You and your new flame love trying new restaurants together and going on long bikes rides, but does that mean you’re destined to be together? When it comes to being happy and healthy in a relationship — and making it last long-term — there are more important things to consider than having common interests.
So what exactly makes a relationship healthy? “A great relationship is a safe place for both people to love, honor, and respect one another,” says Jennifer Spaulding, a love and relationship coach in Austin, Texas. You can communicate your wants, needs, and boundaries, as well as listen to the other person.
Read on to discover five more signs that you’re in a healthy relationship.
1. You’re Not Afraid to Speak Up
It’s easy to know when your partner does something you don’t like — maybe he doesn’t call you for two days, or he doesn’t help out around the house when you live together. But it’s not always easy to speak up and tell your significant other how you’re feeling. “This takes a lot of strength, self-confidence, and courage, because you have to come from a vulnerable place,” says Spaulding. In a healthy relationship, you’ll feel secure enough to be open with your partner.
2. You Know Each Other’s Love Style
Many couples swear by the book The 5 Love Languages for a reason: In it, you discover your partner’s “love language” — the way they prefer to give and receive love (through words of affirmation, quality time, or physical touch, for example). In a healthy relationship, you’ve taken the time to learn each other’s “love language” so you can express your love in a way that works for you both, says Spaulding.
3. You Encourage Each Other to Go After Your Goals
“Many of us have a dream or vision for our life, and especially as we age, we want to maintain those visions,” says Spaulding. It’s okay if yours don’t align with your partner’s as long as you “honor and encourage each other to achieve your goals,” she says.
4. You’re Comfortable in Your Own Skin
When you’re in a relationship, it’s crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses, says Spaulding. Maybe you’re confident around your friends but self-conscious at work. Or you know that little things, like your partner’s forgetting to take out the trash, can set you off. Whatever your strengths and weaknesses are, being aware of them can help you reach a point of loving and accepting yourself, which in turn can help you love and accept your partner.
5. You Feel Happy and Supported
Once the initial elation of a new relationship wears off, check in with yourself: Do you feel happy and supported by your partner? How are your mood and self-esteem? If you feel any strain or lack of support, talk to your significant other, since feeling unhappy in a relationship can lead to health problems down the road. According to a study published in April 2013 in the journal PLoS One, people who experience poor relationship quality are 50 percent more likely to be at risk for depression.