Being in a relationship is exciting, but some people fail to recognize the effort that it requires. While there is no exact recipe for a good relationship, there are some essential elements that should be present in order for it to remain healthy for both parties. Disagreements and conflict will always occur, but having consideration for your partner will help you to successfully resolve your differences without causing lasting damage. Understanding the aspects that make a relationship healthy can help you notice areas of your own that may be problematic.
Effective patterns of communication are important, because they allow couples to manage interactions without negatively affecting the relationship. Tips for communicating well include listening, paying attention to body language and nonverbal communication, avoiding anger, talking openly about feelings and staying positive. It is also important to remember that developing an effective communication pattern with your partner will take time and requires more than simply obtaining knowledge of the basic skills, says Angela Wiley, Ph.D., in an article published by "The Forum for Family and Consumer Issues."
Trust and Honesty
Trust can be difficult to obtain and even harder to keep in a relationship, especially if you or your partner has had bad experiences in the past. Elements that help foster trust include dependability, honesty and openness from both. Honesty, in particular, can make for a stronger relationship because it involves truthful self-disclosure and can lead to a deeper level of intimacy, says Michael Hogan, Ph.D., in the article "In One Lifespan," published by "Psychology Today." It is also important to remember that once trust is lost, through dishonesty or other means, it will be difficult to get back.
Loyalty and Commitment
For a relationship to be healthy, you and your partner need to demonstrate loyalty and supportiveness. Commitment is also important and serves as a mechanism for maintaining your relationship. These aspects of a partnership are associated with respect, which is linked with relationship satisfaction, says a 2002 study reported in the "Journal of Personal Relationships." Remember that these and other factors that contribute to a healthy relationship are only helpful when they exist in both you and your partner.
Compromise and Cooperation
You and your partner should be able to solve problems and manage differences by working together and, at times, compromising. According to Mark White, Ph.D., in "Psychology Today," compromises should not include things or ideas that are important to you. For example, it would be considerate to not watch television in the room with a partner who is completing homework. However, it would not be healthy for you give up college for the relationship. Cooperation, on the other hand, is good for relationships, as it strengthens them through balanced interchanges, open communication and mutual understanding.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Families First-Keys to Successful Family Functioning: Communication
- University of Illinois Extension: Connecting As a Couple: Communication Skills for Healthy Relationships
- Psychology Today: 7 Keys to Long-term Relationship Success
- Psychology Today: Love At Any Age
- Close Romantic Relationships: Maintenance and Enhancement
- Journal of Personal Relationships: Respect in Close Relationships
- Psychology Today: How Much Should You Compromise for Your Relationship?
- Psychology Today: Cooperation, Not Compromise
Ayra Moore is a professional writer who holds a Masters of Science in forensic psychology with a specialty in mental health applications. She also obtained a Bachelor of Arts in general psychology and criminal justice from Georgia State University. Moore worked for two years with at-risk teenagers in a therapeutic setting.