Oct 302011
 

How do you know if you’re in a healthy relationship? These signs of real love will help you figure out if your relationship will last – and if it’s good for you.

First, here’s one of my favorite quips:

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ~ Indian proverb.

The best time to leave an unhealthy relationship was when it first started to go bad. The best time to leave an unhealthy relationship is now!

If you’re confused about your relationship, chances are it isn’t healthy. Is it worth saving, worth fighting for? I don’t know…only you can answer that. Reading books like Deal Breakers: When to Work On a Relationship and When to Walk Away will help.

And so will these tips…

What is a Healthy Relationship? 5 Signs of Real Love

These signs of healthy relationships are inspired by two readers’ comments about their unhealthy relationships. Sometimes you have to look at what isn’t real love to see what real love is.

You don’t feel manipulated or controlled – physically or emotionally

“I’m 19 years old and have been with my boyfriend for about six months,” says L. “When we first got together he was extremely paranoid and possessive. We took a break (broke up) and he promised to change, so I took him back. I found out 4 weeks ago I am pregnant. Since then he has threatened to hit me, has tried to stop me seeing my friends and has become more paranoid of me cheating on him. I am breaking up with him but am scared about the child and the lengths he will go to get custody. I know I am not going to put up with him anymore but I don’t know what rights he has with the child.”

Her boyfriend is a manipulative, controlling man who tries to isolate her from her friends and accuses her of cheating. L. is falling into the cycle of violence or abuse dynamic: he tries to manipulate and control her, she withdraws or breaks up with him, and he turns on the charm.

If this sounds like your relationship (unhealthy!), read The Abuse Dynamic – Why Women Who Are Abused Can’t Walk Away.

A sign of real love is treating each other with respect and acceptance. Does your partner encourage and support your plans, goals, and dreams? Does he listen to your thoughts and opinions without trying to change them? Does he accept you for who you are, and treat your body and mind with care and consideration? That’s what healthy relationships are all about.

You feel strong and able to stand up to your partner

“I’m not strong enough not to take him back if he tries to get back together,” says L. “It’s hard to focus on the bad things he said and did to me. He can be such a manipulative person.”

You’re in an unhealthy relationship if your partner does bad things to do or makes you feel bad. It’s as simple as that: real love does NOT make you feel bad about who you are. Do you feel bad about yourself because of your partner? Did you choose your partner because you feel bad about yourself? Those are signs of unhealthy relationships.

Is your marriage in trouble? Get a free marriage assessment and relationship advice.

If you're dealing with a breakup, read How to Let Go of Someone You Love
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The good parts outweigh the bad parts of the relationship

Let’s face it: even the healthiest relationships have bad parts, weaknesses, problems, and shortcomings. We’re human. We’re not perfect, so our relationships aren’t perfect.

A sign of real love is feeling good about your partner, your relationship, and yourself most of the time.

Here’s what one reader says:

“I’m in an unhealthy relationship, and it’s so hard for me to leave,” says J. “When we are happy (not fighting), I could never leave. I get the urge to leave whenever we fight but I know that I will miss what it’s like when we’re not fighting. I am walking on eggshells every day, never knowing what is going to set him off…”

Are you happy with your partner more often than unhappy with him? Does the good outweigh the bad? Are there more happy, positive interactions than negative, painful ones? If you’re wondering what a healthy relationship is, step back and look at your relationship objectively.

You can be yourself in your relationship – a sign of real love!

“It’s very hard to deal with never knowing what will upset him,” says J. “I’ve become a silent person. I do not go out much, and I’m usually not able to use the car I bought, but he does. He has such a hold on me, yet I can’t leave. I am one of those women who don’t want to leave because of the children, they love him soo much and we are a very tight family other than what happens behind closed doors.”

If you’re not blossoming in your relationship, then it’s not healthy. A sign of real love is growing to be a better, stronger, happier person. If you feel suffocated, silenced, or sad because of what’s going on behind the closed doors of your relationship, then you know as well as I do that it’s not healthy.

