After having been abused, be it emotional, physical, or sexual, whether it happened when you were a child or an adult, by a relative or a partner, it's difficult to know what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. Sometimes it's hard to even imagine that one can exist. We know what unhealthy looks like, and we know what unhealthy feels like, but sometimes it's not so easy to know what healthy looks and feels like.
This thread isn't to talk about what's unhealthy. Lauren set up a nice thread here to talk about what characteristics an abuser might have, so if that's what you want to talk about, please feel free to join the discussion there.
This thread, however, is to talk about what characteristics a healthy relationship has. I hope this may become a useful discussion for people to gain some hope and encouragement from, but also to gain some perspective and insight into their own relationships. Let's try and keep this thread as positive as possible. Please feel free to post your own stories about your healthy relationships, but do keep in mind that this is an opinion thread and, as always, let's not be judgmental of others.
-------------------- Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.--Monty Python and the Holy Grail Posts: 2726 | From: North America | Registered: Apr 2007
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Over the years, what seems to be the most common thread for me is that when it feels more like a friendship than anything else, I can know it's all good. I mean that in some ways, a partner feels like family.
Mind, I'm going to qualify that because I know for me, it took me nearly as long to really learn what good friendships were as much as good romantic relationships: perhaps even longer.
When I say like a friendship, I mean that the vibe of the thing may have the kind of charge we see in sexual or romantic relationships per chemistry, but I think there is a certain amplified drama with abusive relationships or those which are just plain dysfunctional.
In my early twenties, I was actually so clueless that sound, healthy relationships were just often clam that I mistook a great relationship for one where something was missing. In hindsight, the only thing missing was dysfunction.
More? I keep an eye out for how things go in conflicts: can they be pretty easily resolved without a lot of emotional escalation? Can differing wants and needs in a day just be accepted rather than turning into power struggles? Can either of us be pretty accepting of the fact that we may or may not always be together, or not always be together romantically? Are we both pretty flexible in any kind of roles in the relationship? Is it without double-standards of any kind?
Another biggie is just that the love I get and give feels pretty unconditional: not that there aren't limits and boundaries, mind, but that simply being LOVED, in and of itself, is something I can count on even at times when a partner and I aren't getting along famously, or someone isn't getting what they want.
-------------------- Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen About Me • Get our book! Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead Posts: 63668 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000
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A good word to describe the feeling in a healthy relationship would be 'comfortable'. Feeling like you can just kick back and be yourself and not have to worry what you say or how you look or how your behaviour will be perceived by the other person, and also the knowledge that the other person feels the same way.
Another feeling is that of security. By that I mean not being afraid of conflict or to voice an opinion you know might be unpopular, but to know that, whatever comes up, you can talk about it and work it out and that, even if things are tough for a while, you can rely on each other and know that the love is still there.
I think Heather nailed it when she said that a partner can feel like family. What that means for me is that I acknowledge that we'll fight, and that we may drift apart, and that we'll grow and change, but also that we are connected and able to talk about whatever happens, and to adjust as the relationship shifts, and that through that we can always rely on each other when it counts, no matter what.
And, of course, big part of a healthy relationship is always being treated with respect and care, and doing the same for a partner.
-------------------- -joey Scarleteen Volunteer
"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand Posts: 8455 | From: Cologne, Germany | Registered: Sep 2005
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*both partners feel comfortable asserting themselves, and they respect each other's boundaries. Not grudgingly, either, but in a positive manner.
On that note, the best thing I've heard from a guy recently, in response to my saying I wasn't sure about seeing him again as soon as he would have liked, was "That's fine. I want to make sure you're comfortable." I really DID feel more comfortable simply because he responded that way.
*both partners feel good about themselves within the relationship, and feel like it brings out the best in them
*both partners felt good about themselves before entering into the relationship, too
*both partners are comfortable taking time to be by themselves or with friends, and pursuing their own individual interests
Posts: 147 | From: USA | Registered: Jul 2007
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