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.
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
- 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.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie 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.