Healthy Relationships

Having a healthy relationship includes a number of characteristics. A key ingredient is feeling good enough about yourself so that you are not dumping bad feelings about yourself onto the other person. Strong relationships can weather some fluctuation in one’s self esteem but if it is chronic it can wear on the relationship. In a healthy relationship people accept each other as they are except if they are destructive or self destructive. Accepting oneself and your own shortcomings helps you to accept someone else’s flaws.

Talking is a key ingredient in good relationships. Allowing time for talking but more importantly really communicating is essential. Merely setting aside an hour here or there but neither one feels the other person got the point is obviously not enough. Really listening, asking questions and being able to give the other person your take on what was said is helpful i.e. “Ok so this was not the part that bothered you the most it was such and such”. Rating things on a scale of one to ten can be helpful too. This is very important to me, a nine or ten. Or I would have preferred that we had done this at a different time, a three or four. Obviously it is not fair for everything to be a 10.

Healthy relationships allow for growth of both people and are more flexible. Circumstances in your lives also present changes that need to be adapted to. Being able to take care of you as well as considering the other person is crucial. You are just as important as someone else, not less important. In fact too much focus on pleasing someone else and neglecting yourself sabotages the relationship. Being able to argue without attacking each other is important. Keep the focus on the problem, not berating the other person. A general tool for doing this is using “I statements”, i.e. “I felt ignored” vs. “you are a deaf idiot”. “You statements” tend to be more attacking and promote the other to attack back in self defense. Neither gets a picture of the other person’s experience, they only respond to defend themselves.

Another aspect of a healthy relationship is keeping a balanced life. Don’t expect the relationship to satisfy all your needs. Don’t become totally dependent on the other person for your happiness. The relationship can be a source of much happiness but not the only source.

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© Patricia McKee M.A.

Patricia McKee M.A.

University Village Area, Seattle, WA