Characteristics of Healthy Relationships


Iowa Coalition Against Violence

Sidebar: Reader Response- JoannaK





For those who are starting to venture out, here are some guidelines; they may save you some pain. The fact is that there are probably couples who have violated many of these 13 rules and they've moved forward happily. But for every one of these difficult situations that worked out, there are many that didn't. And many of us here have a bad track record. We must be much more cautious with a bad track record.

1. No matter how much you like someone, don't move in until a good year is up.

2. Avoid long distance relationships, no matter how many people you know who have had successful long distance relationships. You don't get the see the person on a day-to-day basis. And day-to-day is different than the excitement of anticipated meetings, and stolen weekends.

3. Don't consider your relationship a "real" relationship until you meet in real life. Try to meet in "real" life within a few weeks of the first connection. Don't mistake "love" over the Internet with the real thing. There's something about the Internet that fosters immediate intimacy, but it's not real.

4. Support yourself. Don't think about moving in with someone for financial purposes. Moving from one man (or woman) to another in terms of living arrangements is a recipe for disaster.

5. Don't get involved with someone if they can't support themselves. Be careful not to become a "hero" and support this person. The joys of rescueing are generally short-lived because of the reality of constant financial chaos.

6. Watch out for [emotionally] needy people. If neediness makes someone more appealing to you, you have issues to address before getting involved again. If you think that "boring" is a synonym for "stable" and "mental illnes" is a synonym for "passionate, attractive, charming, and exciting", you have issues.

7. If someone starts telling you that you need to prove your love by living with her/him, buying a house with/for her/him, marrying her/him, be very cautious. You shouldn't have to "prove" your love. Your love should be evident over time by consistent loving actions.

8. Make sure you are on the same track as the other person. If you want a relationship which includes commitment or exclusivity, make sure the other person wants the same thing before you spend a lot of time with him/her and become very emotionally invested in him/her.

9. If you start to feel the abuse, if you start to feel that the woman is a difficult, consider moving on. Do not try to be "better" because someone tells you you should be better. Likewise with men: Good men are not irresponsible, unfaithful, alcoholics who cheat, abuse, or don't hold jobs. If you start to believe you are with one like this, move on. There is never any reason to tolerate abusive. The more demanding someone is, or the more attractive someone is, is not an indication of that person's worth as a human being or as a partner.

10. Know what you want in a long term partnership. List some of the characteristics of such an "ideal" person., Look at your list. If you've weighted superficials like appearance, sexual prowess, "charm", "charisma", cuteness above things like warmth, consideration, caring, etc. etc., you need to take a look at yourself to figure out what is going on. I'm not saying that the "superficials" shouldn't be on the list, but character should be more important.

11. Learn how to speak up for yourself and even get a bit angry if necessary. Don't walk on eggshells! Don't confuse eggshell walking with being tactful.

12. Talk yourself into the "three strikes" rule. Some behaviors are so awful they should only have one out, but three times is more than enough for just about anything. Repeatedly accepting abusive or bad behavior says much about you and them.

13. Remember that you can't teach an elephant to fly. It will just frustrate you and irritate the hell out of the elephant. Most unrecovered from BPD do not have the emotional capacity to be in a relationship. Yes, it's sad, but it's the truth. And, you can't give him/her those emotional capacities. Sometimes by staying with them, you are keeping them from developing the emotion
al capacities. You are enabling them to continue being emotionally ill

- JoannaK (Ghostwriter)
Healthy relationships are characterized by respect, sharing and trust. They are based on the belief that both partners are equal, that the power and control in the relationship are equally shared.

Some of the characteristics of a healthy relationship are:

Respect - listening to one another, valuing each other's opinions, and listening in a non-judgmental manner. Respect also involves attempting to understand and affirm the other's emotions.

Trust and support - supporting each other's goals in life, and respecting each other's right to his/her own feelings, opinions, friends, activities and interest. It is valuing one's partner as an individual.

Honesty and accountability - communicating openly and truthfully, admitting mistakes or being wrong, acknowledging past use of violence, and accepting responsibility for one's self.

Shared responsibility - making family/relationship decisions together, mutually agreeing on a distribution of work which is fair to both partners. If parents, the couple shares parental responsibilities and acts as positive, non-violent role models for the children.

