“What is necessary for your happiness?” That was a question asked in studies that examined the effects of satisfying close relationships, either with family, friends, or partners in romantic involvements, according to David G. Myers’ “Social Psychology” published in 2005. Most respondents agreed that they valued their personal relationships above the attainment of success or wealth. It is not surprising. Healthy relationships of all kinds are the basis for our well-being and our self-esteem, and most importantly, our overall approach to life. Determining if you are in a healthy relationship requires introspection and an honest appraisal of your connection to another. It’s not always easy. Discovering that the relationship you’re in may not be healthy or good for you can be a painful revelation.
You may begin to assess a love relationship, for example, by recalling what attracted you to your partner. Was it physical attractiveness, or was it something deeper? Was it intelligence, sense of humor, self-esteem of the partner? Interestingly, but not surprisingly, men generally value attractiveness at first and slightly less value on brains, while women put less value on bodies and more value on brains (by far,) according to opinion polls done in the early to mid 1990s that looked at which sex valued which attributes more. No matter if you are male or female, recognizing what attracted you in the first place may be a starting point for shedding some light on the health of your relationship.
When relationships are based purely on physical attraction without further investigation into what is inside the book cover, there is little hope of sustaining the relationship. Physical attraction, although very important, is only one aspect of a relationship, and it will not hold the relationship together if there aren’t other aspects that make it worthwhile. Most people, long-term, would prefer a partner who is warm, compassionate, honest, and faithful, to one who is physically attractive but exhibits all the opposite traits. If your partner is attractive, but cold, aloof, dishonest, insincere, or perhaps lacks a sense of humor and you value all those traits, your relationship is out of balance and is most likely unhealthy.
When partners are clingy and needy, each depending on the other to “make” them happy or provide every need, or perhaps expecting the other to give up all other social and familial connections, the situation again is out of balance and is unhealthy. It is important to have a sense of independence and self-identity throughout a relationship, from the very beginning to wherever it may lead in the future. Depending on your partner to define you as a person is most certainly unhealthy. Realizing that your love relationship may be based on these aspects can help you determine if your relationship is healthy or not.
How much do you, in general, like being around your partner? Are you basically always glad to see him or her after an absence, do you miss that person when they’re away, and can you envision life without them? Can you envision life WITH them in the long run? When beauty fades, and it will, will there be deeper aspects of the relationship that hold the two of you together? Generally, we are in a love relationship with an eye to having long-term happiness with that special person. If either partner is lukewarm in their attitude about creating a future together, the situation is not healthy – it’s out of balance. These questions should be examined with honesty, even when you’re afraid to go there, in order to determine whether your relationship is healthy. If you’re both on the same page about having a future together, it probably is.
If you can say yes to all of the positive aspects of a partnership with this person, who ideally will be your very best friend as well, you have chosen wisely and your relationship has a much better chance of survival. But we don’t just want it to survive – we want it to flourish, nourish us, and enhance our lives. We want that relationship to be the foundation for the happiness we all long for and search for. Ideally, we want that all in one package that clearly says, “Healthy Relationship.”