How to have a healthy relationship
Are you in a healthy relationship? Are you looking for the right things in a partner – and would you know if you found them? Many people spend so much time looking for that “spark” or that feeling that they’ve found “the one” that they forget to examine whether the relationship is good for them. You must take a step back and learn how to have a healthy relationship before you can find true fulfillment and happiness with another person.
When you start thinking about how to have a healthy relationship, don’t immediately zero in on what the other person is like or what they 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 it probably has many – if not all – of the characteristics of healthy relationships.
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What is a healthy relationship?
Relationships aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are many qualities and factors behind the emotions and actions that make up healthy relationships. Yet no matter who you love, how you met or the history you have together, healthy relationships do have certain core traits. A healthy relationship is one in which you feel valued, trusted and respected – period. Ask yourself if your relationship has these qualities:
Communicating with your partner sounds easy, but it means more than just talking about your day. Real communication leads to an emotional connection you can’t get anywhere else.
This is an essential part of communication. Healthy relationships involve two people who are completely honest about how they feel and what they’re thinking – with themselves and each other.
When you’re open and honest in a relationship, vulnerability naturally follows. If you don’t trust your partner to support you no matter what, you’re not in a healthy relationship.
If you’re not growing, you’re dying – and that includes your relationships. When you commit to constant and never-ending improvement, you’ll take your romance to levels you never thought possible.
Intimacy is more than sex. It’s cuddling in bed on Sundays or holding hands on a walk. It’s emotional closeness and trust. And it’s ultimately what separates romance from friendship.
All truly extraordinary love affairs share one thing: they are the result of total commitment. They aren’t always easy, but they are always worth it.
What are some relationship red flags?
It would be ideal if we were all able to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship. The truth is that it can be hard to let go of someone we love. We focus on the good and refuse to see what’s often obvious to everyone else: the relationship is unhealthy. If you’re wondering, “What is a healthy relationship?,” it may be time to look for these red flags:
- Criticism: There’s a difference between honesty and criticism. When your partner is being honest, you’ll still feel respected and valued because their feedback is constructive. Criticism is often about small things, like your clothes or favorite pastimes, and makes you feel belittled.
- Controlling behavior: If your partner pressures you to change your appearance, quit activities you love or stop seeing friends or family, those are big red flags. Pushing you to share every thought or detail of your day or always needing to be with you are more subtle signs of controlling behavior.
- Distance: Healthy relationships are both emotionally and physically close. If you or your partner is no longer interested in intimacy or one of you is holding back your thoughts and feelings, it’s time to rekindle the passion.
- Lack of conflict resolution: Sometimes it’s best to defuse arguments over minor things. But if you’re always burying conflict – or constantly arguing without seeing any improvement – your communication skills may be lacking.
Certain relationship red flags, like physical or emotional abuse, are always signs that you must leave the relationship immediately. Otherwise, healthy relationships can often be rekindled with the commitment and dedication of both partners.
How to have a healthy relationship
You can work on building fundamental relationship skills, whether you’ve been in a relationship for a week or a decade. Developing positive 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.
1. Love yourself first
Have you ever heard the expression “like attracts like”? This is the law of attraction – the idea that we attract the things that we focus on and surround ourselves with – and it applies to relationships and to life. If you embrace positive thinking, live with passion and are kind and accepting of yourself and others, you’ll attract people who do the same.
Learning self-love isn’t always easy. You’ll need to identify and overcome your limiting beliefs and rewrite your story to give you strength and confidence. But if you’re wondering how to have a healthy relationship, it’s a vital first step.
2. Raise your standards
You must hold yourself to high standards if you want a healthy relationship. 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 must hold for yourself as well. 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.
3. Meet your partner's core needs
What is a healthy relationship? It’s 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, this 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?
4. Communicate effectively
Healthy relationships depend on effective communication. You don’t need to be a mind reader to know what your partner wants – odds are they’ve told you. 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.
5. Grow together
What if the road ahead is tough and full of challenges? As Tony says, “Every problem is a gift, without problems we would not grow.” Problems, obstacles and misalignments are opportunities to push forward and grow together with your partner.
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.
6. Appreciate your differences
You don’t 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 must 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.
7. Develop trust
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?
8. Be honest
When thinking about how to have a healthy relationship, honesty is key – including being honest with yourself. 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.
9. Redefine intimacy
Intimacy isn’t just physical, and it isn’t always about “big moments.” Real intimacy is about the smaller everyday moments. It’s sitting next to one another on the couch watching your favorite movie for the tenth time. It’s making your partner’s favorite meal without them asking you to.
If you find yourself struggling in your efforts to connect, keep pushing. Discovering how to keep a healthy relationship means keeping the spark alive – but it takes work. 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.
10. Discover the power of polarity
Polarity is the attraction between opposite energies. Masculine energy is about commitment, certainty and purpose, whereas feminine energy is associated with vulnerability, spontaneity and provocative play. Healthy relationships, no matter the physical genders of the partners, need to have a partner with masculine energy and one with feminine energy.
To achieve lasting passion with your partner, you need to explore your polarity. It was this polarity that attracted you to each other, and it is this powerful interplay that can maintain passion between you. Discover your leading energy by taking our polarity assessment and reconnect with yourself and your partner today.
11. Align your values
Differences in energy aren’t the only kind. Even healthy relationships can encounter disagreements about values and long-term goals. A successful relationship will use these 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? Misalignments in these areas can produce friction, but they are also opportunities to evolve the relationship to a new level of passion, intimacy and connection.
12. Shift your focus
If you plan to travel the swerving, obstacle-ridden road toward a healthy 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. Will you focus on the negatives, or will you put your energy toward solutions?
Choose to focus on solutions, and you’ll be able to work through issues and celebrate the ways your differences enrich your life together. You’ll begin seeing your differences not as a problem or source of pain, but as a source of pleasure and excitement.
13. Keep it going
You’ve worked on how to have a healthy relationship and reached a satisfied place. Now you move forward, leading by example and always nurturing a healthy, loving connection.
You always have choices, no matter what life throws your way. You can experience pain and suffering and punish yourself and your partner with it, or you can take what comes, process it, learn from the experience and figure out how to apply that lesson to your life. So what is a healthy relationship? The bottom line is that a healthy relationship is something you must nurture and maintain, no matter how long you and your partner are together. Remember what Tony says: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Experiment, add variation and create a healthy relationship filled with energy and passion – and remember to have fun!
Want to learn how to keep a healthy relationship?
Download Tony Robbins’ Ultimate Relationship Guide today to learn the 9 keys to passion and intimacy.