In the digital age of online dating, it’s become easier for people to portray themselves as a person who has the “full package”. Sitting behind a screen to swipe left or right, has brought a convenience and ease to weeding out a potential partner, but when we come face to face with people, how do we know which behaviours to run away from, and the ones to embrace? In my previous article on love bombing [insert link] we identified some unhealthy relationship traits and placed a spotlight on some major red flags. With cuffing season approaching for the single people (and Valentine’s Day not far behind), now is a better time than ever to identify the green flags in relationships.
So much of what we learn about platonic and romantic love comes from our upbringing – through our family dynamic, friendship groups and even what we consume in the media. Our ideas about what is deemed ‘healthy’ are a direct result of what we’ve been surrounded with, so we either emulate what we know to be healthy or try to form our own ideas. However, from an objective point of view there are some essential healthy traits that can be initiated into all romantic relationships.
Supportive – a person that supports you in your family life, career, hobbies, and life goals, is someone that you will enjoy being around. Someone that is genuinely supportive will not be jealous of their partner, or unnecessarily critical or judgmental, they will celebrate the achievements of their partner as if it’s their own. Similarly, a supportive person will show up emotionally and physically when their partner is going through difficulties. They will do everything they can to help alleviate stress, as opposed to adding to it.
Respectful – an essential trait in any relationship is respect; this can encompass one another’s beliefs; traditions and cultural practices; their attitude towards your family and friends, and how they treat you as a person. You can measure the respect that a person has towards you by how they speak about you and act towards you, both in your presence and absence.
Conflict resolution – have you ever been in the middle of a heated conversation and found yourself physically walking away to cool down, while the other person wants to resolve the issue there and then? We often don’t realise our partner’s conflict resolution styles until we’re in the eye of the storm. Healthy relationships need verbal communication; a middle ground to resolve disagreements and the emotional intelligence to know when to step back and apologise. The book, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High is a great self-help book for anyone that wants to be more emotionally healthy and improve their communication skills, especially during conflict.
Attentive – the key to avoiding a neglectful relationship is to keep learning about one another. Be present in the relationship by listening when your partner speaks and taking note of one another’s interests. The Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman is a good foundation for learning how to show up for your significant other and keep the relationship alive.
Romance – if romance is not high on your list of healthy relationship traits, then you may want to begin considering it. While romantic gestures may not come naturally to everyone, it certainly contributes towards maintaining a healthy relationship and can prevent the relationship from growing stale. Romantic gestures don’t need to be grand, but they should always be thoughtful. Think about the love language that your partner likes to receive and find different ways to appease it, not just for the special occasions but in daily life too.
Generosity – if you’ve ever experienced a relationship with someone who is tight-fisted with their generosity, then you’ll agree that relationships are so much more enjoyable with people who are generous with their time and resources. Unlike the ‘communal love bomber’ who only helps others for public approval and recognition, a person who is authentic in their generosity will do it out of their love for others and their kind-hearted nature.
How many of these healthy relationship traits do you have, and what other green flags do you prioritise in your relationship?