What makes a Healthy Relationship?
“I have been compiling a list of all the things that they don’t teach at school. They don’t teach how to love someone.”
In the ninth volume, The Sandman of his comic book series, Neil Gaiman writes: “The Kindly Ones.”
There is no single recipe that will work for love or successful relationships. Different approaches work in different relationships, so there’s no need to establish a set of rules for love.
However, a few things can cause a relationship to fail: It can get worse over time.
Researchers have explored the reasons people end relationships and what motivates them.
This feature will give you top-of-the-line research-backed advice on building a healthy, happy, and meaningful relationship.
1. Begin your relationship with the purpose
Research suggests that the expression “start as you mean it to go on” may have some truth in it when it comes to relationships.
Recent research suggests that many people in a relationship with someone are “falling into” a committed relationship due to a feeling of inertia. Couples may even end up living together, even if they aren’t sure if they are right for each other.
One person may decide to move in and maybe marry their partner because they have spent significant time together and bonded.
According to Samantha Joel, Ph.D. and Prof. Paul Eastwick, it can happen dating and relationships researchers. This is even if one or both partners believe that they are not compatible at all.
Medical News Today interviewed Alex Psaila. He is a clinical supervisor at Relate North West Sussex and South West Sussex, which are registered charities in the United Kingdom that offer mediation and relationship support. We spoke to him about the early warning signs that may be important when entering a relationship.
He said that blind love could make it difficult to recognize potential personality conflicts and issues. They may believe that their partner will change, no matter how annoying they find certain behaviors. Psaila said that this is not true.
Joel and Professor Eastwick believe that it is possible to avoid a bad relationship if both parties take the time to do difficult soul searching before entering into a relationship.
That is why we should approach new relationships with a sense of purpose. We need to think about our needs and desires and determine if the person with whom we are in love is likely to share them.
Joel and Prof. Eastwick write that “People might be able to boost their relational, health and well-being trajectories if they choose and invest in the right relationships for them.”
2. Talk to each other about how to resolve conflict
Open communication is essential when building and maintaining healthy relationships.
To solve the conflict in a long-term partnership, it is important to be calm, open, constructive, and cooperative. Conflict is a part of every interpersonal bond.
In a recent study on communication and conflict, Profs. Nickola Overall & James McNulty wrote that stress could occur in relationships when people have conflicting motives and goals.
There are many reasons why conflict can occur in a romantic relationship. McNulty and Overall mention unmet expectations, financial difficulties and the division of responsibilities. They also discuss jealousy and parenting styles.
“Unresolved conflict and the stress that comes with it put every relationship at risk,” they warn. They also note that managing conflict and resolving it is difficult and can be a source of stress.
What is the best way for couples to communicate to resolve conflicts?
It depends, according to the researchers. They say that ignoring one’s emotions and misgivings and avoiding a quick resolution is not a good idea.
Researchers explain that when serious issues are at stake, both parties must voice their opinions and negotiate change direction.
Suppose the couple has disagreements over minor or other issues that are not their control. In that case, they may find it more helpful to acknowledge the problem and express mutual love, affection, and forgiveness.
Psaila shared a similar view to MNT. He says that people who have happy, healthy relationships “say sorry” and make amends [when they admit they did something wrong].
Psaila says they don’t “hide shame” in discordant situations.
Psaila notes that couples who want to see their relationship thrive are open to seeking professional therapy when things go wrong and help them stay on the right track.
3. Take some time to do something together
Even if we share a home, life can sometimes interfere with our time with those we love. For example, work can sometimes make it difficult to spend time with our loved ones.
Research shows that couples who enjoy fun activities together might be more likely to stay together.
One study done last year on MNT suggested that couples who play board games together have a better quality of love life.
Karen Melton, Ph.D. and her colleagues, who carried out the board game study, noted that for activity between a couple to cause an increase in oxytocin levels, it should likely involve interaction between the partners.
For example, simply attending an event and not interacting at it may not result in the same bonding effect.
Researchers also discovered that the novelty factor affected how much oxytocin was released. Couples who had their fun in a different location than their home experienced a higher “love hormone” level than those who did it at home.
What’s the takeaway? Fun things in unfamiliar places, especially in new settings, can help maintain a relationship’s quality.
4. Create your space
While spending quality time with loved ones is important, it is equally important to spend quality alone time.
MNT explained that a healthy relationship is “a bit like breathing in, then breathing out.”
“There is a cycle between closeness and distance. It involves coming together, merging and separating, individuation, and [creating] a sense of self. Both are important. He noted that if the relationship is too distant, or there is not enough closeness, it will be tempting to seek this elsewhere (perhaps as a disguise for feeling abandoned and unloved).
Too much intimacy can lead to a feeling of being trapped. If a partner starts to isolate their “significant other”, it could indicate emotional abuse.
5. Appreciate and pay attention
The honeymoon phase is when couples will show affection and appreciation while they are still at the beginning stages of their relationship.
Sometimes, however, partners can take each other for granted and lose the admiration they once had.
A 2018 study found that young adults aged 18 to 29 who felt their partner made the same effort in initiating text conversations reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
Research has also shown that women who report being happy in romantic relationships also report that their partners appreciate their bodies. They also reported greater satisfaction with their sexual lives.
Final thoughts: Although material gifts do not measure love, studies show that it can be a positive sign of affection if a partner offers gifts.
According to research from last year, a gift that increases relationship satisfaction should be thoughtfully thought out. Researchers explain that gifts can reflect our image of ourselves or theirs.
The gift we choose will likely disappoint the recipient if the two don’t coincide. Researchers say that if we get to know our partners well, choosing a gift that fits their interests and personality is possible. This will reflect well on our relationship.
It doesn’t matter how you show your affection, but it is important to express your love for your partner, and not just on Valentine’s Day. This will help to maintain a healthy relationship.
Even if you try your best to build a romantic relationship with someone you love, sometimes it won’t work out. This should be cause for concern.
If you don’t feel secure and happy in a relationship, you might be ready to invest more time in self-love.