How do you define a healthy relationship?

I see so many people stuck and disappointed in their relationships. They go from one relationship to another, hoping the next one will be better, happier, and healthier but often after a few months, the same issues start to raise their ugly head and people start to feel resentful, neglected and disappointed that they made another big mistake.

Why are relationships so challenging and needing so much hard work? That's a question many of my clients ask. Although it is a very good question, they don't always like the answer. The truth is most people have no idea how to recognize a healthy relationship. Most people are so invested in finding someone who is interested and available that they may settle for the wrapping, before examine the package inside. Of course, we all know we want to be happy, treated well, have someone who is kind and thoughtful, but how many people settle for much less and end up in misery, feeling trapped or manipulated rather than living happily ever after?

Another problem is that often people don't pay attention to the red flags showing up earlier in the relationship. They know it is there but hope it will magically disappear if ignored. Usually it's the reverse that happens. The small red flags become bigger issues as time goes by. Most of us are attracted to a partner, who ends up having many similar characteristics, both good and bad, that also fits one or both of our parents. How many of us have parents living in healthy and loving relationships? Not too many, because they chose people like their parents, and the cycle continues.

If you want a healthy relationship, you have to break the cycle and not look for only what feels comfortable or sounds familiar. Just because it feels comfortable, just because that person seems interested, doesn't necessary mean that it is healthy or positive? You need to find out more and look further before committing to the relationship. If you find that you tend to attract the same person over and over again, one that is narcissistic, dishonest, controlling, angry, emotionally unavailable, dramatic or a manipulator, you need to understand and be more conscious of your patterns before you can break them.

Having challenges in a relationship doesn't necessarily mean it needs to end. Many issues can be negotiated and resolved, but they need to be addressed first.

Read this list and score how your relationship measures up.

How healthy is your relationship?

  1. Do you enjoy being with your partner, most of the time?
  2. Do you still laugh together?
  3. Can you make mistakes without feeling judged or criticized?
  4. Do you really like your partner as a friend?
  5. Is he/she supportive and understanding?
  6. Are you able to resolve conflicts calmly and move forward?
  7. Is there a willingness to see the other's point of view?
  8. Does your partner accept responsibility for his/her share of the problem?
  9. Is it safe to make mistakes or will it be used against at a later time?
  10. Do you feel that you are heard and valued?
  11. Do you still have fun together?
  12. When you think of the future, is your partner in the picture?
  13. Does your partner ever make you feel humiliated or invisible?
  14. Does your partner minimize your needs and concerns?
  15. Do you feel you are "walking on eggshells" in your relationship?
  16. Does your partner have your back?
  17. Do you have a healthy level of emotional and sexual intimacy in your relationship?

By answering these questions, you will know how your relationship is really doing. No relationship is perfect and no one is asking for perfection. If you believe that everyone deserves to feel respected, valued and safe in a relationship, but you are not feeling that you are receiving this care, then you do have choices. There are always choices.

Another simple way to assess your relationship is to pretend you are speaking to someone you feel very close to and who you adore. Pretend that person wanted to marry someone with the same personality and challenges that your partner possessed. What would be your advice?

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