Relationships can have a profound impact on our happiness, health and well-being throughout the course of our lives. Several studies have shown that having strong social connections throughout adulthood can improve mental and physical health, boost immune system functioning, ease recovery from illness or injury, and lengthen life spans.1
Healthy relationships require honesty, trust, mutual respect and open communication between partners. They also take a lot of give and take, including compromises and sacrifice. If one person is constantly getting their way or has a sense of entitlement, it may be time to reassess the relationship.
People typically feel a rush of new love at the beginning of a relationship, which is called new relationship energy (NRE). This is a natural reaction to having a good connection with someone and it can be the source of many of our mistakes in relationships.
As a relationship progresses, the two people begin to learn more about each other and build a deeper understanding of their differences. They are no longer focused on being “perfect” for each other and instead support each other in their journeys toward becoming the best versions of themselves.
The relationship may become more serious, and a commitment to each other is made in the form of engagement or marriage. The couple begins to talk about the future, and this includes discussions about the kids they hope to have together, financial plans and how to raise them.
In a long-term, committed relationship, each person takes responsibility for their actions and words. The couple is able to discuss important issues and resolve conflicts in a mature, responsible manner. The couple also supports each other in their pursuits of personal goals and professional success.
There is a high level of intimacy in the relationship, which is defined by frequent, intimate touch (holding hands, hugging and kissing), as well as meaningful conversations and activities. Frequent, affectionate contact increases the body’s production of oxytocin, which promotes bonding and attachment.
Having a good bond with your significant other also means accepting that they have their own interests, friends and hobbies that they value separate from the relationship. Your partner should also respect your privacy and allow you to spend time with your friends without them.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that a relationship should bring you joy. If you find yourself looking forward to spending time with your partner and feel like they make you a better version of yourself, then it is a healthy relationship. It’s also a sign that you care deeply about each other and want to share your lives with each other.