By: Logan Cohen, Professional Therapist & Founder of New Leaf Counseling Group - Diverse Counselor & Therapist Team - Charlotte, NC
Every Person, Relationship, and System of Relationships, no matter how AMAZING and fulfilling, tends to have a bit of room for improvement. A healthy relationship can be a great place to grow.
Whether clients are seeking help with a small handful of concerns or a wide array of life stressors, I frequently get to observe clients discover that all too often there are only one or two fundamental themes or issues creating ALL of the heartache and stress in the client’s day-today lives.
These few "blind spots" stand to REALLY wreak some havoc on would be healthy relationships if they are allowed to go unchecked!
Since we tend to be such creatures of habit, it is possible for us to also be proactive in order to make sure that we embody certain characteristics/traits so that these issues cannot impact our lives and/or relationships so globally.
Given these findings over the years, I decided it was time to write an article about these phenomena, so here you have it…The 7 Signs of a Healthy Relationship (to Self & Others).
7 Signs of a Healthy Relationship
#1 Sign of a Healthy Relationship - Open Conflict
The ability to deal with conflict openly and directly is perhaps the most important facet of a healthy relationship to Self and Others.
We MUST feel free to express discontent openly with ourselves and other people because if this is not occurring, we block the growth of not only ourselves, but also our Loved Ones. How would you know this is happening in your own life? Well…it looks like us and our relationships being totally STUCK!
It is very common in my practice that I will be working with a high-power executive who appears to “have it all together” on the outside, however internally is overwhelmed by Anxiety, Depression, or some other type of Emotional Pain.
Inevitably at some point in The Work, we stumble upon a significant insight for the client about one or more aspects of their life/character and upon further exploration, discover that these pathological aspects of their life are globally present throughout virtually all others aspects of their life; from romance, to business, to Family, and even peer relationships.
When this has occurred, it is subjectively experienced as quite the sticky situation and unless the client is willing to push past this inflection point and if not, then they are oftentimes unable to grow to their fullest potential.
The only way we can be dig deep enough to be real with ourselves and loved ones, and position ourselves for the fullest growth potential is by being open to engaging in enough open/direct conflict with Self/Others to realize that change might be more satisfying and may even be necessary for long-term sustainability, even if it requires overcoming some acute barriers.
7 Signs of a Healthy Relationship
#2 Sign of a Healthy Relationship - Adequate Boundaries
Notice the word choice of “adequate” here in terms of the Boundaries. The boundaries don’t have to be perfect, but they have to be good enough to serve the purpose of providing enough clarity to define each part of the Self/Relationship System in terms of their multiple roles and established rules of engagement.
This is true for our “Parts” internally, insofar as how we balance the demands of Work/Family/Life to make sure there is enough room for what we have decided to prioritize in our own Lives. This is also true for Relationships, Families, and even Businesses.
What is the role of each entity in the transactions? What should you expect in trade of your time and/or resources with your Relationships, Marriage, Family, or Business?
If there are not clear rules of engagement or if the Members of a Relational Group cannot be expect to be treated fairly, then the relationship to Self and/or Others cannot be sustainable.
An example of this on a personal level would be somebody who knows physical fitness is an important part of their lives, however at the same time fails to prioritize their physical fitness when life presents other competing demands.
Maybe they have always been very physically engaged in their environment or perhaps they just discovered this in high school sports, but once they launch from their homes as an adolescent and become an adult, it is common for young professionals to “forget” some of this self-knowledge as they try their hand at climbing the corporate ladder.
If this individual does not have a very clear process to manage competing wants/needs with the rest of their Lives, they are prone to de-prioritizing their physical fitness once professional demands increase, then their level of physical fitness will fall until this person realizes that their process of life prioritization is no longer sustainable.
This might occur after they get out of shape, their partner comments about their appearance, or maybe even goes so long that their Doctor asks them about their weight and suggests medication for blood pressure/sugar.