The meaning of a healthy relationship differs from person to person, and from relationship to relationship. Relationship satisfaction, commitment, a shared bond with one’s partner, are just some of the many aspects of a healthy romantic relationship. In young adulthood, it is extremely crucial for individuals in a relationship to feel connected to each other, to be able to do things together, have shared interests, and so on.
It is also very important to emphasize here upon the subjectivity of the meaning of a healthy relationship. This implies that different couples have different needs in a relationship, and what may be a completely healthy relationship for one couple, may not be so for another. And it is important to stress upon this, because we often view other’s relationships’ from the lens of our own relationships, and we assume that some things are just not healthy and vice-versa.
Today’s article is simply going to highlight certain commonly found characteristics in romantic relationships among young adults, and these characteristics are largely viewed as healthy and positive indicators of a strong relationship. The aim is by no means to say that if your relationship doesn’t have these characteristics, then it’s not healthy but more so is directed toward saying that if you are not happy with your relationship, you can try to instill some of these attributes into your relationships.
So, what makes a relationship healthy? Here are some characteristics of a healthy relationship in young adulthood:
- Partners in a healthy relationship ‘Respect & Trust’ each other: These are two crucial virtues that need to be present in any relationship, irrespective of all other factors. If one cannot respect their partner, how can the foundation of a relationship be laid at all? Trust, is another essential ingredient of a relationship; if partners don’t trust each other there will always be that second-guessing, and blame game. Unfortunately, the lack of trust seems to be very evident in young relationships today. It would help if partners can talk to each other beforehand about what are their expectations from their partners, and share their own preferences from their partners, to avoid trust issues later on.
- Partners in a healthy relationship ‘Communicate’ with each other: If you have been following my column in this space, you shall be aware of my emphasis on communication within a relationship. So much pain can be saved and resolved by just talking & listening. Surprisingly, even though, most relationships begin with partners talking to each other all night long, gradually the conversations die down to mere text messages, and thus comes knocking in, all the misunderstandings and wrong interpretations of each other’s behaviors and words. One suggestion that I give to all young couples in therapy is, to “talk” more, and “text” less. A text message can never communicate one’s tone, emotions, and other aspects which lend a lot more weight to speech. Particularly in long-distance relationships, it’s always advisable to remove some time and talk to each other, rather than just correspond to text messages.
- Partners in a healthy relationship solve their problems together: Let’s be honest and accept that there always be problems in life, and challenges to be dealt with. In a healthy relationship, partners not only share their problems with each other but they also practice effective problem solving, exploring the various solutions, and taking decisions together. It’s not to say that there won’t be a difference in opinions, but it is how the partners get over those differences to arrive at a common conclusion, that makes the whole difference.
- In a healthy relationship, partners give each other space: Space in a relationship is for some reason, always viewed negatively. However, giving each other space in a relationship is a sign of secure attachment, trust and the acknowledgment that your partner is an individual first and may have liked/dislikes unrelated to you. In a healthy relationship, partners give space to each other, without feeling threatened or insecure.
In young adulthood, there could be many threats to maintaining a healthy relationship. In order to sustain the relationship and be happy in one, young adults need to invest time and effort in their relationships.