Healthy romantic relationships
People who have healthy romantic relationships are more likely to feel happier and satisfied with their lives, and they are less likely have experience physical and mental ill-health.
Signs of a healthy relationship
We all want healthy relationships in our lives, so below are some of the key commonalities that are seen across all types of relationships.
- Equality, where both people in the relationship feel like they can talk about their experiences or speak their minds without feeling worried, scared or criticised.
- Having mutual respect for the other person even if you don’t agree on everything.
- Respect for each other’s values, opinions and boundaries.
- Good communication, involving both talking and listening and appreciating the other person’s point of view.
- Trust and loyalty.
- Having separate identities where you can each be yourself while being together.
We all have ideas about how our relationships should proceed, but when these expectations are not met, they can lead to disappointment. Having realistic expectations built on a base of strong communication is the key to a healthy relationship.
Having high relationship expectations sounds great; however, when an expectation is not met, you can become disappointed. For example, if you expect your partner to show that they love you in a certain way, and they don’t show it that way, you most likely will be upset. This may not be so much a problem with your partner, but with an unrealistic expectation you place on them.
It is important to distinguish between expectations and needs. Everyone has a need to be loved, to be understood, to be accepted and to be forgiven when necessary. To have unrealistic expectations about how those needs get fulfilled can only cause disappointment. Some examples of unhealthy expectations include:
- This relationship will solve all my problems.
- My relationship should look like everyone else’s.
- I will not have to make sacrifices if the relationship is right.
- Real love is just like it is in the movies.
- They will change for me if they love me.
- True love can overcome all things.
What to do
Healthy relationships don’t just happen; they take time to build and need work to keep them healthy. The more positive effort you put into a relationship, the healthier it will be. What you water, grows.
Making time to cultivate a healthy relationship can be a major issue, especially when you are studying. It is important that you make a commitment to your study and your future by making university work a top priority. This can mean that at times you will need to explain to your friends, family and partner that this is not forever, and ask them for their understanding at exam times. This is not an excuse to take people for granted or take your stress out on them, but it is important to ask people around you for their support in times of stress.
Every relationship will have ups and downs, but it will always take work, even when things are going well. Successful relationships are ones where both partners don’t have unrealistic expectations of each other. Instead, they love each other, have mutual appreciation and respect, and show each other this by their actions and words. It is important to clarify expectations that you and your partner hold towards each other and modify according to what is realistic and achievable for you both.
At Deakin, you can make an appointment with Deakin's Counselling service.
1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) provide domestic family and sexual violence counselling services.
More help and advice
Deakin staff have shared their tips on the warning signs to look out for in relationships.
Visit healthdirect for information on building and maintaining healthy relationships.
headspace provide information on building healthy romantic relationships and tips on setting emotional, financial, digital and physical boundaries.
Kids Helpline provide a series of questions you can ask yourself if you suspect that something is not right with your relationships.
ReachOut provide information on the challenges that come with being in relationships and ways to handle them.