If you’re in a relationship, and even when you’re not, you probably have a running list in your head of couples that you admire, like the absolutely amazing Beth and Randall from This Is Us. These are the couples that make us believe in love, whose communication is so solid that you believe nothing could break them apart, and the ones who make tying your life to another person look pretty darn flawless. In other words, #relationshipgoals!
But how do you know if you are in one of those kind of relationships? According to Holly Daniels, PhD, LMFT, and clinical systems director at Sober College, you need to know if and when you are in a healthy relationship. HipLatina spoke with Daniels in order to find out exactly why healthy relationships are important, signs that your relationship is healthy or not, and how to make sure that you find exactly the kind of healthy relationship you’ve always admired. Read on for our interview.
HipLatina: First of all, tell us why healthy relationships are so important.
Holly Daniels: “People in healthy relationships have lower blood pressure, better digestion, better sleep and better quality of life overall. So, finding a healthy relationship can bring a lot of benefits. We are communal creatures biologically, so we are actually wired for healthy relationship. It is important to note that these benefits come with all healthy relationships, including healthy relationships with family members and friends, not just romantic relationships. So, if you haven’t found your life-long partner yet, don’t worry. You can still enjoy the benefits of healthy relationships with others in your life while you patiently wait for Mr. Right to come into your life.”
HL: If a woman is looking to cultivate a healthy relationship, what can she do? What should she consider and look out for?
HD: “The number one mistake that many women make when trying to find a healthy relationship is that they rush the process. I have people ask me, ‘What signs should I look for on a first date?’ The truth is, it is very difficult to know whether or not someone is a good partner or a healthy person on the first date. You may need to date someone for months before you really get to know them and know how capable they are of maintaining a healthy relationship. So my number one piece of advice is Take Your Time and don’t rush into love. My second piece of advice is — believe people’s actions, not their words. If someone tells you that they are dependable, loyal, and kind, but they show up late for the second date, don’t show up for the third date at all, and then act grumpy with you when you call to see if they’re all right, believe the actions, not the words. Even if they come back later and apologize and try to convince you that they’re great, believe the actions, not the words. Also, observe how they treat and talk about other people. If your partner is rude to waiters and makes a lot of comments about how other people around them are overweight or ugly, know that it is just a matter of time before they begin being rude to you and judging your shape and size.”
HL: So, tell us, what are some signs that you are in a healthy relationship?
HD: “For the most part, healthy relationships are communicative relationships. A healthy relationship is one in which both partners feel like they can express their needs and be heard, accepted, and respected by the other. Your partner may not be able to fulfill all of your needs, but if your partner works hard to understand you and tries their best to meet some of your needs, you’re on the right track. You should be able to trust your partner too — not necessarily trust that they will satisfy your every whim, but trust them to be able to handle difficult conversations and be open, honest and available.”
HL: On the other hand, what are some signs that a couple is in an unhealthy relationship?
HD: “Every relationship is unique. Some couples talk more than others and some couples fight more than others and some couples make love more than others, so it isn’t always easy to measure the health of a relationship by these kinds of details. But, if the partners cannot trust one another, the relationship is probably unhealthy. Relationships are hard work, but they should feel good overall. Each partner should be able to relax within the relationship. If your relationship leaves you feeling sad, scared or angry on a regular basis, you may need to reconsider being in that relationship.”
HL: How can a couple improve their relationship if it’s not quite as healthy as it should be
HD: “Communication is key. In healthy relationships, each partner should feel comfortable talking about what aspects of the relationship they would like to improve, and trust that their partner will be able to listen respectfully. Conversely, each partner should be able to listen to the other. When couples can communicate, they can work together to decide for themselves how they want to address potential problems in the relationship. Sometimes, though, even when a relationship has many healthy elements, one or both of the partners has difficulty either sharing what is wrong or listening respectfully to what is wrong. In those cases, it is important to find a couple’s counselor who can help open the lines of communication.”