Have you ever heard of the term, “inner circle”? When we speak of this, we’re usually talking about our closest relationships. Those people in our lives who are most important to us, and who are usually our most trusted confidants. Something that we usually don’t think of, however, is our middle circle, outer circle, and beyond, and what it is that blocks those relationships from entering our inner circle. There are key components to maintaining healthy, close relationships, and these components are usually what separates your middle circle from your inner circle. In today’s blog post, we’re going to talk about 4 signs of a healthy relationship! It’s important to note that although these are very important aspects of relationships, all relationships whether friendly, familial, or intimate, look different, and you shouldn’t compare your relationship to someone else’s. With that in mind, let’s dive in!
Sign #1: You Trust Them
One of the most obvious signs of a healthy relationship is feeling a deep sense of trust with this person. When you feel this deep sense of trust with someone, it can leave you feeling extremely safe around them. You feel safe, confident, and comfortable to be yourself, speak your mind, free from fears of being hurt by them. You trust they won’t cross your boundaries if they are set, or question your emotions if you’re trying to discuss your feelings with them. This is a very important part of any relationship because it means you can allow yourself to be vulnerable with this person, which dismantles any walls you might otherwise put up or any defense mechanisms you might use. For an example of this sign, we’ll use a romantic relationship: you and your partner got into an argument a few hours ago, and after cooling down you’d like to revisit the argument with a clear mind to discuss your feelings. If you trusted this person, you would not be afraid to do so because you’d be confident in receiving a comforting, understanding response from them. If you did not trust your partner, you’d likely feel nervous approaching the conversation with them, perhaps you’d even avoid it all together and push your feelings aside, for fear of getting into another argument with them or receiving a poor reaction. This fear-driven avoidant behaviour is likely the result of lacking trust.
Sign #2: You Support Them, And Feel Supported By Them
The second sign of a healthy relationship is feeling supportive of your partner, and receiving support in return. Supporting your partner doesn’t necessarily mean you completely agree with every decision they make, or everything they say, because being two different people, that may not always be true. However, it does mean you’re helping your partner feel supported by you and you’re feeling supported in return. Support is shown through many common positive relationship behaviours including: active listening, setting boundaries and respecting boundaries (i.e. giving your partner space when they say they feel they need alone time), checking in with your partner to see how they’re feeling, and showing them affection. Since being supportive includes so many different behaviours, it’s a complex but extremely important part of creating stability in your relationship and healthy patterns. Successfully being/having a supportive partner will help both of you to boost your self esteem, and improve your mental health.
Sign #3: Open Communication
The third sign is something people often talk about when speaking on healthy relationships and good relationship habits. Open communication is a facet of relationships that impacts all other aspects. Without open communication, there is no trust; without open communication, there is no feeling of support. It truly impacts the entire relationship, whether that relationship is romantic, platonic, or even professional. When people speak about open communication, it can often sound vague and hard to imagine. You may be asking yourself: how do I know if my partner and I are engaging in open communication? What does that even mean?! Well, don’t worry. We’ll break it down for you in a way that makes sense!
Open communication means you are able to voice your feelings, whether positive or negative, in an open, honest, respectful way without feeling judged or criticized by your partner and that they are able to do so in return.
Sign #4: Resolving Arguments and Recovering from Conflict
When you are speaking to your partner, think about how it makes you feel. Do you feel heard, understood, responded to with empathy, and comfortable to speak openly? Or do you feel interrupted, ignored, looked over, unheard, or judged. If you feel anything from the second list, this may be a sign communication is lacking in your relationship.
Of course we all have private thoughts and feelings that we may want to keep to ourselves, but an important part of open communication in healthy relationships is feeling like you would be able to share anything with your partner.
No matter how trustworthy, supportive, or communicative your partner is, it is completely normal to find yourself in conflict or facing an argument with each other. If you are facing conflict in a relationship, specifically verbal arguments, it’s often normal to think your relationship is the only one that goes through these hardships; but we’re here to tell you that that is simply not the case! Disagreements are not a bad or abnormal thing, because it simply means you and your partner have different opinions or feelings towards something, which is bound to happen no matter how close or similar you are. What is truly important in healthy relationships, however, is ensuring that when conflict arises you are able to work through the argument and recover in a healthy way. Ideally, you would walk away from the argument understanding your partner's perspective more, and feeling like your relationship has grown stronger.
In order to resolve your arguments in a productive way, there are a few key things you can do! The first is ensuring you feel you’re being treated with respect. This means you must establish some boundaries for the verbal argument (for example, a very common boundary would be no swearing or name-calling). This ensures that your partner is speaking to you in a way you’re more likely to understand. Once you feel you’re able to speak to each other in a respectful way, try and work together to find the root of the argument. Are you arguing because the house is dirty? Or are you arguing because you feel your home chores and effort are not divided equally? Finding the real issue will help you work towards a more firm resolution, and hopefully avoid having the same argument in the future. Next, sometimes it’s best to learn when to walk away from the argument. If it is clear the issue will not be resolved and you won’t see eye to eye, try to walk away from the conversation by agreeing to disagree! It’s important to note, however, that agreeing to disagree should only be your resolution if you do not feel like the root of the argument is too important to you.
Sometimes navigating conflict can be extremely difficult, and if conflict seems to make a regular appearance in your relationship, it may be a sign there is a lack of trust or communication. In these circumstances, there are certainly ways you can overcome it on your own, but it may be beneficial to look into couples counseling to address your communication barriers in an effective, neutral space.
With these signs and all the other key markers of a healthy relationship, it’s important to keep in mind that not all of us are able to express these behaviours naturally. Depending on your life experiences, how you were raised, and what previous relationships have impacted your life, it may be more or less difficult for you to express healthy behaviours. If that’s the case, it doesn’t necessarily mean your relationship is unhealthy or doomed. It is also entirely possible for healthy relationship standards to be set, learned, and practiced at later stages in the relationship; as long as both parties are willing to put in the necessary effort to make a relationship work, you absolutely can.
If you’re interested in working through relationship difficulties, communication barriers, or personal internal conflicts that may be disrupting you from having healthy relationships, we are here for you! We have a team of highly qualified psychotherapists who are trained in couples counseling and can provide support to you and your partner. If you want to learn more, click below to read more about our team and work towards a healthier relationship today.