Is it Time to Break Up? The Healthy Relationship Checklist
Every relationship is different — and comes with its own unique set of quirks and challenges. While the recipe for a successful relationship is definitely not one-size-fits-all, there are common factors that expert Alyson Jones says should be present in any healthy partnership. So get ready to keep score (and tally your results at the end) as we take you through 20 key elements of the healthy relationship checklist.
You trust each otherSure, this one seems obvious, but it may surprise you to discover that trusting and being trustedcan be challenging for some. Trust issues find themselves lurking at the core of many (unhealthy) relationships.
“A healthy relationship cannot be built on lies and deceit,” says therapist Alyson Jones. “You cannot relax in a relationship if you are worrying about secrets and betrayal. When you don’t trust someone, you find yourself doubting your own perceptions — conversely, when you do trust someone, you can relax and better trust yourself.”
There is balance in the relationshipEvery solid partnership operates with a fair and balanced give-and-take. When the scales don’t measure up, your relationship may begin to feel a little one-sided, causing resentment and unrest on the part of the person who isn’t feeling a fair return on their investment.
In a balanced relationship, “There is mutuality in your feelings for each other,” says Alyson Jones. “You trust the relationship is moving along as it should, and there is a natural flow in your feelings for each other.”
There is vulnerability in the relationshipAre you able to let your guard down?
“You cannot have a meaningful relationship without vulnerability,” says Alyson Jones. “To experience love, we must first let the defenses down. Part of love is vulnerability, and without the risks (of being vulnerable) there will be no rewards.”
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You are curious about the other personCuriousity equals interest. The day you stop feeling enthusiasm and some level of curiosity about your person, you may want to evaluate the state of your relationship.
“You should be curious about the other person — finding them interesting and wanting to continue to learn about them,” says Alyson Jones. “You want to know about their experiences, thoughts and feelings.”
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You love the person they are right now — not who you think they can beIf your acceptance of your partner is based solely on what you perceive as their “future potential” or ideals set far from the present, than you may want to examine why you aren’t satisfied with the current realities of your relationship.
“When you have an agenda to change a person, you have not accepted them,” says Alyson Jones. “A relationship can inspire us to be our best and do our best — but nobody wants to be someone else’s improvement project.”
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You can communicate effectively with each otherEffective communication is the keystone to a healthy union, and one of the most important ways in which any couple can hope to successfully navigate through the ups and downs of their relationships.
“You need to be able to talk about things and work through things together,” says Alyson Jones. “You can discuss difficult topics and do not hold onto resentments. If you do not feel heard of understood in a relationship it will turn the relationship sour.”
You treat each other with respectWhile it may seem like common sense, a lack of respect is a recurring theme amongst many struggling couples. Some relationships struggle to find this mutual sense of respect, and the ability to exercise it — these couples cannot hope to repair a fractured relationship for the long-term.
“You must value each other and recognize the other person as a unique individual who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity.” Says Alyson Jones.
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There is room for differences in the relationshipUltimately, no two people — no matter how much they may have in common — are exactly the same in all ways. A little variety between partners will keep things interesting, and allow you the space to grow and learn from those differences.
“Everyone has a right to their own opinions and thoughts,” says Alyson Jones. “When you have disagreements, you do not name call or put each other down. You speak highly of your partner to others, and you respect their opinions… even when they are different to your own.”
You argue – and work through itAny healthy relationship will face its share of bumps in the road – this is an inevitability – but it’s how you and your partner face these turbulent times that makes the difference.
“Disagreements are not the problem – they are to be expected in any relationship of significance,” says Alyson Jones. “The problem is when we cannot resolve the differences – or agree to disagree. Emotions can run high when you are arguing with someone you care for – but we need to fight fairly and make room for differences.”
You each put effort into the relationshipEvery relationship needs to be 50/50 when it comes to effort — ultimately, you will only get out of it what you put in.
“If one person is doing all the work this will lead to resentment and disengagement from both partners,” says Alyson Jones. “We all need to feel we are contributing to the relationship and that our contributions are valued by our partners.”