You are an equal partner in your relationship

“You need to have give-and-take in your relationship,” writes psychologist D’Arcy Lyness in Am I in a Healthy Relationship? “Do you take turns choosing which new movie to see? As a couple, do you hang out with your partner’s friends as often as you hang out with yours? It’s not like you have to keep a running count and make sure things are exactly even, of course. But you’ll know if it isn’t a pretty fair balance. Things get bad really fast when a relationship turns into a power struggle, with one person fighting to get his or her way all the time.”

If you don’t feel like you have a voice in your relationship, then it’s not healthy.

More Signs of Healthy Relationships and Real Love:

  • Good communication
  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Support in good and bad times
  • Separate identities

If you’re in an unhealthy relationship, read Controlling Relationships and Addictive Love – How to Walk Away.

If you see signs of real love in your relationship, but you feel insecure because of your own emotional baggage, read Do You Feel Insecure and Unsure in Your Relationship? 5 Solutions.

About Me

quips tips love relationshipsI'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.

  One Response to “What is a Healthy Relationship? 5 Signs of Real Love”

  1. Hello! So here’s my story. I left my partner 4 months ago after a drunken row which like many big rows ended up aggressive. It was over him sleeping in the same bed as another women his supposed friend when we were on a break which he lied about. I got so mad I slapped him in the chest and through toilet rolls at him before going to bed I know I shdnt have done tht. My ex firstly threw the side table at me in bed (he said it was meant to be thrown next to me in anger). I rang my mother who sent my father to collect me from our home. He then proceeded to verbally attack me with the usual ‘your so thick, pathetic, fat a want to be gossip girl’. He goaded me until I bit and then ran up the stairs and through me onto the floor holding me by my throat and biting my ear (he claimed he pinched it but it was very badly bruised). He said if I left him and wldnt let him see our son hed rip my head off. I didn’t utter a word becos I knew it wld provoke a reaction, crying he video recorded me trying to encourage me to say on video tht we wld share joint custody (he claimed he was holding his phone becos he dropd it not recording however he always has his phone hidden away. My father came and he acted so innocent like I was being dramatic. I think my father believed him having endure years of emotional abuse from my mother they have had there fair share of bust ups. At first I was triumphant in my decision and full of relief. Now however I am starting to doubt my decision. I have lived with my parents for the last four months. My mother constantly puts me down, she says I have issues, I’m a horrible bitch, she doesn’t love me, I think I’m perfect and I’m not. She constantly critises my parenting even tho she has been no means perfect both emotionally and physically whilst growing up. My father says that I should ignore her and I not bite that I should knw now how horrible she can be. I am now however starting to wonder if I am the one who has the problem. Both my mother and long term partner have felt the need to treat me this way and surely that must be for a reason. I can lose my temper with my mother I almost feel as though she is constantly trying to attack me. If I ever made my son feel like that I would be absolutely devastated knowing what I have been through so for her to critisise my parenting its really hurtful for me to take. Now I have found a flat to move into, it will be tough but I can do it with money left over, its in a nice area with a fantastic school so y do I feel so guilty? My ex has been remorseful recently, now he says he is giving up the home I left behind and has been really upset about me moving on and I can’t help but wonder if the reason he acted the way he did was becos I am infact behaving like my mother by verbally attacking him like I did that night. Apart from disagreeing on certain aspects of family life ie time spent together the usual, and his sauded sense of humour we do get on usually. He has been supportive I can be emotionally needy at times. He doesn’t try to control my whereabouts or spending however it did turn out tht he was keeping money aside from the family. He also didn’t want to marry and tht was important to me. As I go to take the final step of moving on I’m doubting if this is the right thing to do. My son loves his father dearly and I don’t want him to ever resent me. My mother said to me the other week, I was horrible to u, my father was horrible to me and u are going to be horrible to him (my son) becos u r the same as me with her usual evil stare look. I just can’t bare the thought of that I love my son so much I just want him to love me bk and want to do the best for him. Maybe going bk to his father in our nicer home and just biting my tongue a bit more and giving my ex more respect and being more grateful is what I should do? There is so much more to this story, also its not the first time he has physically attacked me. But I worry my own attitude/behaviour is at fault as my own mother tells me. Do u think I should wait to move out or consider therapy to move back? Thanks for ur time and sorry for any bad grammer.

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