What makes a healthy relationship?

What does your ideal relationship look like? What are your needs? What values would your ideal relationship embrace?

When you start thinking about how to have a healthy relationship, don’t immediately zero in on what the other person should be like or what they should do for you. Instead, focus on the relationship itself and what the interplay between the two of you looks like. Which special characteristics does this relationship have? What brings you and your partner together? Close your eyes and imagine how happy you and your partner make each other. Envision feeling completely fulfilled and loved by another person. How does that feel? More importantly, why does it feel that way?

Ask yourself what it is that makes this potential relationship so extraordinary. Can you put it into words? You might not immediately be able to say what makes it feel so special, but on a fundamental level, it is a healthy relationship.

what is a healthy relationship two penguins touching beaks

what is a healthy relationship man and women kissing under sunset

But what is a healthy relationship? There are so many qualities and factors behind the emotions and actions that make up healthy relationships. But all truly extraordinary love affairs share one thing: they are the result of commitment to the ongoing mastery of fundamental relationship skills.

Daily practice of these skills is a must. Developing the habits and patterns to create and maintain an extraordinary relationship requires conscious application and repetition of good behavior and communication. Once these habits have been established between you and your partner, the beautiful, passionate and healthy relationship you deserve will follow and endure.

Meet your partner's core needs

The strength and health of your relationship depend on the communication abilities of you and your partner. If your expectations are low and you’re not putting in the effort to grow with your partner, the result will be a stale and deteriorating relationship. What is it that you truly want from your relationship? What are the standards you’d hold for your dream partner? What do you expect from your partner, physically and emotionally? Whatever it is, that’s the bar that you should hold for yourself, and your relationship, too. You are an active participant in this relationship; the way you want them to show up for you is the way you must show up for them.

what is a healthy relationship quote overlay with smiling couple

What does a healthy relationship look like? It looks like two people making each other’s needs their own. The more you do this, the more fulfilling the relationship becomes. What are your partner’s core needs? Comfort? Security? Significance? How do they want these needs met? Through touch, words or something else?

Cultivate the skill of heartfelt understanding. Going beyond just knowing what your partner needs at an intellectual level, heartfelt understanding means connecting at a deeper emotional level and empathetically standing in their shoes. Is your partner your number one priority? What would you give for the love of your life? At the same time, are you feeling personally fulfilled by the relationship?

Develop the relationship you deserve

As you think about what makes a healthy relationship, remember that understanding your partner’s needs involves communicating effectively with them. You don’t need to be a mind reader to know what your partner wants – odds are they’ve told you. But communicating in a healthy relationship means listening. Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about what you can do for the person you love.

Once you know what your needs are, and your partner’s, you can actively work to make sure they’re being met. What would you do for the love of your life? Anything, right? Meeting your significant other’s core needs will take you to profound levels of happiness, love, passion and trust.

What if the road ahead is tough and full of challenges? Problems, obstacles and misalignments are opportunities to push forward and grow. You’ve heard of the phrase, “He/she got too comfortable.” If you’re completely comfortable in your relationship, you probably aren’t growing or changing. Lack of growth is better known as stagnation, which can lead to deterioration when it comes to a relationship. Growth is a product of uncertainty and an act of pushing into uncharted territory. Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, so don’t let fear hold your relationship – or you – back.

None of this means that you need to ignore or play down the differences between you and your partner. On the contrary, appreciating your differences is essential to maintaining a sense of excitement in the relationship. Those little differences are what awakened your interest in each other in the first place, and this is something that you should always keep close to your hearts and minds. Appreciate each other and you will not only appreciate the life you have created together – you’ll revel in it.

Trust yourself - and your partner

Trust is the foundation of all productive and healthy relationships. From trust springs respect, and both are necessary for sharing, interaction and growth. And it’s during times of stress and uncertainty, when your mutual commitment can be subject to doubt, that you truly discover how much – or how little – you trust one another. Can your partner trust you to be there for them, even when you’re stressed or uncertain? Can your partner trust you to be honest and clear with them, even when you feel like what you have to say might wound them? Do they trust that you will meet their needs?

what is a healthy relationsip man and woman holding hands

what is a healthy relationship male climbing mountains

Trust starts with you. Are you true to yourself? No one can trust you if you don’t trust yourself enough to express your natural essence and personality. Reclaim and embrace the pieces of yourself you may have suppressed. Once you’re comfortable expressing and loving yourself, you will inspire confidence in your partner and the flow of trust between you can blossom from there.

