Whenever you see the “Signs you’re in a healthy relationship” articles, they always mention pretty much the same things. If you love and support one another, say “thank you” and “I love you”, and are able to communicate - you’re good!
But not only are these things very basic when it comes to a relationship (let’s be honest, if you don’t love and support one another, what are you even doing together, right?), but they are usually very vague, too.
That’s why this article provides you with three very specific signs you’re not only in a loving relationship, but a healthy one, too (because one does not necessarily mean the other!)
No.1: You Fight.
Controversial? Perhaps. Shocking? Definitely! Healthy relationships are usually defined as those where you communicate with each other so well you never need to fight. But let’s be honest here for a second and ask ourselves: how realistic is that?
There isn’t a single person more similar to you than yourself, and even you catch yourself in an inner battle sometimes, don’t you? So how should we expect to find someone who is so similar to us we never, ever get into a fight, no matter how constructive it is?
Because that’s the thing, really. We are implicitly (and explicitly) being taught that every fight is negative and means something we're on the verge of a breakup. So we shy away from them, accepting compromises we don’t really want, all in the name of the holy “John and I have such a perfect relationship that we never fight!”
Most of us have been guilty of this at some point in our lives, but eventually you realize that without standing your ground from time to time and refusing a compromise that's not honoring your wishes at all, you’re strengthening your relationship. Think about it: if you’ve been together for 5 years and have never experienced a single fight, imagine what happens when you finally get into one over something as huge as raising your kids. You haven’t built resilience nor common language when it comes to fighting. You have essentially damned yourselves by refusing to fight due to some belief that is, frankly, completely untrue. So if you do fight occasionally, congratulations: your relationship is at least partly healthy!
No.2: Your Fights are Respectful and Useful.
This is a far better sign of a healthy relationship than having no fights at all. At times when there is a disagreement, misunderstanding, or something that’s simply bothering you and you want to say it out loud rather than letting it eat away at you (and good on you for that!) - you do so in a calm, rational, logical manner.
So if you’re bringing up the fact that you want some alone time together instead of always going out as part of a larger group, you would start with your own feelings, thoughts, and offering a solution: say, at least one alone date a week to every two as part of a group. They can agree to it or not, but either way, you’ll be starting from your own feelings and wishes instead of placing the blame (“You never want to go out with me alone”), assuming their feelings (“You don’t love me anymore if you don’t want to have some romantic time with just the two of us!”) or bringing up past mistakes (“After doing that thing a month ago, now you’re acting this way?!”)
You may be right about those things, but by mentioning them and shifting the blame, all you’re doing is forcing them to act in a defensive manner. In that situation, it becomes you vs. them, rather than you and them vs. the problem.
So if you can be open about your issues and approach them in an analytical manner while respecting the other person and giving them the right to state their own opinion and feelings, congrats - you have at least 2 out of 3 unusual signs of a healthy relationship!
No.3: You don’t feel like you need to be there for them 24/7.
This may be the most controversial of them all, but let me explain. When we really love someone, a huge part of us wants to be with them all the time, but that part of us is actually pretty unhealthy. You need to be a whole, self-loving, and self-accepting person first before being able to sustain a healthy relationship with another person. And if you are, it means you’ll enjoy some alone time and won’t need to fill the silence and solitude with another person at all costs!
Another thing is - sometimes we have this unreasonable idea that “They cannot have fun without me, and if they do, it means they can live without me and I'm not essential to their happiness!” (Been there, done that, and trust me - it is exhausting to constantly hope the other person isn’t having fun with their friends or family when we’re not present). So to make sure we’re on their mind all the time, we answer their texts in a matter of seconds, we start feeling down when they don’t send anything for two hours, and if they don’t ask us out every single day, well, that’s just horrible, isn't it?!
The truth is, unless both of you are happy as individuals, fulfilled with your own interests and hobbies, and have different people and groups of people you can confide in - the relationship will be more of a symbiosis than it will be a happy union between the two of you. Each of you should be a bonus to an already fulfilled life. Only then will you be able to truly appreciate the other person and your relationship for what it truly is. Otherwise, all you’ll achieve in doing is let your happiness depend on another person and force them to start depending on you.
And where are the unconditional love and respect in that?