With Valentine’s Day around the corner, you may be thinking about love and the quality of your relationship a lot this month.
Of course, no relationship is perfect. It’s natural to go through ups and downs, have arguments and sometimes feel like you don’t even know why you’re with the person you’re with. These emotions and thoughts are not necessarily a sign that your love is doomed. But when you have doubts, don’t ignore them. Pay attention to your gut and really evaluate whether your relationship is healthy or not.
In short, it’s straightforward: A healthy relationship should generally make you feel good about yourself and the other person.
Think about the positive, loving and happy relationships in your life (with friends or family). What are the traits these have in common? Then, consider your romantic relationship. Does it have these qualities?
6 Signs of a Healthy Relationship
Below are some of the common signs of a healthy relationship and some questions you should ask yourself:
- Do you listen to each other and value one another’s opinions?
- Do you support each other’s achievements and have each other’s backs?
- Are you comfortable setting boundaries (about touch, intimacy, etc.) and respecting each other’s boundaries?
- Are you able to take responsibility for mistakes in the relationship and apologize to each other?
- Do you treat one another with love?
- Are you patient with each other and willing to compromise?
- Do you express positive and supportive feeling toward each other?
- Are you affectionate toward one another?
- Can you talk about your feelings with each other?
- Do you listen to each other respectfully, without judgment?
- Are you honest with one another?
- Can you agree to disagree? (Conflict is not bad if you can argue respectfully.)
- Do you feel confident that your partner is not going to do something to intentionally hurt you?
- Is it easy for you to trust your partner and not have to question their motives or intentions?
- Do you respect each other’s privacy without fear or suspicion?
- Does your relationship feel balanced?
- Do you both have equal say?
- Are your feelings, wishes and needs as important as your partner’s?
- Are you both putting the same amount of effort into your relationship?
- Do you feel comfortable spending time away from each other, doing your own thing?
- Are you able to keep up with your friendships and hang out with family when you want to?
- Do you ever feel like your relationship is overwhelming or suffocating?
- Do you enjoy each other’s company?
- Are you able to be yourself and laugh together?
- Does spending time together cheer you up?
Because relationships are always evolving, it’s often difficult to see that your relationship may no longer be healthy. Sometimes qualities that seemed exciting or romantic at the start – like spending all your time together, extreme emotions, jealousy, etc. – are not healthy in the long run, especially if they continue and build.
Some common red flags to look out for are:
- Intensity to the point that you feel overwhelmed by your partners extreme feelings.
- Constant drama, fighting and volatility.
- Possessiveness to the point where your partner is isolating you from your loved ones and support system.
- Extreme jealousy
- Belittling behaviors that make you feel bad about yourself (always making you the butt of the joke, for example.)
- You usually feel unhappy, guilty, upset or bad about yourself and your partner after spending time together.
In her 2019 TED talk, relationship expert Katie Hood, CEO of the One Love Foundation, talks about the importance of paying attention to these red flags.
One in three women and one in four men experience abuse in their relationship and, according to Hood, the warning signs of danger are usually there long before the relationship turns violent.
“Abuse sneaks up on us disguised in unhealthy love,” she said.
Watch her entire talk here for valuable insights about what makes a relationship healthy, unhealthy or dangerous.
If you think you are at risk for abuse, your instinct may be to break up and leave. But this can put you in even greater danger. Instead, reach out and consult with your parents, a mental health professional or other experts to get help with leaving the relationship safely.
Get help by:
Calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Contacting the Love is Respect organization (1-866-331-9474) to confidentially talk, chat or text with a peer advocate.