What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

By Dr. Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, Director of Psychological Services at Amwell

As we all likely know, every relationship varies and “healthy” might mean different things to different people. While this blog post will focus primarily on romantic relationships, the majority of these topics can apply to many different kinds of relationships.

COVID-19 has put a unique and challenging spin on what it means to maintain a healthy relationship. During “normal” times, relationships are already complicated and vulnerable — the stress related to current events might be intensifying those feelings. Luckily there are some widely used tips and methods that can help you navigate your relationship in a way that feels nourishing both to you and your loved one. Whether or not you are familiar with the points below, it could be useful to ask yourself if and how they have been impacted by COVID-19.

Signs of a healthy relationship and how to cultivate them

Psychology Today says that general indicators of a healthy relationship may include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:

  • Trust
  • Communication
  • Patience
  • Empathy
  • Affection and interest
  • Flexibility
  • Appreciation
  • Room for growth
  • Respect
  • Reciprocity
  • Healthy conflict resolution
  • Individuality and boundaries

On an even more fundamental level, it is important to be mindful of your personal experiences and how you feel about them. External factors to pay attention to may include your partner, their own stressors, whatever is going on at work or with your family, and more. Internally, you might try to notice your own thoughts, emotions, and experiences. This kind of mindfulness about yourself and your relationship can help you and your partner prioritize what you both need, even if sometimes that means spending time alone.

Self-care is an enormous part of a healthy relationship, especially during stressful time periods. While taking care of yourself will likely mean different things to you compared to your partner, simply focusing on your own health and well-being can help you take care of each other. In addition to practicing mindfulness and self-care, therapy is a useful tool for building and/or maintaining a healthy relationship.

You can speak with a therapist, either individually or with your partner, about any overarching questions you may have; How do I know if I am in a healthy relationship? How do I know if/how I am taking care of myself? In what ways can I ensure that I am “giving” as much as I am “taking” in this relationship? Sometimes these questions can feel confusing if you try to untangle them yourself. Therapy can also be a powerful way to discover, and work through, obstacles you may not even be aware of. Additionally, a therapist can help you move through existing feelings of anxiety, stress, grief, anger, and any other emotions that may be impacting your relationship. Regardless of what you decide to discuss in therapy, simply having the appointments on the calendar can help you create time and space to focus on yourself and the relationship.

Prioritize your health and safety

It is especially important to seek external support if you begin to feel unsafe in your relationship. Even as stores, restaurants, and workplaces begin to open up, many people are still spending the majority of their days inside their homes. Try to remember that regardless of what is or is not open, you can always see a therapist virtually. The same is true for your network of family and friends. If you are having trouble vocalizing your experience with a therapist or your loved ones, you can use hotlines and other resources to find support. Regardless of your process and the resources you use, try to remember that there are people out there who can help support you.

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