7 Signs of a Healthy Romantic Relationship

healthy romantic relationship

Every relationship has its own set of challenges. If you’re in a romantic relationship, you’ve probably encountered various issues that have made you question the strength and health of your bond. And if you do, you should know that this is normal and common — at some point in their relationship, most couples seek ways to confirm whether their relationship is happy, healthy, and satisfying.

Studies show that couples in healthy relationships tend to experience greater well-being and satisfaction (e.g., Diener & Lucas, 2000). But if this is something you lack in your relationship or if you’re questioning the dynamics of your emotional bond, recognizing the signs of a healthy relationship will help you develop a more fulfilling connection with your partner.

In this article, we will discuss 7 key signs that indicate you’re in a healthy romantic relationship. And for those who lack these signs in their relationship, we’ll explain why couples therapy may be a beneficial step in resolving underlying issues.

1.  You trust each other

Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. When you trust your partner, you feel secure physically and emotionally. This means you know that there is a person with whom you can share your deepest thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment or betrayal.

Studies show that lack of trust is one of the main reasons for relationship breakdowns. For instance, according to Arikewuyo et al. (2021), lack of trust contributes to various relationship problems, such as emotional instability, conflict, or the intention to break up. The presence of trust in relationships, on the other hand, leads to stability.

Moreover, trust contributes to higher levels of intimacy and relationship satisfaction. This is because trust builds a safe space where both partners can grow individually and together. Therefore, if you and your partner consistently show trust in each other, it’s a positive sign of a healthy relationship.

2.  You communicate effectively

Communication is the heart of not only romantic but any type of relationship. However, since we can communicate our thoughts and feelings in numerous ways, communication can either build intimacy or break it.

Common communication styles that romantic partners use in their relationships include:

  • Passive – If your partner avoids confrontation, ignores your thoughts, and doesn’t express their feelings and needs, your relationship is probably based on a passive communication style. This doesn’t allow each of you to express your true feelings and leads to misunderstandings and resentment as a result.
  • Aggressive – Another maladaptive communication style in romantic relationships is when one partner dominates conversations and violates the others’ opinions. Studies show that verbal aggression increases the risk of interpersonal violence (Hwang, 2016).
  • Passive-Aggressive – A passive-aggressive partner communicates dissatisfaction in an indirect way. For example, they might use sarcasm or make subtle digs, which leaves their partner confused and hurt.
  • Assertive – This is the healthiest form of communication, which means that both parties are expressing their thoughts, feelings, and needs in a clear, open, and respectful way. As a result, they both feel heard and understood.

If you and your partner have an open, assertive communication style, chances are that you’ll develop stronger emotional bonds and resolve conflicts more effectively. This, in turn, can contribute to a healthy, long-lasting relationship.

3.  You respect and support each other

In most relationships, trust and love are built on values such as respect and support. The reason is that when both partners respect each other’s values, decisions, and emotions, they create a safe environment and allow partners to manage conflicts constructively.

According to American psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson, respect is one of the most essential factors in successful relationships. That’s because it helps partners avoid destructive behaviors, such as defensiveness, criticism, and contempt (Gottman & Silver, 1999).

Therefore, in healthy relationships, even if individuals disagree, they treat each other respectfully, support one another’s views, and work as a team to reach constructive solutions.

4.  You maintain individuality

Each partner in a healthy relationship should be able to maintain their real selves while being supportive and respectful of each other’s growth and individuality. This means encouraging one another to explore interests and pursuits outside of the relationship.

Social psychologists highlight the importance of maintaining individuality in a relationship through the concept of self-expansion. This theory suggests that relationships are healthy only when each partner can grow and broaden their perspectives, which leads to the expansion of self-concept. However, this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t engage in mutual activities. In fact,  a 2013 study shows that couples who engaged in shared exciting activities for 90 minutes per week experienced positive affect and relationship satisfaction (Coulter & Malouff, 2013).

Therefore, in an ideal scenario, couples should share some experiences but have separate hobbies, friendships, and goals to expand their selves and avoid blending their identities completely.

5.  You both have a say in the relationship

Another important sign of a healthy relationship is that both partners have a say in decisions. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small choice, like selecting a movie to watch or deciding what meal to cook for dinner, or larger decisions, like determining how to sort out finances or take care of kids. In either case, each individual needs to have an equal say. In relationships where one person has more power than the other, this imbalance leads to resentment. Moreover, the power imbalance increases the chances of abuse, especially in intimate relationships.

Healthy relationships, on the other hand, are characterized by an equal distribution of power. This equality ensures that each partner can maintain their individuality and feel free to express themselves without hesitation.

6.  You handle conflicts constructively

Every couple faces conflict from time to time and it’s natural — individuals have their own perspectives, desires, and needs. Occasionally, these differences clash. But the thing that sets healthy relationships apart is the way partners handle these conflicts. Specifically, in healthy relationships, conflicts are resolved in a constructive way, which means individuals are considering each other’s perspectives and reaching a solution that is in line with both of their needs.

As studies prove, constructive conflict resolution is linked with higher satisfaction in the relationship (Cramer, 2000). Considering that constructive conflict resolution leads to marital satisfaction (Unal & Akgun, 2022), couples counselors often focus on teaching couples to develop specific skills that will help them resolve conflicts in a healthy and adaptive way.

7.  You share intimacy and affection

One of the most important signs of a healthy relationship dynamic is sharing intimacy and affection. However, it’s important to note that intimacy doesn’t only mean physical closeness. Instead, according to the APA, it can be defined as “an extreme emotional closeness that characterizes close, familiar, and affectionate relationships.” This sense of connection brings emotional understanding, which is vital for healthy relationships.

Studies have shown that regular expressions of affection can lead to higher relationship satisfaction. For example, a study on love languages by Chapman (2021) found that understanding and acting on your partner’s preferred love language significantly enhances relationship satisfaction. Considering that love languages such as physical touch, affirmation, or spending quality time with each other are expressions of intimacy, it’s clear that intimacy and affection are essential signs of a healthy romantic relationship.

How couples counseling can enhance your relationship

If you notice that your relationship lacks any of these preconditions of a healthy romantic relationship,  it may be beneficial to consider receiving professional help. Couples counseling is a type of therapy that aims to help romantic partners understand the dynamics of their relationship, learn effective skills to resolve conflicts in a constructive way, and enhance their emotional connection and communication. Research has consistently shown that couples therapy can significantly improve relationship satisfaction over time (e.g., Schofield, 2012).

At Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids, our team of licensed counselors uses a wide range of evidence-based techniques to help couples improve their relationships. So, if you’re facing communication barriers, intimacy issues, or other relational challenges, reach out to us at Grand Rapids, MI, or Ada, MI, or schedule online counseling sessions to receive professional support.

Note that with us, you can take advantage of insurance options, such as Aetna, Meritain Health, United Healthcare, and more.

Learn more about the Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids

Learn more about Counseling and Therapy services at Health for Life Counseling Grand Rapids

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