Many people want healthy relationships in their lives, but defining a healthy relationship is tricky. Romantic partnerships and friendships can be stimulating and exciting, yet ultimately have negative consequences. Fortunately, experts have found several characteristics that are symptomatic of either healthy or unhealthy relationships. These can help people gain a better understanding of the relationships in their lives.
Healthy relationships are vital to a long and healthy life. A 2009 "New York Times" articles states that people with close friends suffer from fewer colds than people without genuine friendships. They may also live longer lives. In a 10-year study in Australia, researchers discovered that elderly people with a greater number of friends increased their chances of survival by 22 percent, compared with people with a limited number friends, according to the article.
Mutual respect and honesty define a healthy relationship. According to the health professionals with the Go Ask Alice column at Columbia University, people in healthy relationships are comfortable with each other, trust each other, support each other and communicate honestly with each other. The federal Women's Health website states that people in healthy relationships love who they are as individuals and take care of themselves. They also make healthy choices as a team and are capable of resolving conflicts well, according to the Columbia University health professionals.
Meanwhile, unhealthy relationships suffer when friends or partners fail to make time for one another and criticize each other. Relationships in which one person is afraid of the other or one person tries to control the other are unhealthy, according to Columbia University health professionals. Violence and possessiveness--such as discouraging a partner from spending time with other friends--are bad signs, the Women's Health website notes.
Romantic partnerships are difficult to navigate, especially since the rush of infatuation can mask signs of an unhealthy relationship. In addition to the more noticeable violence and jealousy, subtle words and acts also reveal unhealthy partnerships. For instance, the TeensHealth website mentions pushing a partner to stop pursuing an activity that the partner enjoys in its list of unhealthy relationship warning signs.
A healthy romantic partnership relies on mutual support. Partners should be open with each other about their sexual pasts and not pressure each other, according to Columbia University health professionals.
According to the federal Administration for Children and Families, being in a healthy marriage versus an unhealthy marriage has several benefits. Men in healthy marriages live longer than men in unhealthy marriages, and both men and women are less likely to attempt suicide. Both enjoy greater physical health, emotional health, and financial success.
- "New York Times": What Are Friends For? A Longer Life
- Columbia University-Go Ask Alice: Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships
- Women's Health: Healthy Relationships vs. Unhealthy Relationships
- Teens Health: Am I in a Healthy Relationship?
- Administration for Children and Families: Benefits of Healthy Marriages