Each New Year presents us with a great opportunity to step back and examine our lives. What’s working? What’s not? And what changes need to be made in order to produce the sort of life we want to have?
It’s easy to go negative with these thoughts, focusing on what’s wrong and resolving to change it. But sometimes it helps to focus on what’s right and celebrate what’s working.
With that goal in mind, when it comes to developing relationships, rather than focusing on the red flags we need to avoid, in this blog we want to explore four key components that are crucial to a healthy relationship. Think of them as green flags that let you know that the relationship you’re in is both safe and healthy.
Green Flag #1 – Open Communication
Communication is crucial to any healthy relationship. Whether it’s discussing something funny that happened that day or something heavy that has been causing you stress, you want to be in a relationship where you can share what’s on your mind and feel heard.
This doesn’t mean you will always agree or that there won’t be conflict – it’s a natural part of life. But healthy relationships provide space for both partners to share their thoughts, actively listen to one another and disagree without fear of retaliation.
Green Flag #2: Trust
Relationships are built on trust. After all, it’s hard to relax around someone when you don’t know whether you can safely let your guard down or let them out of your sight.
Healthy relationships require honesty and integrity, where you don’t have to fear your partner is lying or not being loyal to you behind your back.
Trust is more than just believing that they won’t cheat or lie to you.
It means you can rely on this person to do what they say. They may not do it perfectly, but they seek to be a person of their word. This sort of consistency helps create a safe, stable environment where you can let your guard down and relax.
Green Flag #3: Healthy Boundaries
Healthy relationships require interdependence, where both partners lean on one another, but that doesn’t mean each person ceases to have their own voice or opinions.
When relationships have healthy boundaries, it empowers both partners to fully enter into the relationship without fear of being controlled or taken advantage of. They can engage in heavy conversations with confidence that when they need a break, they can get it. They don’t have to fear physical intimacy since they know that when they say “no” or “not right now,” their boundary will be respected.
In short, healthy boundaries make it safe for both parties to enter into the relationship while maintaining a healthy sense of self.
Green Flag #4: Respect
All of the green flags we’ve discussed up to this point have one thing in common – they require respect between both parties. When you respect someone, you care what they have to say. You seek to maintain their trust by being honest and reliable. And you appreciate who they are as an individual. Respect is the foundation that healthy relationships are built upon.
People in truly healthy relationships don’t just have respect for one another, they also respect themselves. After all, when you know that you’re worthy of being in a relationship where you’re valued and treated with respect, you won’t put up with anything less. You will respect yourself and your partner enough to voice your needs and call out unhealthy behavior.
In no way is this list exhaustive, but if you recognize these green flags in your relationship, then you have something worth celebrating and investing in. And if you don’t, if one or more of these green flags are missing, then that’s a flag worth paying attention to. After all, you deserve to be safe, cared for, listened to and respected.
Here at Human Options, we recognize the complexity that relationships bring. We are here to support you. If you need help connecting with resources or simply an advocate to talk to, call our 24-hour toll free hotline at 877-854-3594.