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What is a healthy relationship?

News by , , Comments: 0, English
Updated: 07-23-2021 16:56
Let’s say you find the love of your life via the dating site Funky Fish. Obviously, you would like to build a healthy relationship with each other. But what does a healthy relationship actually entail?

First of all, it's good to realise that no relationship is 100 percent feasible. You cannot control love or your partner. What you can do is train yourself in the art of loving. A healthy relationship is based on knowledge (knowing what love is) and behaviour (putting love into practice).

Research shows that most relationships fail because of:
  • romanticising too much: thinking that a relationship has to be fun and exciting 24/7 and that love is mainly a feeling (feeling gone = relationship over
  • no acceptance of the partner's being different.
  • insufficient focus on the importance of friendship as the basis for intimacy
  • a lack of personal commitment to maintaining the relationship

So, for a healthy relationship it is essential to:
  • have realistic expectations: realise that annoyances and daily grind are also part of a relationship and that love does not always coincide with feelingsaccept the other as he/she is
  • strengthen your friendship with each other
  • make an effort to maintain and improve the relationship

Let us discuss some characteristics of healthy relationships that address these aspects.

Daily maintenance and habit formation
A relationship needs daily maintenance, in the form of an open, constructive and willing attitude towards each other. In addition, habit forming is important. Repetition leads to the formation of ingrained patterns and positive patterns are healthy for your relationship. All the things that you both enjoy qualify for habit formation: from cooking together to playing sports together or taking a walk in the woods.

Mutual similarities
The more similarities you have with the other person, the less reason there is for conflicts and friction. These are similarities in terms of background, personality, norms and values, philosophy of life, social status, intelligence, interests, humour and political affiliation. Partners who are similar in these respects understand each other better, which strengthens their sense of security and belonging.

Empathy and understanding
Mutual understanding is one of the foundations of your relationship. It is the basis for a fair and equal relationship. Empathy the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. When you show empathy, the other person feels understood, valued, respected and seen. For empathy to work, it is necessary to constantly attune your feelings and thoughts to each other.

Openness and honesty
Openness about feelings and thoughts is one of the best predictors of long-term relationship quality. Honest, open and sincere people look at themselves and others in a realistic way. They’re open to feedback and do not behave in an offensive way. When confronted or arguing, they investigate their own part and truth, rather than launching a counter-attack. They don’t keep secrets from their partners.

Attention and affection
Showing genuine interest in your partner's thinking and living environment has a positive effect on your relationship. Mindful attention confirms that you see and hear the other person. Your partner smiles at you and you smile back. Your partner shows you something and you look at it with interest. Your partner says something and you respond to it. Another important way of giving attention is showing affection: give your partner a hug or a kiss on a regular basis.

Support and sympathy
Supporting each other improves the quality of the relationship: a joy shared is a joy doubled, and a trouble shared is a trouble halved. Being compassionate is especially important when there are positive developments or getting good news, such as a success at work or a positive result from a medical examination. A neutral reaction can give the impression that you are indifferent. And too much attention to negative events damages the relationship.

Good communication
In a healthy relationship, it's safe to express your feelings and thoughts. To do this, use “I sentences” instead of “you-sentences”. You-sentences are usually resentments to the other person, for example "You never take me seriously! This is an aggressive rather than an assertive approach. Your partner may clam up, be in denial or counterattack. It is better to use 'I' phrases, such as 'I often feel that you don't take me seriously'.

Common challenges
You can’t escape routine in a relationship. That is why it is important to accept that everyday duties are just part of life. It's also good to consciously break the routine once in a while. Happy couples keep their relationship alive by surprising each other every now and then or by doing something new together. A short change of circumstances can do wonders because it strengthens mutual commitment and attraction. A shared exciting experience stimulates feelings of infatuation and rekindles the romance. You create a new memory together and that’s positive for your relationship.

Source: “Het geheim van duurzame relaties” by Gert Jan Kloens and Grethe van Duijn.
Friendship and lasting love Pixabay ©
Friendship and lasting love
Writing an inviting dating profile  Pixabay ©
Writing an inviting dating profile
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MakeMyDate - How can I get more response to my profile?