When thinking about how to have a healthy relationship, know that being true to – and confident in – yourself is a vital element in forward-looking conflict resolution in your relationship. It’s important to be honest and courageous when you face disappointment, pain and surprise. The most passionate romances have moments of sadness. Don’t avoid conflicts when they come. Face them honestly and fearlessly, knowing that you and your partner are up to any challenge.

Practice full engagement with an open heart every day. You already know that intimacy isn’t just physical, but consider that it isn’t just about big, serious, capital R “Relationship Moments” either. Intimacy is also about the smaller everyday moments, where you and your partner enjoy playful, honest exchanges that are easy to take for granted. It’s sitting next to one another on the couch watching your favorite movie for the 10th time. It’s making your partner’s favorite meal without them asking you to. If you achieve this level of joy and connection in your relationship, you will guard it faithfully against any assault.

If you find yourself struggling in your efforts to connect, keep pushing. A magnificent, passionate relationship takes work. Practice the discipline of truth and free expression when you experience hurt in your relationship. Learn to communicate your thoughts and emotions in the moment so you can address these issues and avoid seeding resentment that will otherwise emerge later in the relationship.

what is a health relationship couple kissing and smiling

The power of polarity

The power of polarity is key to a strong, healthy relationship.

Polarity, or the attraction between opposite energies, is rooted in the dance between masculine and feminine energy – which, despite their names, aren’t necessarily associated with your gender. Masculine energy is about commitment, certainty and purpose, whereas feminine energy is associated with vulnerability, spontaneity and provocative play. A healthy relationship, no matter the physical genders of the people in it, needs to have a partner with masculine energy and one with female energy.

Why does polarity matter? When you’re true to your authentic self and your authentic energy, you can meet the needs that your partner can’t meet themselves.

Experiment and take some risks in your intimate play with your partner, exploring the full range of your polarity together. To achieve lasting passion with your partner, you simply need to identify, embrace and exploit the natural play of differences that exist between you. It was this polarity that attracted you to each other when you first met, and it is this powerful interplay that can maintain passion between you over the long haul.

Discover your leading energy by taking our polarity assessment and reconnect with yourself and your partner today.

Align your values

True compatibility is a mystery to many of us, especially when our relationships are in trouble. Are we just too different? Or is conflict a chance to rediscover our common, true selves? Note that the concept of polarity implies that compatible partners will be different in a fundamental sense. But differences in energy aren’t the only kind. There can be disagreements on values and long-term goals, and these can spark conflict. Never disagreeing with your partner isn’t part of what makes a healthy relationship; it’s how you handle these disagreements that forges your future as a couple. A successful relationship will use difficult situations as a chance to re-align and grow, instead of using them as an excuse to break down.

What are your values and goals, or outcomes? Are the communication patterns and goals of your partner compatible with your own? The answers to these questions aren’t always straightforward and you shouldn’t expect them to be. The answers might take a long time to surface. Misalignments produce frictions, and these are opportunities to evolve the relationship to a new level of passion, intimacy and connection.

If you plan to travel the swerving, obstacle-ridden road of your relationship, you need to be clear to yourself about the outcome you want; once you achieve clarity and commitment, you have focus. Where focus goes, energy flows. Now you can practice the skill of alignment, identifying and celebrating your differences so you can appreciate the ways these differences enrich your life together. You are moving toward seeing your differences not as a problem or source of pain, but as a source of pleasure and excitement.

Now what?

You’ve learned how to meet each other’s needs and build trust. You’ve embraced the power of polarity and you celebrate your differences as opportunities for growth, instead of reasons to incite conflict. Now you move forward, leading by example and constructing a healthy, loving connection.

You always have choices, no matter what life throws your way. You can experience pain, suffering and punish yourself and your partner with it, or you can take what has come, process it, learn from the experience and figure out how to apply that lesson to your life. Don’t let fear control or shackle you; use fear to propel you, to push you toward greater heights.

A healthy relationship is something you must nurture and maintain, no matter how long you and your partner are together. You can’t just forget about it or let it coast. Your relationship should always be growing and evolving, because if it’s stagnating, it’s dying. Experiment, try to add variation and fill your relationship with energy and passion – and remember to have fun!

Back to the Ultimate Relationship Guide.