Relationships -- What Do They Look Like?
15 Traits of a Healthy Relationship
© Nancy Wesson, Ph.D.
Understanding Emotional Intimacy
Partners can manage conflict and differences
without despair or threats.
Both partners protect and nourish the relationship
and make it a priority (not addicted to work for example).
Both partners know how to be responsible for
own needs and also for the care of the relationship.
Both partners feel "special" to
the other. Arguments or fights do not lead to abuse or threatened
Both partners can communicate wants, needs,
feelings, and emotional issues with little or no shame.
There is unconditional love if not unconditional
The relationship feels and is nuturing, comfortable,
Both partners attend to the needs of each
other willingly and lovingly.
The sexual relationship works well and is
Both partners can and do keep agreements (maturity).
Both partners are honest.
There is no abuse: physical, verbal, emotional
Both partners have boundaries:
- Each person can say "no" to
requests from partner when necessary without feeling
guilty and tell their partner when something feels
not right or hurts them.
- People pleasing is kept to a minimum
and neither one feels they are making a "great
sacrifice" to stay in the relationship. Each person
is able to do their work, attend to their children,
care for other aspects of their life without threatening
Partners can hear feedback from each other
that they may be projecting old relationship fears or issues
onto the current relationship.
There is commitment: exits are blocked in
© Nancy Wesson, Ph.D.
Sharing thoughts, feelings and needs is the best way to
become emotionally close to someone.
Asking questions casually while you spend time together
is the best way to get to know someone but do not disclose
a lot at a time especially in the beginning.
Here are some helpful ideas:
- Use "I" statements: I feel sad that I
won't be seeing you until next month instead of.. It's hard
for one to wait a month to see someone they are interested
in... . I am happy that you came... vs. You know it's nice
when others show up when they are expected... .
- Do not evade questions about yourself or joke about
it or change the subject to something less personal.
- What are you doing...writing my biography?
- Is this psychotherapy 101?
Being friends first is more than a cliche -- enjoying someone's
company and becoming relaxed around someone are very important
aspects of intimacy.
- Don't disclose prematurely -- sometimes women do this.
Don't make "confessions" about your job, your
ex-wife, your kids etc.
- "First strive to understand, then to be understood" -
- Avoid criticism whenever possible/offer support first and
suggestions later if requested: avoid advice unless it is
- Support: That must be awfully hard to do...
- Advice: Have you ever thought of redoing the
plumbing in your house. I know someone who does
that type of work.