Basic benchmarks for good relationships
This page arose from an online discussion about what makes a relationship healthy. After chewing on it for a while, here’s what I came up with:
- Am I striving to treat others with compassion, even when it’s hard? Am I being treated with compassion?
- Does this relationship offer me the opportunity to grow and develop in the way that feeds me and makes me happy? Does it offer the same opportunities to all the other people involved?
- Am I moving with courage in this relationship? Are the people around me moving with courage? That is, do the people involved say things like “I think this will make me happy, so I will reach for it” rather than “”I have been hurt before, so I better not”? Do they say “Here are the things that scare me, and here are the things you can do to help support me” rather than “Here is a list of things I forbid you to do”?
- Does this relationship help me to be the best possible version of myself? When I look around at the other folks involved, do I see the best of them?
- Can I say whatever I need to say, whenever I need to say it, and have a reasonable expectation that I will be heard and understood? Am I creating an environment where everyone else can tell me what they need to say, even if it’s something I don’t want to hear, and I will hear it?
- Is this relationship fair to everyone concerned? Not “fair” as in “everyone gets the same thing,” but “fair” in that “everyone has a hand in the relationship, everyone’s voice can be heard, and everyone has the ability to help build the things that make their parts of it happy and healthy.”
- Does this relationship give all the people involved the opportunity and support they need to pursue their joy?
- Are the people in the relationship committed to handling conflict, when it comes up, in a constructive, positive, and reasonable way, rather than with anger or antagonism?
- Do the people involved forgive one another their lapses and fallibilities?
- Does each person in the relationship have a say in knowing what’s best for him or her, rather than one person dictating what’s best for others?
These, I think, make a good starting point for determining whether or not a relationship is good.
These ideas only work, however, if they are reciprocated by your partners. Making a healthy relationship requires everyone to treat one another well. It takes all the people cinvolved to make a relationship healthy, but only one person can make it dysfunctional!
If you feel like your partner isn't tresting you this way, or you feel like you're always walking on eggshells, or if your partner becomes violent or angry if you say or d o something they don't like, ir if your partner engages in behavior like cutting you down, insulting you, calling you names, hitting the wall near you, or destroying your property when they're upset, those are all clear warning signs of a dysfunctional relationship that should not be ignored.
You can buy a poster of the ideals and principles that help make for good relationships.
Last updated: Sun Nov 15, 2020