Your partner may be the light of your life, but that doesn't necessarily mean your relationship is healthy. Understanding what constitutes healthy relationships can help you make changes that lead to new heights of intimacy, happiness and fulfillment. On the flip side, it can also help you determine when it's time to leave a relationship. No relationship is perfect, but there are several standard elements that should exist in all healthy relationships.
Trust means more than keeping secrets and being faithful. When you trust your partner, you feel a sense of safety and security in the relationship. Trust allows both partners to reach high levels of intimacy and closeness. It also allows you to set boundaries and know they'll be respected, according to Young Women's Health.
2. Mutual Respect
Healthy relationships have two partners who respect each other for who they are. Respectful behaviors include considering your partner when you make decisions that affect the relationship, treating your partner with love and kindness and refraining from saying hurtful things during disagreements.
3. Healthy Communication
Healthy communication helps partners solve disagreements in a respectful manner, but it can also help prevent disagreements altogether, says the University of Texas at Austin's Counseling and Mental Health Center. That's because healthy communication helps convey your needs, wants, opinions and feelings to your partner in a calm, assertive and loving way.
4. Absence of Physical Violence
In healthy relationships, one partner never puts his or her hands on the other partner in a violent or menacing way. If your partner uses physical violence, no matter how sorry he or she is afterward, that's not the partner for you. Abusive partners act from a need to control and dominate, not from a respectful place of equal power.
5. Absence of Mental or Emotional Violence
Physical violence isn't the only type of relationship violence, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you're in a healthy relationship, your partner should never call you names, intimidate you, control you or force you to perform sexual acts. These are types of mental, emotional and sexual abuse.
Your relationship with your partner shouldn't be the only significant relationship in your life, according to the CDC. Healthy individuals have their own friends, family members, interests and opinions outside the relationship.
7. Common Interests
No two people have everything in common, but people in healthy relationships have an overall respect for each other's interests and hobbies. Even when they participate in activities they're not interested in, they enjoy spending time together.
8. Equal Power
Healthy relationships are an equal 50/50 split. No one partner is the boss. Both partners discuss family decisions and have equal say. This means both partners have input in everything from picking the Friday night movie to making the family budget.
9. Similar Goals
Even though new relationships don't need to focus on long-term goals, more serious relationships can suffer when both partners aren't on the same page. When one partner wants children, marriage or to live in a particular location and the other doesn't, it can lead to resentments and unhappiness.
Your partner may not like everything you do, but she should always support your choices. For example, she may miss spending time with you, but she will never discourage you from going to school or work. In a healthy relationship, your partner always has your back.
11. Healthy Sexuality
Both partners in a healthy relationship share similar sexual values. They feel safe enough to express their sexual desires and never worry that their partners will force them to do things they're uncomfortable with. Healthy sexuality also includes agreeing on methods of contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
Even if your relationship is absent of unhealthy relationship characteristics, it doesn't mean it's right for you. At the end of the day, you have to feel happy about your decision to be with your partner. All couples have their rough patches, but overall, your relationship should make you happy more than often than not.