What’s your idea of a great relationship? Do you think of an intense romance complete with dramatic gestures, like this one? Watch here...
Do you fantasize about finding a preordained “soulmate”? Watch here...
Maybe you know two people who you think of as “the perfect couple” and wish you could have what they appear to have.Watch here...
But what’s the actual reality of “true love” and strong relationships? This can be especially hard to know when you’re younger and less experienced—though plenty of adults don’t have it figured out either. After all, we often see romantic love portrayed in unrealistic or confusing ways.
In real life, good relationships with strong foundations generally share many basic features. While you may not have thought about these qualities before, you might recognize that couples you admire live and breathe them!
So what behaviors are we talking about? In a healthy relationship, couples…
- Communicate openly.
Can you talk to each other about tough issues and share your real feelings?
- Are happy for their partners when they succeed.
If one of you does a great job on something or gets good news, does your partner share in your excitement?
- Respect each others’ limits and boundaries.
If one of you asks the other not to do something, or if someone is unavailable, does your partner respect that?
- Encourage each other to spend time with other loved ones.
When someone chooses to hang out with friends or be with family, is the other partner supportive?
- Disagree constructively.
When there’s a problem, can you work things through without screaming, name-calling, threats, or emotional or physical violence?
- Have a good time together doing activities they enjoy.
Do the two of you spend quality time with one another having fun in light-hearted ways?
- Don’t try to control or manipulate each other.
Does anyone say things like, “If you loved me, you wouldn’t..” or try to forbid the other person from doing certain things or seeing certain people? (If so, that’s a danger sign!)
- Express love, admiration, and affection to each other.
Do you frequently compliment each other and say loving and positive things to one another?
- Trust each other.
Do either of you tend to get jealous and upset about the other person talking to or spending time with other people? (Red flag!)
- Support each others’ interests and aspirations.
Do you know what your partner’s hopes and dreams are? Do you support one another as you pursue your own interests and goals?
- Can rely on each other in times of need.
If one of you needs help or support, will the other person be there for them, even when it may be difficult?
- Feel safe with each other.
Do you feel physically and emotionally at ease with each other, knowing that there is no danger?
- Encourage each other to succeed and do well.
Do both of you encourage each other to meet goals and achieve in school, work, and other pursuits?
Of course, not every good relationship will have all these strengths at all times, but that’s usually okay (unless there is abuse). Remember, though, all of us deserve to experience a partnership that embodies most of these qualities. Though it may take time, effort, and patience, it’s definitely worth it.
By Carol Church, lead writer, SMART Couples, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Girlshealth.gov. (2015). Healthy relationships. Retrieved from http://www.girlshealth.gov/relationships/healthy/index.html
Harris, V. W. What is a healthy dating or marriage relationship? (2013). Retrieved from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1361
Healthychildren.org. (2015). Expect respect: Healthy relationships. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/dating-sex/Pages/Expect-Respect-Healthy-Relationships.aspx
Loveisrespect.org. (2013). Dating basics: What should I look for in a partner? Retrieved from http://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/what-should-i-look-for-in-partner/
TeensHealth. Am I in a healthy relationship? (2016). Retrieved from http://teenshealth.org/teen/your_mind/relationships/healthy_relationship.html