WHAT IS IT LIKE TO BE IN A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP? HOW DOES IT FEEL?
Looking at my dating resume I don't think I've ever experienced a healthy relationship... well, not until now. As much as I went for the dudes that weren't good for me, I also had a couple of experiences screwing up relationships as opposed to making them work. Many of us have become so scarred and exhausted by the past that we don't even realise the signs of a healthy relationship. If anything, we feel taken back, suspicious, and somewhat confused when someone comes correct! While I'm no relationship expert, establishing a healthy relationship is often easier said than done, it requires effort from both sides and there are many facets that help establish a healthy connection like communication, commitment, empathy and trust. But these are just some of the ingredients that can help navigate problems and massively strengthen your union.
Healthy relationships don't look the same for everyone since people have different needs but generally your relationship should contribute to a sense of fulfilment, happiness, and peace. If you tend to feel more anxious, distressed, or unhappy around your partner, it could be a sign that you're overlooking some red flags and the relationship may be heading for collapse. Life is an opportunity for us to constantly learn, change and evolve; every experience has aided me in becoming more resilient, more compassionate, more present — essentially the best version of myself and therefore better equipped to lead healthy relationships with others. I'm a firm believer that relationships are a reflection of the two people in the relationship, which means that the health of a relationship can dramatically change based on how the two people are showing up in it. Being with Ed has always felt different right from the start. His calm, composed, down to earth attitude is what attracted me to him the most because quite frankly, I'm the complete opposite! When we first met I don't recall having any rush of crazy emotions or hormones and I wasn't immediately attracted to him physically — not that he wasn't good looking, he just wasn't my usual "type" per se but an intuitive knowing nudged me to at least explore the connection further.
Six months on we're still together and in the process of planning our 4th getaway! 😃 Being in a healthy relationship is so much more than physical attraction, fireworks, and a having a great time under the sheets. For the first time in my life I've finally found an incredible person who compliments me, supports me, appreciates me, and makes me a better person. While I can't predict what the future holds, I've already gained so much insight and understanding on what it takes for a relationship to thrive and go the distance. This is what I've come to realise about creating and being in a healthy relationship...
COMMUNICATING OPENLY AND REGULARLY.
Learning how to communicate in a relationship is about fulfilling your partner's needs and truly builds a stronger connection. When you've created an atmosphere where you both feel safe and free to express fears, concerns, disappointments, frustrations (along with all the positive stuff as well), there'll be less misunderstandings and conflict. I've always struggled with opening up in the past, my communication used to be stonewalling and throwing my weight around but with Ed that's never been the case. Having an emotionally intelligent partner who has clearly done the work on themselves is what separates the good apples from the not so great. Ed is a brilliant listener, attentive, displays empathy, and makes the effort to understand my point of view — these sort of qualities can massively put you at ease and create a wonderful dynamic. YOU ARE AFFECTIONATE WITH EACH OTHER. Non-sexual touch like hugging, holding hands, kissing, and cuddling is vital to a healthy relationship. Studies have shown that couples who enjoy regular physical affection tend to be happier and more satisfied with their relationship. Gestures of affection helps an individual feel loved ultimately bringing you closer together. One thing I'd say is, if you really enjoy certain gestures then don't be shy to tell your partner you want more. Forehead kisses and the surprise hugs from behind are my absolute fave! 🥰 YOU INSPIRE AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER TO BE BETTER. Ed and I have very different skills, talents, and abilities — it's something we both appreciate and often chat about our achievements expressing how proud we are of each other. Whenever Ed tells me any great news, I instantly turn into his cheerleader and vice versa; exchanging that positive energy creates a nice, uplifting environment. It's not just about work accomplishments either, simple things like motivating him to wake up earlier in the mornings or him sharing his culinary skills with me; I find we generally bring out the best in each other. Also, having shared goals is ideal, whether a holiday destination, a future home, etc — being on the same page allows you to support each other in achieving things as a team and as individuals.
YOU ACCEPT EACH OTHER. When you start discovering those annoying little habits it's easy to get irritated because you're used to doing things your way and see everything through your own lens. In reality these annoyances aren't that big of a deal yet we quickly lose sight in the moment of frustration. For example, I'm horrifying when it comes to following/giving directions and it rubs Ed up the wrong way 😂 likewise Ed is incredibly clumsy and I often give him my usual scowling expression. However, we both recognise so many other good characteristics in each other that are fundamentally much more important than the small quirks.
YOU GIVE EACH OTHER SPACE. Everyone needs the space to grow and to be themselves. Having separate time to pursue your interests, catching up with friends and family, concentrating on your career, or even having some quiet time to yourself can help you flourish as a couple. Ed and I are both ambiverts so after too much human interaction (even with each other) we just want to go back to our caves! Sundays are really chilled for us, so even if we're together in the same room I normally leave him alone to work on his projects for a few hours whilst I crack on with my knitting on the sofa or indulge in a bit of cleaning (it's very therapeutic!) Which leads me on to the next point... YOU'RE COMFORTABLE AROUND ONE ANOTHER. When you're comfortable with someone, it means you're relaxed enough around them to be who you truly are. When you're free to be yourself you can talk, joke, laugh, sing, dance, wear what you want, and most importantly for me... be makeup free! You can go between having deep conversations, talking about intellectual and emotional stuff to being silly and fun to having those comfortable silences.
YOU CAN TALK OPENLY ABOUT THE FUTURE WITHOUT FEELING WEIRD ABOUT IT. Timing is everything when it comes to talking about the future but eventually it'll happen naturally, the "I" and "me" gradually turns into "us" and "we" — in a healthy relationship these conversations won't feel pressurising or awkward because you would have already established your shared goals, you'll likely know you're on the same page and probably already made some future plan.
YOU FEEL CONFIDENT IN HOW THE OTHER PERSON FEELS.
There'll always be a bit of anxiety with a new person but in a healthy relationship your partner won't make you question whether they're into you because they'll be consistent and show that they're reliable and trustworthy. You'll feel a sense of calm because there aren't any games, you won't be left wondering what they're thinking because they communicate, and when you're with them you feel special and loved. If your intuition can warn you off bad vibes then it'll certainly pick up the good ones too.