What Does a Healthy Relationship Look Like?

Paths picI have been in the school of hard knocks and hope I’ve learned some things I can share with others to help with better decisions than I’ve sometimes made in life regarding relationships.

Here are some questions you might ask yourself in managing your own relationships. To start, remember that every relationship includes two people and you can only manage yourself.  In other words, you can’t control how others respond to you, you can only control what you do.

•How is your health emotionally, financially, spiritually and physically? Are you in a stable position? No one is ever going to be perfect and I don’t think you need to wait for everything to be in place before you engage in relationship but I believe it does mean owning your strengths and weaknesses and not expecting other people to fix all your problems, although you can ask for help if you need it.  The person you’re asking for help gets to choose whether they will or not.  Own your baggage. Don’t blame others for it but also don’t take on baggage that’s not yours. If someone is dropping their baggage off at your door, send it packing  and address it back to them.

•Have you dealt with the stuff that’s in your past?  A lot of times we repeat patterns, or think bad behavior from someone is normal because we don’t know a different way.  Look for unhealthy patterns in your life and find out where they came from. Once the root is discovered, you can turn it around. It may not change overnight, but at least you can start moving in the right direction. Yucky past, poof be gone!

•Do you respect and love others?  How often do you tell your partner, friend, or family member you love them or want to serve them?  Does your partner know how much you care for them?  If most of your communication is negative or disrespectful you’re probably headed toward the end.  Studies have shown it takes five positive comments to cover up one negative one.  Be positive!

•Are the people you’re committed to fully committed to you?  I’ve made the mistake of being there for people who weren’t safe or trustworthy and thus ended up getting taken advantage of.  It’s easy to get off balance in relationships and it may not be equal all the time but there should be a good amount of give and take.  It’s a balancing act.

•Are you both thinking long term?  It’s good to know where you stand in any relationship you’re in. After spending time with someone you can usually gauge how they manage their relationships. Do they have friends or colleagues from their past?  If it’s a significant relationship, have you tried counseling, communicating openly and honestly with each other, religious affiliations, or separating for a time to see the relationship from a different perspective? If it’s a good thing stay for the long haul.

•Are you both able to forgive? Have you given yourself a break?  One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn is to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made and to not hold a person continually responsible for their mistakes after I’ve told them I’ve forgiven them.  When you’ve been hurt in a big way forgiveness may not happen overnight but you should see a gradual improvement in how you respond to the person who has harmed you. Be forgiving.

The more you can face your problems in the eye and be open and honest, the more you can bring that part of yourself to a relationship. Again, it’s not about perfection but admitting your imperfections and allowing other people to accept your good and bad parts combined.  When that happens you’ll know you have something you can work with.


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