Participating in unhealthy relationships is stressful for anyone. By knowing how to recognize the characteristics of a healthy relationship, we can improve our own behaviors and learn to protect ourselves from emotionally unhealthy people.
A Good Relationship Meets the Needs of Both People
A healthy relationship is one in which both people feel a healthy sense of "self." Each person feels harmonious when spending time with the other person. Two emotionally healthy adults try to meet each other's needs, and each can ask for help without fear of criticism.
Sensitivity is Vital to Any Healthy Relationship
A relationship is "created" and doesn't exist until two people unite in a common purpose. A healthy relationship means that both parties feel respected--even when problems arise. To give respect, each person must exhibit behaviors desired from the other person.
Set Limits With Others to Protect Yourself
Every relationship calls for "healthy closeness" and "healthy distance." In any relationship, ask yourself, "How close can I be to this person and still feel good about myself?" If a relationship invades your emotional harmony, take a step back from the other person by visiting less, calling less or spending time with that person only in a group setting.
Maintain Peace Through Healthy Conversation
You build a healthy relationship through healthy conversation. Listen to your own conversation to make sure that you contribute healthy words and actions to the mix.
Self-Focus is Key in Healthy Relationships
You can overfocus on another person, but this upsets the harmony in a relationship. Instead, focus on your hopes, plans and dreams. This takes pressure off the relationship for the other person to meet too many of your personal needs. Asking too much of someone overloads a relationship.
Learning Relationship Skills Takes Practice
Few people instinctively have great relationship skills. Most of us acquire "people skills" though reading books and articles on relationships--plus participating in friendships. We might try a behavior, fail, readjust and try something else. It takes lots of practice to get along with other people.
Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.
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