Do you find yourself wondering about whether or not you are in a healthy relationship? There are so many different ways that relationships can look from the outside, and sometimes it is clear which relationships are healthy and which are not. However this is not always the case, and a couple that appears to be doing well may actually be having difficulty with some of the foundations of a healthy relationship. They may in fact not even be aware of what these foundations are.
Very often communication and trust are discussed as the cornerstones of healthy relationships. These are extremely important components of a relationship, and foundations that in general have been discussed extensively. Most people are aware of the significance of communication and trust in a relationship. However, there are some other foundations that many people do not often think about. My particular approach to relationships, requires the presence of mutuality, a sense of safety, and authenticity in order for a relationship to be healthy.
Healthy relationships are ones in which both partners experience a sense of mutuality. In a healthy relationship, both partners feel that they are being listened to and heard. There should be a balance with respects to who is doing the listening and who is doing the talking. When one person in the relationship starts to feel like their opinions, needs, or voice do not matter, then there is an imbalance and problems can occur within the relationship. Imbalances like these can lead to resentment and anger.
2. Sense of Safety:
In healthy relationships both partners need to feel a sense of safety. For example, both partners need to feel like they can honestly share their thoughts and feelings with each other without fear of ridicule or hostility. Partners in a healthy relationship do not always have to agree with each other; however, they always know that even if their partner disagrees with them, their feelings and thoughts will be heard and treated with respect. If there is a lack of safety in the relationship, then the partners may not feel free to be their genuine self with each other, which is problematic as a healthy relationship requires that two people are open, honest, and authentic with each other.
If you want to have a healthy relationship then you need to be authentic with the person you are in the relationship with, otherwise the relationship will fall short with respects to intimacy. You cannot be very close to someone if they do not know who you really are. Pretending to be someone who you are not and or trying to be someone different to try to fit in or impress someone else can be a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Even if it goes unsaid, this lack of authenticity may be felt by the other person in the relationship, and it will eventually leave you feeling unfulfilled. Also by being inauthentic you deprive the other person of really getting to know you and letting them really feel close to you. It can be very frustrating to really want to get to know a person and feel like you keep hitting a wall.
Mutuality, a sense of safety, and authenticity are just three foundations of a healthy relationship. Having these three alone does not guarantee a healthy relationship, but healthy relationships do have these three components as parts of them. As discussed, there are other foundations such as communication and trust, among others which have not been mentioned. If you are wondering about components of your own relationship or if you are finding yourself struggling with your partner, couples counseling can be very effective in helping couples build these foundations within their relationship. If you are unsatisfied with your relationship, with the right help, there is the potential for change!