In a healthy relationship, both you and your partner feel connected to each other and are satisfied with how the relationship is going.
That may sound obvious, but an estimated 40% to 50% of marriages, in particular, in the US end in divorce. So establishing a healthy relationship is often easier said than done.
There are many factors that make up a healthy relationship, like commitment and trust, which can help you navigate problems and stay together.
Here are 10 signs that you’re in a healthy relationship.
1. You trust each other
Successful couples trust each other in a number of different areas like money, faithfulness, and parenting styles, to name a few.
“When people can trust their spouse in navigating these issues effectively, the relationship can move forward in a healthy way,” says Samantha Saltz, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice.
Research shows just how important trust is — a 2013 study of married couples found that partners who trust each other are more likely to feel satisfied in their relationship. The study measured trust using three scales, predictability, dependability, and faith in your partner.
2. You can communicate clearly
Clear and direct communication is a sign of a healthy relationship for two main reasons, says Chris Leeth, PhD, LPC-S, a professor of counseling at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
- It suggests that both partners are able to express their wants and needs in a way that the other person can understand.
- Both partners can hear what the other person is saying and understand what is being conveyed.
This kind of communication can help you connect to your partner, express yourself honestly, and resolve any conflicts that may come up.
A 2018 review of 15 studies found that couples were more satisfied in their relationships when they used communication skills like making constructive statements and clarifying the other person’s meaning.
It can be helpful to have regularly scheduled check-ins, to make sure you are both communicating and on the same page.
3. You feel independent from your partner
“It’s important that members of a relationship have their own identity independent of their partner,” Saltz says. This can mean having your own interests and hobbies, or having friendships that are separate from your relationship.
When you see yourself as an individual, it may also be easier to identify your own wants and needs and communicate them to your partner.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t work as a team. “Intimate relationships are all about finding a balance between ‘I’ and ‘We’,” says Emily Jordan Jensen, PhD,a licensed marriage and family therapist and professor of behavioral health at the University of Minnesota.
4. You appreciate each other
Studies show that appreciating your partner is one of the strongest predictors of whether or not couples feel satisfied in a relationship.
That’s because appreciating your partner and the things they do for you can help each of you feel loved and satisfied in the relationship. Being grateful for your partner allows you to focus on their positive traits and may help balance out any conflicts.
5. Both partners have their needs met
A healthy relationship involves a balance, where each partner’s needs are equally important. Your needs in a relationship can include many things, including quality time, communication, or sex.
A balanced relationship is much more healthy than codependent or controlling relationships, where “one partner will almost always have their wants fulfilled, and the other will go wanting,” Leeth says.
6. You have disagreements
“Conflict is not a sign of a relationship that is in trouble, but unacknowledged or unresolved conflict can be,” Jensen says.
If you never have any disagreements with your partner, this could be a sign that you’re ignoring problems, which could lead to resentments or bigger disagreements down the line, Leeth says.
As long as your arguments stay respectful, they can help you learn more about yourself, your partner, and the relationship. “Expect for there to be conflict at times and use conflict as an opportunity for growth as a couple and as an individual,” Saltz says.
7. You’re able to resolve conflicts
If a disagreement does occur, people in a healthy relationship should be able to work through it together.
Resolving conflicts can be a sign of your commitment to the relationship. “It shows that both partners are willing to stay in the relationship even when there’s discord,” Leeth says.
Resolving conflicts well is also a sign that you have good communication and mutual respect, says Leeth.
A 2019 study found that married couples who were able to problem solve together were more likely to be satisfied with their relationship.
“Conflict that gets effectively resolved usually leads to an increase in intimacy and a sense of collaboration and empowerment for couples,” Jensen says.
8. You spend some time apart
“Alone time is healthy,” Saltz says, adding that, “people need time to decompress and have physical space to themselves.”
The amount of alone time you need can vary from person to person. Taking an afternoon or a day away from your partner is completely normal, Leeth says, as well as going on trips with friends.
Being okay with time apart can also be a sign of trust in your partner. In a healthy relationship, “the other person isn’t at home wondering ‘did he/she really go out for coffee?’,” Leeth says.
9. You have physical intimacy
“Touch, sex, and physical intimacy are critical for a healthy relationship,” Saltz says, as it can make you feel close to your partner and bring pleasure to the relationship.
But there’s no strict rule about how often couples should do things like snuggle or have sex. “The importance of physical intimacy will vary from person to person, and will change over the course of a relationship,” Leeth says.
The important thing is that both partners feel that their needs for physical intimacy are being met, Jensen says.
10. You’re both committed
For a relationship to flourish, it’s important that both you and your partner want to stay together long-term. This may be because commitment can bring a feeling of safety and being appreciated by your partner.
A 2020 review of 43 different studies found that the number one most important factor in relationship satisfaction is feeling that your partner is committed to the relationship.
There are many possible signs that your relationship is healthy — resolving conflicts, taking time apart, and communicating clearly are all important factors.
But “while there may be some key ingredients for a healthy relationship, there is no cookie-cutter mold,” Leeth says, adding that a relationship may be healthy as long as both you and your partner are happy and your needs are being met.