Economic partnership - in marriage or cohabitation, making financial decisions together, and making sure both partners benefit from financial arrangements.

Negotiation and fairness - being willing to compromise, accepting change, and seeking mutually satisfying solutions to conflict.

Non-threatening behavior - talking and acting in a way that promotes both partners' feelings of safety in the relationship. Both should feel comfortable and safe in expressing him/herself and in engaging in activities.


So, Is Your Relationship Healthy?

A. Can you say what you like or admire about your partner?

B. Is your partner glad that you have other friends?

C. Is your partner happy about your accomplishments and ambitions?

D. Does your partner ask for and respect your opinions?

E. Does she/he really listen to you?

F. Can she/he talk about her/his feelings?

G. Does your partner have a good relationship with her/his family?

H. Does she/he have good friends?

I. Does she/he have interests besides you?

J. Does she/he take responsibility for her/his actions and not blame others for her/his failures?

K. Does your partner respect your right to make decisions that affect your own life?

L. Are you and your partner friends? Best friends?

If you answered most of these questions with a yes, you probably are not in a relationship that is likely to become abusive. If you answered no to some or most of these questions you may be in an abusive relationship, please continue with the next set of questions.


Is Your Partner Healthy?

a. When your partner gets angry does she/he break or throw things?

b. Does your partner lose her/his temper easily?

c. Is your partner jealous of your friends or family?

d. Does your partner expect to be told where you have been when you are not with her/him?

e. Does your partner think you are cheating on her/him if you talk or dance with someone else?

f. Does your partner drink or take drugs almost every day or go on binges?

g. Does she/he ridicule, make fun of, or put you down?

h. Does your partner think there are some situations in which it is okay for a man to hit a woman or a woman to hit a man?

i. Do you like yourself less than usual when you have been with your partner?

j. Do you ever find yourself afraid of your partner?

If you answered yes to questions in this group, please be careful and think about your safety.



Do You Have Healthy Boundaries?

Boundaries are important in determining the health of a relationship. Boundaries clarify where you stop and where I begin, which problems belong to you and which problems belong to me.


What are boundaries? "Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what is not. . . ." - Dr. Henry Cloud

Each of us has boundaries, some of which go unspoken, in many areas of our lives. We set boundaries in regard to physical proximity and touch, the words that are acceptable when we are spoken to, honesty, emotional intimacy (such as how much we self-disclose to others). When one or both people in a relationship have difficulty with boundaries, the relationship suffers.

The following characteristics indicate a problem in setting and enforcing boundaries.

~ Telling all.

~ Talking at an intimate level on the first meeting.

~ Falling in love with a new acquaintance.

~ Falling in love with anyone who reaches out.

~ Being overwhelmed by a person--preoccupied.

~ Acting on the first sexual impulse.

~ Being sexual for partner, not self.

~ Going against personal values or rights to please others.

~ Not noticing when someone invades your boundaries.

~ Not noticing when someone else displays
inappropriate boundaries.

~ Accepting food, gifts, touch, sex that you don't want.

~ Touching a person without asking.

~ Allowing someone to take as much as they can from you.

~ Letting others describe your reality.

~ Letting others define you.

~ Believing others can anticipate your needs.

~ Expecting others to fulfill your needs automatically.

~ Falling apart so someone will take care of you.

Original Text Referenced in this Article



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Articles:
How a BPD Love Relationship Evolves
The Symptoms and Diagnosis of BPD
Borderline Personality Disorder - A Clinical Perspective
Take the First Step Toward Improving Your Relationship
Supporting a Loved-one with BPD
Helping a Loved One with BPD Seek Treatment
Treatment of BPD
The Effects of a Mother with BPD on Her Children
Surviving a Break-up with Someone Suffering with BPD
Leaving A Partner with BPD
Free On-Line Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Program (CBT)
Depression: Stop Being Tortured by Your Own Thoughts
Codependency: When Our Emotional Issues Affect Our True Availability
Sexual Addiction: When the Sex is Too Important
The Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
How to Forgive an Abusive Parent
Falling in Love with an Unavailable Person
Borderline Personality Disorder Therapy - Is Your Loved One Serious?
The Five Stages of Discovery for Family Members
Boundaries Tools of Respect
The Mystery of Loving an Abuser
Surviving Abuse
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Updated: 10/18/13