Maintaining a healthy romantic relationship requires effort and dedication from both partners. Communication is key, and it’s essential to be open and honest with each other. Showing respect for one another is also critical for a healthy relationship, and this means listening to each other and valuing one another’s opinions. Intimacy is another essential factor in a healthy relationship, and partners should make an effort to create intimate moments in their day-to-day lives. Setting aside time for date night is a great way to strengthen a romantic relationship by focusing on spending quality time together. It’s important to recognize that every relationship will have disagreements, but how those disagreements are handled can make or break a relationship. Finally, holding hands, cuddling, and showing physical affection can make a significant impact on relationship satisfaction. Overall, a healthy relationship requires effort, understanding, and mutual respect.
Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, and reminding yourself of this at the beginning of dating someone can help to build a healthy relationship. Arguments are bound to happen, but there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and having a falling out and treating someone badly. Cursing and calling each other names, purposefully trying to hurt someone’s feelings during an argument, and threatening or emotionally manipulative behavior are all toxic traits in a relationship.
Boundaries are standards that you set for yourself and someone else within a relationship. Healthy boundaries allow people to connect with each other while also taking care of their individual wants and needs. People often have different boundaries from their friends, family, or sexual or romantic partners. Getting to know what makes you feel good can be very helpful for maintaining healthy relationships with other people.
For example, someone’s boundary may be that if they began to date someone they would not feel comfortable telling them certain things about their past or introducing them to their family until a later stage in a relationship. Other boundaries can include letting someone know that they cannot always expect an instant reply if they text or for you to always answer their calls. Setting boundaries is a healthy habit as it can let you take a relationship at your own pace and not feel you have to be always available to the other person or do anything you are not comfortable with.
Examples of setting boundaries:
When starting a relationship it is good to recognize that people feel comfortable taking certain steps at different times. For example, if you meet someone on an online dating platform you might feel you are ready to meet up with them but they may still only be comfortable messaging or speaking on the phone. There are many different stages in a relationship and there is no set point or timeframe for reaching these. Every relationship is different and will progress at a different pace. What is important is that you and who you are seeing are comfortable with the situation and that no one feels under pressure to do something before they are ready.
If you do not feel comfortable with a situation and someone becomes angry or sulks because of that, they are not taking into consideration your feelings and what is best for you. It is easy to feel under pressure in these situations to change your mind to make the other person happy, but whoever you are seeing should care about you being comfortable, respect what you say, and not make you do anything you do not want to. Similarly, if you are seeing someone and feel like things should be moving faster or want them to do something that they do not want to, it is not okay to put pressure on them or make them feel guilty because they are not ready.
When you start a new relationship you might decide that you would like the relationship to be sexual. Whatever you are ready for, this might be different from what your partner is ready for and you should never assume they are at the same stage as you. For example, you might be ready for your partner to see you naked and to touch one another, but they may be comfortable with touching with clothes on instead.
Talking to your partner about what they are comfortable with happening and sharing what you wish to happen allows you both to be aware of the boundaries around your physical interactions. It enables you to get their consent before doing anything, which is an essential part of a relationship and also to share your consent with them, which is equally important.
When having sex, consent is an agreement between both partners that they definitely want to have sex, or do any sexual act. Both partners need to fully and clearly agree to it, and it must be continuous for the duration of sex. That means that either partner has the right to change their mind at any time.
Consent is needed every time you want to do any sexual act with someone and just because you or your partner may have agreed previously, that does not mean you have to agree again. When having sex no one should feel under pressure to do anything they don’t want to and it is important to recognize that with your partner.
Openly talking to your partner about consent can help to build a relationship of mutual trust and respect and create an intimate relationship that works for you both. Read our article on consent and find out about making it an essential part of your relationships.
Spending time with someone when you first start seeing them can be amazing and whether it is in person or online it may be all that you want to do. Having someone show interest in you can feel great but if they want to spend all their time with you, or expect to be able to contact you at all times this can be a warning sign that they may be controlling or too dependent on you. Having space from one another and enjoying time apart, both in person and online, is a healthy part of any relationship, and establishing this as a boundary at the beginning can help to strengthen positive relationships. If someone is not willing to maintain these boundaries, they may not be emotionally prepared to be in a relationship.
Being able to listen to someone when they speak and take on board what they are saying can make a big difference in relationships. Sometimes it can be easy to butt in when someone is speaking if you don’t agree with what they are saying or feel you have good advice to give. However, making an active effort to listen to someone while they speak can help develop positive communication skills in a relationship and in doing so help to prevent arguments.
Being able to recognize when you are in the wrong and apologize is a great skill to have and it can help to strengthen relationships. Whether you meant to hurt someone or not, apologizing is a way to show another person that you understand that you did do something hurtful. Whatever has happened, being able to say you’re sorry gives both of you a chance to let go of any resentment or negative feelings and move on.
Offering an apology can also help to make the relationship with the other person stronger. It shows them that you care about their feelings and recognize that you did something to hurt them. If you not only show that you’re sorry but explain what you will do in the future to change, it can strengthen trust. However, if a person always says sorry but continues the hurtful behavior, it may be a sign of a toxic relationship. Read our article on how to say “I’m sorry”.
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