nags.
At the end of a fight, something has been understood and something has been resolved.
If this sounds about right to you, wait until you find it.
Healthy relationships are definitely worth waiting for. If it sounds a little crazy, think again about what you’ve been pursuing, who you learned it from, and whether that’s really your path to happiness and let go of what seems like a healthy relationship, but is far from it.