* Healthy relationships are characterized by respect, sharing and trust. They are based on the belief that both partners are equal, that the power and control in the relationship are equally shared. Some of the characteristics of a healthy relationship are:
Respect - Listening to one another, valuing each other's opinions, and listening in a non-judgmental manner. Respect also involves attempting to understand and affirm the other's emotions.
Trust and support - Supporting each other's goals in life, and respecting each other's right to his/her own feelings, opinions friends, activities and interests. It is valuing one's partner as an individual.
Honesty and accountability - Communicating openly and truthfully, admitting mistakes or being wrong, acknowledging past use of violence, and accepting responsibility for one's self.
Shared responsibility - Making family/relationship decisions together, mutually agreeing on a distribution of work which is fair to both partners. If parents, the couple shares parental responsibilities and acts as positive non-violent role models for children.
Economic partnership - In marriage or cohabitation, making financial decisions together and making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements.
Negotiation and fairness - Being willing to compromise, accepting change, and seeking mutually satisfying solutions to conflict.
Non-threatening behavior - Talking and acting in a way that promotes both partners feelings of safety in the relationship. Both should feel comfortable and safe in expressing him/herself and engaging in activities.
Boundaries are important in determining the health of a relationship. Boundaries clarify where you stop and where I begin, which problems belong to you and which problems belong to me. What are boundaries?
"Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what is not..." - Dr. Henry Cloud
Each of us has boundaries, some of which go unspoken, in many areas of our lives. We set boundaries in regard to physical proximity and touch, the words that are acceptable when we are spoken to, honesty, emotional intimacy (such as how much we self-disclose to others.) When one or both people in a relationship have difficulty with boundaries, the relationship suffers.
The following guidelines indicate a problem in setting and enforcing boundaries:
Signs of Unhealthy Boundaries
- Telling all.
- Talking at an intimate level on the first meeting.
- Falling in love with a new acquaintance.
- Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.
- Being overwhelmed by a person. Preoccupied.
- Acting on the first sexual impulse.
- Being sexual for partner, not self.
- Going against personal values or rights to please others.
- Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries.
- Not noticing when someone else displays inappropriate boundaries.
- Accepting food, gifts, touch, sex that you don't want.
- Touching a person without asking.
- Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.
- Letting others describe your reality.
- Letting others define you.
- Believing others can anticipate your needs.
- Expecting others to fulfill your needs automatically.
- Falling apart so someone will take care of you.