We connect with people daily, at the grocery store, work, grabbing a coffee in the morning or a sandwich at lunch. These interactions can lead to acquaintances, friendships or romantic interests. Relationships come in and out of our lives frequently. They have a beginning, middle and an end. The duration and end point are different for each one. Relationships can be long term or short in duration and may end over different reasons, growing apart, moving away, a disagreement or a myriad of other reasons.
Here are five characteristics which are needed for a happy and healthy relationship, whether with a friend, family member or partner.
1. Honest and vulnerable: Being truthful to yourself as well as others. Many of us rationalize reasons not to share different things about ourselves because we may feel vulnerable. Being honest, also means being vulnerable at times. Sometimes we work hard at NOT feeling vulnerable in a relationship, because vulnerability is scary. Being vulnerable in a relationship helps grow trust and intimacy. It all starts with honesty.
2. Mutual Respect: Supporting each other in a respectful manner. Making decisions with your partner about those things that affect your relationship is a sign of mutual respect. This is not to say that you will lose all decision making ability, you will still be able to buy a Cafe Mocha without consulting. Use your judgment and make important decisions together and/or those that will affect the relationship. This exhibits mutual respect and understanding.
3. Trust: Building trust in a relationship is very important. This is one of the key characteristic for a long term healthy relationship. Being faithful to your partner is not enough, both of you must feel emotionally/mentally/physically safe in the relationship. It will be difficult for the relationship to grow without feeling safe. Trust is important for intimacy to grow and to feel more connected to each other.
4. Forgiveness: "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Mahatma Ghandi. Forgiving someone who hurt you is a very difficult task. Letting go of the anger you feel when someone close to you hurts you and forgiving them, can seem impossible at times. Having compassion toward the person who hurt you helps in the forgiveness process. Try to remember that most people have feelings and the person who hurt you most likely feels terrible about what happened. Holding on to anger can lead to resentment and bitterness. These feelings are not good for you psychologically, emotionally or physically. They are also detrimental to the relationship you are in and other relationships in your life. This does not mean you need to forgive the person immediately, forgiveness is a process and individual to those who are experiencing deep wounding.
5. Communication: Healthy communication is very important in every relationship we have. Listening, sharing and responding to your friend/partner in a non judgmental way. Validating what your friend/partner is saying, even if you disagree, is very useful in healthy communication. Try not to fall into negative communication patterns such as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Communicate with respect, even when angry and upset with each other. Refrain from name calling and utilizing sarcasm when communicating.
Relationships ebb and flow, and require hard work through the difficult times. Those of us who have these characteristics in our relationships, should be experiencing happy and healthy relationships. Relationships are not easy but they are worth it when you find the right people to be your friends and the right person to be your partner.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a replacement for therapy or treatment.
Dr. Deb is a successful Psychologist who practices in New York City. She is an Anxiety Specialist who works with adolescents and adults providing both individual and couples counseling.