Health. We all think about it, especially as we age. We visit the doctor, we eat right (at least sometimes), we Google our symptoms and then fret when the Internet inevitably tells us we’re dying. We want health so we survive on this planet for as long as possible.
We think about health, but only as it relates to our bodies. Sometimes we forget to think about health in terms of romantic relationships.
Just as physical health prolongs life, the health of a relationship also extends a union. To put it simply, a relationship that is unhealthy won’t last, or, at least, it shouldn’t. Instead, it’ll shrivel up and limp away, two dissolving into one.
But what is a healthy relationship, exactly? How do we know if our relationship is well enough to survive the long haul or so sick that it’s time to consider putting it out to pasture? How do you know if you’re with the wrong guy or with someone who’s your future’s cornerstone?
There’s no medical test to rely on, no temperature that gages whether a relationship is hot or has cooled down to hypothermic levels. Luckily, these eight signs are all that you need to determine the health of your relationship:
1. Your boyfriend believes in you, and you believe in him.
He talks to that part of you that you forget when you doubt yourself. He reminds you who you are. He has a clear vision of your potential and nurtures it into existence. You don’t talk about him behind his back. You don’t complain to your girlfriends about him in a way that you wouldn’t say to his face. You don’t post his shortcomings on social media. You believe he is a whole and complete person who solves his own problems and stands on his own two feet, even if you aren’t there to support him.
2. You trust him.
You trust him to stay true to his word. You’re not constantly anticipating him falling through on his promises. You don’t anticipate or compensate with different actions for his lack of perceived responsibility. And if he does break a promise, you don’t hold it over his head (and he’s not doing that to you). You’re not hacking into his social media accounts or checking his text messages.
3. You accept his past and he accepts yours.
Regardless of who he was, how many women he’s been with, his upbringing, you don’t hold his past against him. You naturally allow him to reinvent himself and grow with you. You promise to never think you know him, and instead swear to approach each day with curiosity of who he’s becoming. Your relationship is the total package (forgiveness and letting go of the past are NOT sold separately).
4. You’re grateful for the good things you have with him.
You appreciate the little things he does for you. You’re not hoping things will get better. You’re not waiting for the new job, for the salary bump, for the move to the different city, or for the next trip to improve things. You’re grateful for what you have right now with your partner. You’re happy in the moment and not playing the dangerous game of “if only” (“If only he starts making more money,” or “if only he didn’t work so much.”) You’re not rushing things either. You’re focused on the journey, not the destination. Marriage, a baby, an anniversary—you’re content with them happening naturally.
5. There’s open and clear communication between the two of you.
There aren’t any ‘off-limit’ topics that force either of you into passive aggressive behavior and irrational blow ups. You’re straight with one another. You wear your heart on your sleeve and so does he. You don’t struggle for power or control in the relationship; it’s not a union composed of games. In fact, you relinquish power because you know that gets in the way of love. You know there will be hard times—you’re not expecting a relationship merely made up of sessions singing “Kumbaya,” but you’re comfortably communicating with each other in a way that doesn’t cause the other person to feel attacked, criticized or blamed.
6. Your sex life continues to get deeper and richer.
Even when it plateaus at times, the act of coming together brings more life, intimacy and closeness into your partnership. Your sex life is a priority, with each of you continuing to nurture one another’s physical needs in the hopes of increasing the depth and richness of your relationship.
7. You deeply respect him and he deeply respects you.
You honor each other’s boundaries and encourage each other to pursue passions and dreams. If you love dancing, he encourages you to do it. If you love traveling and he doesn’t, he encourages you to do it with friends. You don’t expect him to fulfill all of your emotional needs, which is why you have relationships with PEOPLE (friends, family, etc.) and not just one PERSON. You meet some of your emotional needs through others and he isn’t threatened by this. He’s the most important person in your life, but not the only important person. He never makes you feel invalidated, foolish or needy.
8. Your core values match up to his.
You don’t feel like you’re constantly trying to change him or compromising yourself to stay with him. You don’t view him as a fixer upper or a starter boyfriend. Instead, he is who and what you want and your core values jive. Your answers coincide on important questions. (Do you want children? Do you value travel? Do you have a thirst for new experiences? Do you agree on financial matters? Are the things that make you happy similar? Do you want to live in the same area?)
The health of your relationship is vital to its existence, but there’s no test you can take to determine its wellness. Only you and your partner know if your relationship has the life expectancy of a fruit fly or a tortoise. Only you hold the answer to the question: Is this a healthy relationship? Still, the eight signs written above can help you determine whether your love will last forever or merely linger for a few months that feel like forever.