Before we move on, let me get this off my chest. Unlike some common beliefs, pushed heavily by social media, you and I do not need an audience to find success. We find success by who we are and what we do, not because of others opinions of us. Thus it’s not our relationships that makes us complete, it’s who we are unto ourselves. This means the first step to establish a healthy relationship is to accept ourselves first.
So, with that said…
What is a healthy relationship?
Is a healthy relationship dependent on the situation? For example, are the rules different for a husband/wife, parent/child, boss/employee, or teacher/student?
The answer to this is obvious. What makes one relationship healthy for a parent and child is different between a teacher and student. For example some married couples need more verbal expressions, while some may be more action oriented. In a smaller class room, student teacher relationships would be more personalized and interactive than say a large auditorium based class.
However, for this article, let’s look at the similarities that make all relationships healthy. To do this, we must define the idea.
My definition would include these ideas:
- Relationships that give positive benefits by meeting the mutual needs of all parties included.
- Relationships that include the idea of commonality expressing itself through shared interests with each side having a role to play.
- Relationships that have projected growth that forsakes the status quo in honor of helping one another through good times or bad.
- Relationships that allow for a better way of life greater than each person on their own.
- Relationships where both sides are taken seriously and not taken for granted.
Here are a few research articles, magazine quotes and university studies:
- Healthy Versus Unhealthy Relationship from the University of Washington – A healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but you want to prevent prolonged mental stress on either member of the relationship.
- Healthy Relationships from loveisrespect.org – Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect.
- Healthy Relationships from UC Texas – While the early months of a relationship can feel effortless and exciting, successful long-term relationships involve ongoing effort and compromise by both partners. Building healthy patterns early in your relationship can establish a solid foundation for the long run.
- Rohn: 8 Traits for healthy Relationships from Success Magazine –Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.
We the people…
It’s possible to live by ourselves, and not depend on anyone else. Although this is not ideal, and in my opinion quite lonely and boring. We do have the ability to live on our own, but sometimes a healthy relationship can be found in the idea of symbiosis.
For example, let’s look at the idea behind the symbiosis that makes up the lowly little Lichen as defined by the USDA Forest Service. “Have you ever seen lichen and knew that it was a lichen… They seem as though they are from another planet! Lichens are bizarre organisms and no two are alike. Lichens are a complex life form that is a symbiotic partnership of two separate organisms, a fungus and an alga. The dominant partner is the fungus, which gives the lichen the majority of its characteristics, from its thallus shape to its fruiting bodies. The alga can be either a green alga or a blue-green alga… Many will have both types.”
You see, even though they are two complete life forms, they can form together to become more than they are separately.
This is also like the idea of a Symbiotic Relationship: A symbiotic relationship occurs when two organisms, individuals or groups of people work together by helping one another with the intent of getting help in return. In a symbiotic relationship, the two people or groups of people live together to provide the greatest benefits to one another.
Now obviously a symbiotic relationship can become detrimental if it begins to devalue or replace other important relationships in our life. However, it does offer a good idea about what a healthy relationship can become – with others and not apart from them. (i.e. like joining a cult and cutting off all other relationships).
Healthy Relationships, The What and Why
With everything said and done, here is my final conclusion:
What is a healthy relationship: People meeting together to experience life by seriously acknowledging one another’s opinion, doing things together in mutual respect and growing deeper in knowledge of one another over an extended period.
Why have a healthy relationship: Life is too short to waste our time with people who selfishly pursue their own goals, overlook other’s needs and then complain and criticize us for being who we are.
We are not really an island unto ourselves. Everyone is part of various groups of people who spend time together. However, at some point, we all need to evaluate our relationships from time to time. We must define what a healthy relationship really is for ourselves. No one can do it for us, but hopefully the information above has given you a few ideas and suggestions to help you along the way.
Stay tuned for part 3, How to have a healthy relationship.