What does it mean to have a healthy (romantic) connection with someone? What are the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships? Building a healthy connection with someone? How do you build a healthy connection with someone? These questions and others plague us when we are in pursuit of love and meaningful connections with someone.
When a romantic relationship is unhealthy or unhappy it impacts every other aspect of your life. Having a healthy and happy relationship takes work, time, and consistency and is well worth the effort. Research has shown consistently that social connections, romantic and platonic, are essential for physical and mental health. People with healthy connections and relationships are also reported to have better overall health, engage in healthy behaviors, and to have an overall better quality of life.
Many relationship professionals will tell you that a healthy connection includes characteristics like trust, respect, honesty, listening and open communication, compromise, and others. A healthy connection is also based on things like respecting and maintaining each other’s independence, privacy, and space, being on equal footing to avoid a power imbalance, feeling comfortable expressing thoughts, feelings, and concerns with each other, being physically safe with each other, and setting boundaries in such a way that enables you to meet each other’s needs in ways you are both comfortable with.
In contrast, unhealthy connections and relationships are plagued by elements like disrespect, control, and violence. It is important to recognize the signs of an unhealthy connection before they escalate. Some additional characteristics of an unhealthy connection are hostility, dishonesty, dependence, physical and/or sexual violence, intimidation, criticism and ridicule, disengagement, passive-aggressive behavior, a lack of communication, and others.
Building a healthy connection from the beginning of a relationship is an important step as it lays the foundation for the health of the relationship over time. It can be hard to find the time to invest in building a healthy connection with someone these days between life and work and time spent connecting remotely with people rather than in person but this does not mean it is impossible to build a healthy connection. An important first step is to establish what your “relationship risk” is.
Taking this relationship risk assessment and evaluating your scores as a single who is dating or someone in an active relationship can help you assess whether there is more work for you and/or your partner to do before you settle down or if you still have growing to do to reduce your risk. The best way to approach the assessment is to answer honestly, take it now and again in 6 months, then use the results as a tool to start important conversations with yourself and your partner.
The journey to building healthy connections is not always an easy one and may require using other resources along the way. On April 19, Brand New Me will host the Complemented Not Completed workshop covering healthy connections, positive relationships, self-work, and much more. Join us!