Now more than ever, we are looking for it all from our partner – a friend, lover, companion, confidant, co-parent, and partner in crime. We no longer enter into relationships out of necessity to procreate or get a dowry. Today’s healthy relationship is about amplifying what might be possible in our lives. However, determining if you are in a healthy relationship requires one to gauge it by today’s standards, not by the metrics of old relationship benchmarks.
Here are five ways to know if you are in a healthy intimate relationship, and what to do if you’re not.
1. You Fight Well
The old measure of assessing a healthy relationship was the absence of fights. A couple who got along and were more affectionate than combative were seen as having a healthy relationship. However, in today’s healthy relationship, it is essential to know how to work through conflicts to achieve greater harmony.
Just like a muscle that gets stronger after tearing and repairing during a workout, a relationship gets more robust when the couple works through a disagreement. Many couples do not have an effective repair mechanism after a fight. While some sweep their issues under the rug, others do not know how to find solutions to disagreements.
A couple that can fully resolve a conflict and find new solutions to their disagreements is in a healthy relationship.
What to do if not?
If you are in a relationship where you sweep problems under the rug, it can be helpful to work with your partner to find new ways of making up after a fight. You can start by discussing what you each saw in your families growing up. How were fights and makeups handled there? What would you each want to resolve arguments to strengthen your relationship?
2. Your Sex is Relaxing
Couples in the modern world have much going on in their lives. They do not need sex to be another task; instead, it needs to be something that nourishes and relaxes them. Couples often rate the health of their sex life by measuring how passionate it is. They assume that they need wild, hot sex to demonstrate the strength of their love life. However, you do not need to swing from the rafters or have kinky sex in dangerous locations to strengthen your relationship.
While it is beneficial to have intensity and intimacy in your love life, most couples benefit more from a sex life that is relaxing and affirmative. A healthy sex life today causes both people to be more relaxed, open, and connected. Couples are often concerned about how often they have sex and what a normal frequency is for married couples. Recent research shows that married couples who have sex once a week are happiest.
You do not need sex every night but make it something loving and connected.
What to do if not?
If sex in your relationship is not relaxing, then it can be helpful to talk with your partner about what would make it so. You can turn the dialogue into something that will bring more honesty and connection into the bedroom.
3. That Little Voice Inside Your Head is Quiet
People used to judge their relationships based on outward similar values or enjoying the same activities together. However, in today’s healthy relationships, each person has to experience an inner feeling of knowing that they are with the right person. It is an inner felt sense that you are where you are supposed to be.
While nothing guarantees one hundred percent certainty when it comes to love and relationships, being in a healthy relationship ensures that the little voice inside your head is not questioning every little thing that happens. When you are in a healthy relationship, you feel confident about your relationship’s solidity.
It is not healthy if you interpret your partner’s behavior and worry all the time about the state of your relationship. You keep evaluating what sort of future you might have with the other person, causing excess psychic stress.
What to do if not?
If the inner chatter is there, and you are worrying whether you are with the right person, or if the relationship is heading in the right direction, it can be helpful to get those thoughts out of your head and make them speakable. You can start by talking to a trusted friend or a well-trained counselor to talk through and make sense of what you want from the relationship. It can sometimes be healing to hear your thoughts spoken out loud, rather than rattling around in your head. When the timing feels right, you can talk with your partner and share your thoughts, to feel more confident in what you have together.
4. It’s Easy to Cry
The old way of defining a healthy relationship was one where the couple communicated well. However, with modern couples, the better way to define health is that it is easy to be emotional with each other. Can you cry, laugh, scream, sulk, and worry openly with each other?
While most couples know how to do the mechanics of talking and hearing each other, the problem is really how to manage emotions when they relate. When couples become emotionally flooded or triggered, they describe becoming overwhelmed with emotion and then shutting down their ability to connect and communicate.
If you are in a relationship where you have access to one another’s internal lives and can share your emotions freely, then you are in good shape. If your relationship is one in which you hold emotions within you, then you might need to work to develop your emotional intelligence. However, if you and your partner shut down or have big blow ups when strong feelings are involved, then you might have to do some deeper work to become more connected.
What to do if not?
The three steps involved in this sort of connection are being in tune with your feelings, naming them, and then communicating them. The feelings exist in the body, so you would need to be in touch with your body to feel what is there. Then give a name to what that feeling is.
Once you have named it, you can inform your partner. For example, if you feel unsettled in your belly, you can name that as anxiety. Then you can tell your partner, “I’m feeling anxious about my presentation this afternoon.” Being able to articulate thoughts and feelings can go a long way towards healthy relating.
5. You Become More Accountable
Most people rate their relationships on how they make them feel. The old way of judging if you have a healthy relationship is that it makes you feel good. However, in a healthy relationship, you become more accountable, both for yourself and your partner.
In a healthy relationship, you hold yourself accountable for your own growth, while your partner supports and enhances that growth. You become more responsible for your actions, and the relationship promotes personal responsibility and accountability.
What to do if not?
If your relationship does not encourage personal responsibility and accountability, then it is helpful to work on fostering an environment where both partners can grow together. Gradually, start by talking about goals and plans for the future, whether individually or as a couple. Encourage each other to take risks and be accountable, while also offering support when things do not go as planned.
Today’s healthy relationships are about amplifying what might be possible in our lives, and there are five ways to know if you are in a healthy intimate relationship. You can fight well, and the absence of fights is not essential. Your sex life needs to be relaxing and affirmative, not always wild and passionate. That little inner voice inside your head should be quiet, showing confidence in your relationship’s solidity, while being honest and expressive about your emotions is crucial. Lastly, you become more accountable for yourself and your partner, promoting personal growth and responsibility.
If you are not in a healthy relationship, you can use these tips and suggestions to work together with your partner to make your relationship stronger.