Few things are more baffling than romance. Sometimes unhealthy relationships can feel excitingly intoxicating, and it’s difficult to know whether your current choice of partner is really a good fit for you. It can be hard to think clearly about such an emotional topic, especially when you’re swept up in the honeymoon phase of a new relationship. Yes, correctly reading the signs that you have a healthy romantic life can get tricky, especially when you’re feeling uncertain but want everything to work out with a particular partner. Broadly speaking, how do healthy relationships differ from unhealthy ones, and how do you know if your romantic life is going in the right direction?
Answering such tough questions requires expert backup. So to learn more, I reached out to relationship expert and author Dr. Logan Levkoff, who is dedicated to providing honest, straightforward information about sex and relationships. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Life Education from New York University, so it’s safe to say she has given this love stuff a lot of thought. In our exchange, she explained that communication, respect, and admiration are crucial keys to healthy relationships. Here are her signs that indicate your love life's on the right track.
1. You’re Happy
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but how many of us have slogged through dissatisfying relationships for far too long just because it felt easier than being single? It’s easy to get caught up in the societal pressure for partnership and forget to make sure your relationship is a bright spot in your life, but Levkoff says, " good relationship makes you happy, both as an individual and as a partner."
2. You Appreciate One Another
Levkoff also stressed the importance of grounding the relationship in mutual respect and appreciation for one another. And Psychology Today backs up this idea; in fact, respect may be more important than love for relationship success.
3. You Have More Than A Physical Attraction
“Lust is important but not enough to sustain a partnership for the long run,” Levkoff says. If you and your partner still like one another beyond the honeymoon phase, then this is a good sign
4. You Can Fight Fairly
Even when facing major life changes and stressful events that trigger arguments, couples in healthy relationships can find ways to disagree while maintaining respect for one another.
“You learn more about a relationship in stressful times than when everything is blissful,” Levkoff says. If you can agree to disagree in a productive, respectful manner, then this bodes well for your future together. However, arguments that devolve into name calling and judgements are not healthy for anyone.
5. You Have Separate Identities
“Your life doesn't revolve around being someone's partner/girlfriend/wife,” Levkoff says. “You have an identity beyond being the arm candy for someone else.” Being attached at the hip is one thing, but it’s crucial that both partners maintain a sense of self while in a relationship. Maintaining your own career, hobbies, and friendships is healthy.
6. You Can Talk Through Any Issue
“If you cannot have a conversation with the person you are sharing your life with, it doesn't bode well for the relationship,” Levkoff says. Can you and your partner discuss any issue, whether big (children, marriage) or small (who will take out the trash tonight)? Congratulations -- you are well on your way toward a healthy relationship.