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You each have the ability to compromiseWithout a little flexibility in your resolve, you cannot expect to find common ground with your partner.
“A relationship will not last if you are not willing to compromise,” says Alyson Jones. “It cannot be all about you, and likewise, your partner should not be able to get their own way all of the time, either. Life is made up on compromised — but that being said, one thing you should never compromise on is your self-value.”
The relationship has healthy boundariesListen up: before you were ever a two-some, you were just your own, beautifully unique person. Never lose sight of that in a bid to fit into another person’s world.
“You are two different people so there needs to be respect of each partner as an individual,” says Alyson Jones. “Each partner should have their own interests, autonomy and independence. You need to be able to spend time apart and experience your life as an individual. You also need to be able to have boundaries in your intimate relationship, and nobody should be pushed into or coerced into something that is past their limits.”
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You have intimacy in your relationshipYou shouldn’t have to work that hard to feel desired by your significant other — and vice versa.
“It is great to feel sexy with your partner and enjoy the physical aspects of your relationship,” says Alyson Jones. “There are many ways to feel intimate and connected and a healthy relationship will have you exploring intimacy through physical, emotional and intellectual avenues.”
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You can talk to each other without fear of judgmentYour relationship should be a safe space in your world. This should be the last place where you fear judgment for being open and honest.
“If you feel judged by your partner, you will shut down and disconnect from them,” says Alyson Jones. “It is important that you feel you can be imperfect and can be in a space with someone who can accept you without harsh judgments and criticisms.”
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You are loyal to each otherLoyalty is key in any healthy relationship.
“We need to feel that our partner has our back and we can depend on them to back us up if needed,” says Alyson Jones. “We all need to feel we have our “people” in this world — and the one we can truly depend on above all others is our chosen partner.”
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Your relationship is a safe place in the worldIt’s rough out there, and sometimes it can feel as though the walls are caving in. When life throws you curveballs, and it feels as though you’re spiraling out, your relationship should feel like a place where you can safely turn to in order to reset and recharge.
“Our relationship can provide a sanctuary when we need it — and it can help us refuel and replenish before we go out and face the world again,” says Alyson Jones. “If you feel unsafe in your relationship this is an indicator that you need some help. Reach out to others if you feel your relationship is toxic — your personal safety must be a priority and should not be compromised.”
Both partners can say, “I’m sorry”The ability to admit our wrongs and hold ourselves accountable — even at the risk of bruising our egos — is paramount to maintaining a healthy relationship. An inability to apologize is a sign your partner is a narcissist.
“We need personal responsibility and accountability in a relationship,” says Alyson Jones. “We will hurt and disappoint each other — this is inevitable. What makes a relationship secure and strong is the ability to own up if we have made a mistake, and to do our best to have empathy for our partner and what they may be experiencing.”
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There is a sense of equality in the relationshipNo one person in a relationship should have the final say on every matter.
“There may be some things we do better than our partner — and vice versa — but no one should feel they are better or superior to their partner,” says Alyson Jones. “If you feel controlled in a relationship, there may be a power imbalance at play that is not healthy.”
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The relationship is fun!At the end of the day, all of this effort and energy should feel like a fair trade when you consider just how much pure joy your partner brings into your life.
“Although there is work in a relationship, this needs to be balanced with having a good time together,” says Alyson Jones. “You do not have to have all the same interests, but it is important to be able to be playful together and bring a sense of humor into your time together. Laughter and joy are good for us – and our relationships.”
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The final tallyIf you checked off all 20: Fabulous — a perfect score — and a super-healthy relationship!
If you checked off 15 or more: Fantastic – your relationship is obviously on the right track and thriving.
If you checked off 10 to 15: Great job, but if you’re on the lower end of this tally, you may want to examine some areas where your relationship could use improvement.
If you checked off less than 10: No judgment here, but it sounds like your partnership could use a little reflection and revamping to get it back on track.
Deal breakers:Regardless of your score, if for any reason you do not feel safe, respected, free to explore your autonomy or valued in your relationship, it is vital that you remove yourself from the relationship and strategize the best steps for yourself going forward — even if that means going forward without your partner (#SelfLove).