Relationships can be very complex and dynamic. And if there are a few things I have learned with all the relationships in my life – past and present – is that I can’t compare one to the other or put in any burdening expectation. If I don’t want to compare myself to another person or pressure myself in some expectation, then why should I do that to others, right?
Also, it’s not about having a lot in common, at least for me. While it surely plays a big factor in attraction that you love the same music or the same films, it does not determine a healthy relationship or promise a long-lasting one. I’ve shared a lot of common ground with friends like Korean pop (which at that time was a big chunk of my life) but we stopped growing as individuals in a friendship and eventually we just stopped talking.
While there’s a lot in play with the falling of that friendship, it’s also because we have changed our priorities and preferences. Just like what you want in a friendship in your teens will definitely change with what you want in your 20s, 30s, and so on. There’s work and other relationships that come in between.
Also if we’re judging relationships in terms of commonalities, then I surely wouldn’t have stayed with someone who loves rock and metal and thrives on dark humor. Instead, we have learned to respect preferences, beyond music, and work on a healthy compromise.
I’m not a relationship expert but I do know a bit from experience and learned from them. So here are some ‘green flags’ that should tell you that you’re in a relationship that is for keeps.
The Green Flags
In many relationship articles, there’s always more of the red flags. And while it’s important to know what you should avoid, it’s also a good reminder to know the signs that you are in a healthy relationship. These are not just for romantically-involved partners but for any kind of relationship as well.
1. Open Communication – You can speak your mind
Relationships thrive in a space where all or both sides can freely and honestly express themselves about everything that goes on in their lives. That includes successes, failures, disappointments and even the small things in between with the feeling of being heard.
You are comfortable talking about any issues even those that make you vulnerable like your mental health. And for couples, serious issues like financial concerns also come up comfortably in talks.
And in open communication, it’s not just about being comfortable expressing but also listening without judgment and offering a fresh perspective. And also, mutual work in building consistent communication.
2. Conflict Resolution
You talk to your partner, not with other people
Before, I used to go to other people for advice on how to handle relationship issues. But over time, I realized that this was not only unhelpful but also unhealthy and damaging especially with romantic relationships. People can only help you up to the level of information that you are willing to disclose and what is not taken into consideration here is your relationship dynamics and context of the other person.
You fight fairly and productively
In a healthy relationship, you don’t avoid hard conversations with your partner. You face them together. No relationship is perfect and people fight and that’s better than holding back feelings. People in a healthy relationship are mature enough to fight fairly and productively. No name calling or put downs or unnecessary historical accounts of what happened before.
You let things go
Lastly, there will be things that your partner or friend will do that will annoy the hell out of you. There will be days that you don’t behave considerately or say things you don’t mean. But what makes a relationship healthy is that you can express your disappointment and let things go. Not all things need to involve fights.As they say, choose your battles.
3. Trust – Your relationship is home
Trust involves honesty which means that you don’t keep any secrets from each other. And this is very important in any relationship, especially romantic ones. When there’s trust in a relationship, you won’t catch yourself worrying about them pursuing other people when you’re apart.
But beyond that feeling of having not to worry, it also makes you feel safe in their company like it’s your home. Being in a healthy relationship is being assured that you won’t hurt you physically or emotionally (intentionally). You encourage each other and have each other’s best interests at heart and in mind.
Trust is a commitment.
You have your own sense of yourself in the relationship
That is your identity is not tied to theirs and you are secured on your own as a unique individual and you both provide and rely for mutual support. This way, the relationship is balanced because you don’t depend on them to provide you with all your needs and to keep you happy all the time.
You enjoy healthy time apart
You both maintain friends and connections outside of your relationship. You also get to spend time pursuing other interests and hobbies. This is also built on trust that you don’t have to worry being apart with them.
The beauty of having healthy time apart is that it allows personal growth and strengthens oneself. It’s difficult to be in a relationship where you don’t allow time off each other in between.
You like and accept your partner the way they are
This is one of the key characteristics of a healthy relationship that guarantees it to be a long-term love. This means you accept them fully as who they are but you are not fixated on what they used to be or who they should be like an idealized form of them.
You are interested in their thoughts and goals and you have a flexible mindset about each other.
You also love yourself when you are with them
Sometimes, adjusting too much to be with a person is not okay. And a sign of being in a healthy relationship is that you are fully able to be yourself when you’re with them. You bloom alongside them.
In a romantic relationship, it’s a good thing to not just be partners but also friends. It’s important that you can both enjoy each other’s company where you can have fun and some spontaneity.
You can enjoy each other’s jokes and understand each other’s humor. Being able to share these light moments with each other will definitely help you both grow together in the relationship.
7. Physical Intimacy
This is very, very important in romantic relationships and it does not always equate to sex. Your relationship can still be healthy even without sex as long as you are both on the same with that. Again, it’s about openly communicating to each other that makes this work.
If both of you don’t enjoy sex, you can try other forms of physical intimacy like hugging, kissing, cuddling, and sleeping together (whichever you’re comfortable with). The goal is just to physically connect with each other.
If you are both into sex, here are signs that you have healthy physical intimacy.
- There’s always consent because sexual boundaries are respected. There will be times that one of you does not feel like having sex and there’s a positive response to that rejection.
- You can discuss your desires and you feel safe expressing them.
- Your sex life is private and you also make sure to discuss sexual risk factors.