Relationships exist on a spectrum, and that means defining them can be complex. This is because we all navigate through them differently. The perfect definition of a healthy relationship may not exist. However, we can identify practices that lead to a healthy relationship. Using this article found on Loveisrespect.org, Sam Killermann lays out some foundations for us. Building the foundation for a healthy relationship starts with practicing respect, equality, safety, and trust. The way we use them is what matters.
We all know the golden rule, treat others the way you want to be treated. When we expand on that, you feel respect when you appreciate each other's points of view in a relationship. You openly communicate, listen, and accept their opinions and beliefs. You recognize your partner as an individual. When you set your boundaries, they are observed and abided by. You genuinely care about each other and your relationship and treat it with care.
When it comes to equality in relationships, you want to feel like you have just as much power as your partner. There is a balance between you. You utilize this through making decisions together and creating agreements. You each have a say in what is going on in your relationship. You work towards meeting each other’s needs. You take turns making compromises when needed, and your opinions in matters feel just as important as their own. In disagreements, you feel freedom to express yourself, and each point of view is taken into account.
Here at Family Services, we thrive by emphasizing “safe homes, safe relationships, and safe children.” Safety is of utmost importance. In a relationship, safety is knowing that your partner will not intentionally harm you, physically or emotionally. Safety is also protection. Your partner looks out for you and cares for your overall well-being. To create a secure and safe bond, you give each other space and time to connect and be intimate. Emotional safety is abundant when you let each other feel they can freely communicate feelings and acceptance.
Trust in a relationship is present when you and your partner believe and rely on each other. When you tell each other something, you have no doubts whether that is true. You also believe in one another's actions and that they always have good intentions. You are comfortable confiding in your partner, and your secrets are kept with them. When times get tough, you know that you will be by each other’s side. In a trusting relationship, your partner doesn’t need to explain or justify their actions continuously. Trust helps you do your own thing while they do theirs, and you don’t have to constantly worry about where they are or what they’re doing.
Think of these four components as a mold to your relationships. They help you shape them and can be applied to all relationships, not just romantic ones. If you or someone you know is questioning their relationship’s health, take this quiz to start working towards healing.