All romantic relationships go through ups and downs, and they all take commitment, work, and a willingness to adapt and change with your partner. Whether your relationship is just starting or you’ve been together for years, there are steps you can take to build a healthy relationship. Even if you’ve experienced a few failed relationships or struggled to rekindle the romance in your current relationship, you can find ways to stay connected, find fulfillment, and enjoy lasting happiness.

What Makes a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship is unique, and people come together for many different reasons. Part of what defines a healthy relationship is sharing a common goal for what you want the relationship to be and where you want it to go. That’s something that you’ll know by talking intensely and honestly with your partner. However, there are also some characteristics that most healthy relationships have in common. Understanding these basic principles can help make your relationship meaningful, fulfilling, and exciting. Whatever goals you’re working towards or challenges you’re facing, you can meet them head-on with your partner.

You Maintain an Emotional Connection

You make each other feel loved and emotionally fulfilled. There’s a difference between being loved and feeling loved. Feeling loved by your partner makes you feel accepted and valued. Some relationships get stuck in peaceful coexistence without the partners genuinely relating to each other emotionally. While the union may seem stable on the surface, a lack of ongoing involvement and emotional connection only adds distance between two people.

You’re Not Scared of Respectful Disagreement

Some couples talk things out quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree. The key to a strong relationship is not to be fearful of conflict. It would be best if you felt safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation and be able to resolve disputes without humiliation, degradation, or insisting on being right.

You Keep Outside Relationships Alive

Despite the claims of romantic fiction or movies, no one person can meet all of your needs. Expecting too much from your partner can put unhealthy pressure on a relationship. To stimulate and enrich your romantic relationship, you and your partner must sustain your own identity outside of the relationship and preserve connections with family and friends. It would also be best to maintain your hobbies and interests.

Ways to Build a Healthy Relationship

Most couples focus on their relationship only when there are specific, unavoidable problems to overcome. Once the issues are resolved, they switch their attention to their careers or other interests. However, romantic relationships require ongoing attention and commitment for love to flourish. As long as the health of a romantic relationship remains important to you, it’s going to need your attention and effort. Identifying and fixing a minor problem in your relationship can help prevent it from growing into a much larger one down the road. The following tips can help you preserve that falling in love experience and keep your romantic relationships healthy.

Spend Quality Time Face to Face

You fall in love looking at and listening to each other. If you continue to look and hear in the same attentive ways, you can sustain the falling-in-love experience over the long term. You have fond memories of when you were first dating your loved one. Everything seemed new and exciting, and you likely spent hours just chatting together or coming up with new, exciting things to try. However, as time goes by, the demands of work, family, other obligations, and the need we all have for time to ourselves can make it harder to find time together. Many couples find that the face-to-face contact of their early dating days is gradually replaced by hurried texts, emails, or instant messages. Sending a text to your partner saying I love you is great, but if you rarely look at them or have the time to sit down together, they’ll still feel you don’t understand or appreciate them, and you’ll become more distanced or disconnected as a couple. Your partner can only convey the emotional cues you both need to feel loved in person, so it’s essential to carve out time to spend together no matter how busy life gets.

Stay Connected Through Communication

Good communication is a fundamental part of a healthy relationship. When you experience a positive emotional connection with your partner, you feel safe and happy. When people stop communicating well, they stop relating well, and change or stress can bring out the disconnect. It may be simplistic, but you can usually work through whatever problems you’re facing as long as you communicate. It’s not always easy to talk about what you need. For one, many of us don’t spend enough time thinking about what’s important to us in a relationship. Even if you know what you need, talking about it can make you feel vulnerable, embarrassed, or ashamed. Still, look at it from your partner’s point of view. Providing comfort and understanding to someone you love is a pleasure, not a burden. If you’ve known each other for a while, you may assume that your partner has a good idea of what you’re thinking and what you need. However, your partner isn’t a mind reader. While they may have some thoughts, it’s much healthier to express your needs directly to avoid confusion. Your partner may sense something, but it might not be what you need. Also, people change, and what you needed or wanted five years ago may be different now. So instead of letting resentment or anger grow when your partner gets it wrong, it would be best if you get in the habit of telling them what you need.

Keep Physical Intimacy Alive

Touch is a fundamental part of human existence. Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, affectionate contact for brain development. Still, the benefits don’t end in childhood. Loving touch boosts the body’s level of oxytocin, a hormone that influences bonding and attachment. While sex is often a cornerstone of a committed relationship, it shouldn’t be the only method of physical intimacy. Frequent affectionate touch is equally important, like holding hands, hugging, and kissing. Of course, it’s essential to be sensitive to what your partner likes. Unwanted touching or inappropriate overtures can make the other person tense up and retreat. As with many aspects of a healthy relationship, this can come down to how well you communicate your needs and intentions with your partner. You can help keep physical intimacy alive by carving out sometime as a couple where you can sit and talk or hold hands.

Learn Give and Take in Your Relationship

If you expect to get what you want 100 percent of the time in a relationship, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Healthy relationships are built on compromise. However, it takes work on each person’s part to ensure a reasonable exchange. Knowing what is vital to your partner can go a long way towards building goodwill and an atmosphere of compromise. On the other hand, it’s also essential for your partner to recognize your wants and for you to state them clearly. Constantly giving to others at the expense of your own needs will only build resentment and anger. It’s alright to have strong convictions about something, but your partner deserves to be heard as well. Be respectful of the other person and their viewpoint.

Be Ready For Ups and Downs

It’s essential to recognize there will be ups and downs in every relationship. You won’t always be on the same page. Sometimes one partner may be struggling with an issue that stresses them, like the death of a close family member. Other events, like job loss or severe health issues, can affect both partners and make it hard to relate to each other. You might have different ideas on managing finances or raising children. Different people cope with stress differently, and misunderstandings can rapidly turn to frustration and annoyance.

Building healthy relationships can be hard work. However, if both partners commit to working together, their relationship can grow and flourish.

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