What is a healthy relationship?
Various components constitute a healthy relationship, including self-respect, making and keeping clear agreements, communicating, honesty and being able to forgive. In a healthy relationship, both individuals respect each other and are able to communicate freely and openly.
You cannot enter a healthy relationship unless you respect yourself first. A lack of self-respect opens the door for either co-dependency issues or the potential of being controlled. Everyone should feel that she has value and is worth loving. Without respect, both for self and for others, the door is opened for a verbally abusive relationship to form. Verbal abuse causes pain and trauma, neither of which a respectful individual would want to inflict upon her significant other.
Communication is the main way to see if a relationship is healthy or verbally abusive. In a healthy relationship, the two individuals will be able to talk to each other with mutual respect. When disagreements arise, as they do in any relationship, a couple with a healthy relationship will be able to talk it over and perhaps even raise their voices. But it's only in a verbally abusive relationship that hurtful personal attacks occur. In a verbally abusive relationship, disagreements turn into fights in which the aggressor may resort to criticizing or putting down the other person. The abuser may feel a sense of superiority to his partner and a sense of entitlement that will close the road to the kind of two-way communication that is vital for a relationship to flourish.
Honesty and openness are key components in any relationship. They help build trust, the solid ground on which a relationship between two people can be built. When a relationship is healthy, each partner will be truthful without being disrespectful. When verbal abuse enters the equation, though, the heightened sense of superiority in the aggressor can lead to dishonesty. He may consider his partner to be below him and unworthy of the truth. On the other side, the abused victim might lie to prevent the wrath of her verbal assaulter.
Apologies and forgiveness
Forgiveness can happen in both healthy and abusive relationships. There is a difference, however, depending on whether mutual respect is present or not. In a healthy relationship, both parties are capable of forgiving each other, at least to a certain extent, and to put the past behind them and focus on the present.
In a verbally abusive relationship, the abuser is often unaware of her actions. It doesn’t occur to her that what she says is extremely hurtful and detrimental to the emotional health of her partner, and so she will often not feel the need to apologize. The victim may forgive the abuser in his own mind, or to others, but forgiveness does not extend the other way. Having an often heightened sense of superiority, the abuser does not feel the need to apologize for anything, or to work on changing her behavior.