“A healthy relationship is one where two independent people just make a deal that they will help make the other person the best version of themselves.” ~ Unknown.
We all say we want a healthy relationship—but are we actually ready for it?
The first, and most important, step is figuring out what constitutes a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy relationship.
In unhealthy relationships where there are narcissistic, abusive, manipulative or other negative behaviors present, we will feel common themes of fear, jealousy, intimidation and selfishness. One of the hardest parts of an unhealthy relationship is that it doesn’t always hurt—it doesn’t always feel bad—but that doesn’t mean it is a healthy relationship either.
When we are in unhealthy relationships, we may find ourselves pushing aside our own needs to try and satisfy our partner. We may also experience our partner as being in a constant state of attention seeking, both from us and others.
While actual violence can also be a part of unhealthy love, it’s not always the worst pain that someone in this type of situation can experience. These types of relationships can become addictive because when it’s good it’s very good—and because people who have a history of being in unhealthy relationships also are adept at making up in grand ways.
At one point when I was in an unhealthy relationship, I would get two or three dozen roses delivered to me the day after an argument—and while it worked for a while, eventually I began to see that it didn’t matter what was bought for me, or how sorry he was, if things weren’t ever going to change.
It’s this very cycle that is the definition of unhealthy love.
In order for us to move in a new direction in our relationships, we also need to change how we view love and togetherness.
In contrast, healthy relationships have a basis of honesty, trust, respect, friendship and openness.
It’s a type of relationship that is based in the ability to communicate whatever each is going through in their lives. Being together though, doesn’t in fact mean always being together, and that’s why in the healthiest of relationships there are times of independence for each person.
Each person is free to explore their own life, and because of that, enjoys the time spent with their partner more. There will be quiet moments, exciting times, and a gentle ease and knowing that there isn’t anything we specifically have to do in order to earn the love of our partner.
But even if we know the difference between unhealthy and healthy relationships, sometimes we aren’t always ready to make that transition from learning what we don’t want to enjoying what it is that we do.
Here are a few signs that we have done the work on ourselves to level up and start enjoying all the benefits a healthy relationship can offer:
We need more than just physical attraction to feel satisfied.
How someone looks says a lot about who they are, but at some point we stop choosing a partner based on looks alone because it’s their soul and energy we become attracted to.
Sometimes someone can become more or less attractive the deeper we get to know them. At one point, it might have been enough to have that pretty face, but after a while we just need more.
We long for a connection we feel strongly about, something that feels like it’s more than just skin deep—a relationship that might just be soul deep.
We long to be mentally stimulated by our partner.
When we are young, rarely do we say we want to be mentally stimulated by a partner, but as we get older we may find that it isn’t just about communication, but how we communicate that can be the biggest turn on.
For those who are ready for the next level of love, we often need to be stimulated and challenged by our partner and while we know that we won’t be satisfied by looks alone, it’s also about whether the person we are spending time with can meet us mentally.
It’s easy to find someone we are physically attracted to, and it can be simple enough to find someone we can enjoy activities with, but the real challenge is to find the person who doesn’t only mentally stimulate us, but can also challenge our current beliefs.
When we get to the place of craving this type of partner, we also have reached the point where not just anyone will do—and we become more selective about who we choose to spend time with.
We have our own dreams and ambitions to accomplish.
None of us will be able to truly support the dreams of someone we are with if we first don’t have our own. A healthy relationship isn’t about melting into the other person, but rather letting each person keep their own individuality.
One of the most important ways this is done is by having goals and dreams that are ours alone. This doesn’t mean we won’t need the help or support of our partner, but it does mean that we have our own life.
When we have our own definition of happiness, our own ambitions and dreams, then we also will have found the secret to making ourselves happy and satisfied—which is the foundation for being able to do that for another.
We can’t ever make ourselves feel more complete by taking on the likes and qualities of another, and the reality is we can’t be only 50 percent of the person we are meant to be. When we find ourselves becoming passionate about what motivates us, we may also be ready to share that with another in a healthy way.
We want to be inspired by the person we’re with.
For those looking for a balanced relationship, we may find ourselves wanting to be inspired by our lover. We aren’t just looking for someone who looks good on paper, but rather someone who inspires us to keep questioning those big philosophical questions about life.
We begin to appreciate how someone makes us feel and notice differences in the affect that someone else has on our inner psyche. It becomes apparent if someone drags our energy down, or brings out the worst in us—likewise, those who uplift and leave us wanting to be the best possible version of ourselves have a stimulating effect on our lives.
There is a point that we begin to see the bigger picture when it comes to love and also realize that the best possible love should also inspire us to be the best possible version of ourselves.
We stop looking for perfection.
There isn’t a perfect person or match for anyone—but if we’re truly ready to explore what a healthy relationship is then we already know that.
In this life, it’s not about perfection, but about how someone else’s qualities interact and play with ours—it’s not about if things are always easy, but if it’s worth it at the end of a long day.
We aren’t always meant to fall in love the person we think we’re supposed to end up with—instead it often ends up being someone who comes out of nowhere that ends up being exactly what we need.
When we drop our need to classify things as perfect, we are then opening ourselves up to letting reality surprise us, and discovering that maybe that can actually be better.
We know how we want to be treated within a relationship.
When we are ready for a healthy relationship, we have also discovered what it is we need from someone in order to feel satisfied.
We are comfortable stating our needs, whether it’s someone who enjoys the same activities we do, who challenges us, who takes care of us or who can match us sexually. It’s all part of our basis of needs, and the reality is that we all have them.
The difference comes when we aren’t honest with ourselves about what we need, because then we can’t help but be surprised when someone lets us down.
When we are truly ready to participate in a healthy relationship, we know which points are nonnegotiable for us, and which are flexible.
Because one of the truest signs of being ready for a healthy relationship is also being ready to state that’s what you want.
Author: Kate Rose
Image: Andrii Podilnyk/Unsplash
Editor: Nicole Cameron