By Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD
Your heart’s aflutter. He or she is all you can think about. Must be a keeper, right? Not necessarily. Nor should you necessarily be so quick to dump the nice guy or woman you’ve dated few times; but with no butterflies. At least you might want to think twice in these situations if you are looking for a committed relationship that will make you happy in the long run.
Relationships that successfully last the test of time are based in a deep connection that provides both partners with a sense of safety and support. While fireworks can be exciting, they don’t necessarily signal love – sometimes they are more like flares, signaling of danger ahead. But those who think all that excitement equals love can overlook potentially healthy partners.
So, to help guide you in thinking about your potential new partner (or to re-evaluate your current partner), consider the following characteristics of a healthy connection:
You believe that your partner is a good person. No matter how exciting or engaging a partner is, you cannot feel good about yourself or your relationship if you do not respect your partner.
You basically trust your partner. Mysterious and exciting can be thrilling, but they can also leave you feeling insecure. After the thrill wears off, you are likely to feel alone and lonely. And having to worry about what your partner is doing – whether your concern is infidelity or excessive spending – will inevitably lead to unhappiness. By contrast, if you trust your partner to act in both of your best interests, you will feel comforted by having them as a partner.
You feel loved and accepted. You can share your thoughts and feelings without concern of judgment. And, even when the two of you disagree, you still feel loved and respected. The result of this is that you feel safe to be yourself with your partner.
You reach out to your partner when you are upset. Life is filled with problems and stresses. One of the wonderful things about being part of a couple is that you don’t need to go it alone.
Your partner supports your interests and values outside of your relationship. You and your partner are more than just each other’s “other half.” You have inherent interests, beliefs, and values that will make you happy if you pursue or express them. Relationships that support your outside interests – whether they include stamp collecting or writing poetry – encourage you to be the best person you can be. And, this is a wonderful gift of supportive relationships.
Think about how these five qualities of happy relationships fit your current or budding relationship. If any of them don’t resonate with you, these are signs that you need to reconsider your relationship. Maybe the two of you need to talk. Or maybe it’s time to move on. But whatever you decide, knowing the signs of a healthy relationship can at least help you think more clearly about what you are looking for.
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