Healthy relationships allow you to express your individuality (both with and without your partner), bring out the best in both of you, and encourage growth. Especially if you are in a new relationship, it’s best to set a foundation for a positive and healthy relationship from the start. By setting your focus on respect and helpful communication, you can enjoy a healthy and satisfying relationship.
Speak up. Don’t expect your partner to be able to read your mind or “figure it out.” If you have a need or want to express something, you need to communicate it yourself. It’s not fair to you or your partner when you don’t communicate your needs. Likewise, don’t hold in the things that bother you. If something is bothering you, say something to your partner.
- If you don’t know how to start a conversation, say, “There’s something on my mind and I’d like it if you listened.” You can also say, “Something is bothering me and I feel like we should talk about it.”
Listen intently. Part of a healthy relationship is knowing when to talk and when to listen. Develop your listening skills by not interrupting and letting your partner finish their thoughts and feelings. Truly listen, and don’t try to come up with a response while your partner is talking.
- Use active listening skills by reflecting the content and emotions of what your partner is saying. Say, “Let me make sure I understand. I hear you saying that you’re upset that I didn’t tell you what time I would be home, and you wish I would have said something earlier because you were concerned.
Create healthy boundaries. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped; they are created to maintain respect and understand expectations in the relationship. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, bring it up and discuss how things need to change and how each of you will make changes. If one person wants to spend lots of time together and the other does not, it’s important to set a boundary of how much time is appropriate together and apart.
- For example, you may want to create sexual boundaries (being sexually exclusive) and social boundaries (having one night a week designated for friends or activities).
- Don’t let your partner control you and don’t set out to control your partner. Setting boundaries means respecting each other and finding compromises to make the relationship work well.