The Beginning Stages
While the early months of a relationship can feel effortless and exciting, successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both partners. Building healthy patterns early in your relationship can establish a solid foundation for the long run. When you are just starting a relationship, it is important to:
- Build: Build a foundation of appreciation and respect. Focus on all the considerate things your partner says and does. Happy couples make a point of noticing even small opportunities to say "thank you" to their partner, rather than focusing on mistakes their partner has made.
- Explore: Explore each other's interests so that you have a long list of things to enjoy together. Try new things together to expand mutual interests.
- Establish: Establish a pattern of apologizing if you make a mistake or hurt your partner's feelings. Saying "I'm sorry" may be hard in the moment, but it goes a long way towards healing a rift in a relationship. Your partner will trust you more if he or she knows that you will take responsibility for your words and actions.
As the Months Go By: Important Things to Recognize as Your Relationship Grows
Relationships Change: Changes in life outside your relationship will impact what you want and need from the relationship. Since change is inevitable, welcoming it as an opportunity to enhance the relationship is more fruitful than trying to keep it from happening.
Check in Periodically: Occasionally set aside time to check in with each other on changing expectations and goals. If a couple ignores difficult topics for too long, their relationship is likely to drift into rocky waters without their noticing.
Everyone Deserves a Healthy Relationship
- Whether your significant other/partnership is a friendship or an intimate relationship you deserve to feel respected, supported, encouraged, and free in your relationships. Violence in any relationship is never acceptable.
What is a Healthy Relationship?
- Partners in the relationship value each other’s opinions
- Disagreement is safely allowed and neither partner tries to control or change the other’s opinion
- Neither partner makes the other feel guilty or manipulates him/her when they are told “no”
- Partners accept responsibility for themselves; and mistakes are accepted and learned from
- Boundaries are established and respected.
- Partners support each other’s goals
- Successes are celebrated
- Failures are supported and partners assist and help each other during difficult times.
Trust and honesty
- Both partners trust each other and trust is consistently worked on in the relationship
- Honesty is important and valued in the relationship
- Partners feel comfortable and safe with each other
- Partners are honest with themselves and each other
- Communication is direct. Manipulation, intimidation, and fear are not used when partners communicate
- Listening is active. Active listening requires each of you to make sure that you really understand what they other person says.
- Decisions are negotiated and made together
- Feelings and needs are free to be expressed
- Conflict is welcomed and dealt with openly with both partners seeking a mutually acceptable outcome.
- Each partner is an individual. Neither partner defines the other.
- Each partner is confident in her/his own worth
- There is room for positive growth. Growth is encouraged and supported by partners.
- Independence and alone time is accepted and respected. Having activities independent of each other are valued.
Fairness and Equality
- Partners are accountable for their behaviors and do not blame each other for feelings or things that happen
- Forgiveness is essential and present
- There are no winners in conflicts. Compromise is equal and fair.
- Partners give and receive equally in the relationship. One partner’s needs and feelings are not catered to more then another’s.