10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship

Discover the top indicators of a healthy relationship—and a long life.
Psychiatrist George Vaillant said, “… the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.”1 He should know. For 32 years, Vaillant led one of the world’s longest studies of adult life, the Study of Adult Development, for Harvard Medical School. The study began in 1938 and is still continuing today—the scientists eventually included the children of the original research subjects in the study.

Of course, just being in a relationship isn’t enough. The goal is to be in a healthy relationship. Says Robert Waldinger, who currently heads the study, “… how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”1

But how do you know if your relationship is healthy? Take a look at these 10 signs of a healthy relationship.

You respect each other.
You don’t have to delight in everything your partner does, but you do need to respect each other. You and your significant other need to understand that you are each unique people with individual interests and needs. And even if you don’t love all the same things that your partner loves, in a healthy relationship you respect and accept your differences.
You trust one another.

Healthy relationships are built on trust. And trust applies to fidelity, finances, parenting, and more. Trustworthy partners are predictable, faithful, and reliable.
You communicate well as a couple.

Communication is a two-way street: You need to be able to speak your mind, and you also need to be able to hear your partner speak their mind—even when they tell you something unpleasant. Good communication helps couples express themselves, connect, and resolve conflicts in healthy ways.

You’re both committed to the relationship.
The top predictor of a healthy union is feeling that your partner is committed to the relationship, according to a 2020 review of dozens of relationship studies.2 If you believe your significant other is in it for the long haul, and if your partner believes the same of you, your relationship is likely a healthy one.

You’re kind to each other.
In a healthy relationship, both parties treat each other with care and compassion. All couples bicker from time to time, but people in healthy relationships are kind to one another, even when they disagree.

You enjoy each other’s company.
It’s healthy for couples to have individual interests and to spend time apart, but healthy couples do enjoy spending time together, whether they binge a TV series together, work out together, or enjoy regular date nights.

You support each other’s goals.
Whether you want to write a book, earn a degree, or start a business, it’s important that your significant other supports your dreams. You don’t have to have the same vision for your future, as long as you encourage one another to pursue your passions.
You make decisions together.

In a healthy relationship, partners collaborate on decisions. Whether you’re deciding something as mundane as what to have for dinner or something as momentous as where to live, you and your significant other should listen to each other and come to a mutually agreeable decision.

Your friends and family support your relationship.
What you think of your relationship is the most important opinion to consider, of course. But if the majority of people who love you and want the best for you think you’re better off single, it’s a good idea to take an impartial look at your relationship to determine why other people don’t see it as a healthy one.

You feel supported and cared for.
The best way to know that you’re in a healthy relationship is to consider how your relationship makes you feel. Infatuation can feel exciting and drama can masquerade as passion, but true love feels safe, calm, and empowering. (And that can still feel exciting and passionate!) If your partner regularly shows that they care for you and support you, that’s a good sign of a healthy relationship.

Note on licensure: The BS in Psychology and MS in Psychology are not licensure programs and do not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology or counseling professional.

1Source: news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/04/over-nearly-80-years-harvard-study-has-been-showing-how-to-live-a-healthy-and-happy-life/
2 Source: www.pnas.org/content/117/32/19061

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