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6
Feb

5 Secrets To Healthy Relationships

Relationships can be difficult to navigate even when they seem healthy for you. Technology, pandemic-related stress, and maladaptive coping mechanisms have become part of modern dating. However, green flags in a relationship will often indicate that you are on the right track and can lead to fulfilling relationships.

We often hear about the red flags in relationships; signs that the relationship is unhealthy. Green flags signal that the relationship is healthier and your potential partner may be a healthy match for you.

When it comes to healthy relationships, look for these 5 (not so secret) green flags:

1. Intimacy beyond sex.
A sign of a healthy relationship is that you are successful in sharing intimacy with your partner through daily reminders of love. This can include emotional, intellectual, experiential, or spiritual intimacy.

Once you learn how your partner receives love (or feels) loved, intimacy can be easier to build with one another. This recognition of how one feels loved is highlighted in the The 5 Love Languages™ book written by Gary Chapman.

According to www.5lovelanguages.com, “the premise of The 5 Love Languages™ book is quite simple: different people with different personalities give and receive love in different ways. By learning to recognize these preferences in yourself and in your loved ones, you can learn to identify the root of your conflicts, connect more profoundly, and truly begin to grow closer.”

The 5 Love Languages™ is a helpful resource to determine how to show up for yourself and loved ones in ways you, and they, prefer. For example, if you know that your partner‘s love language is Acts of Service, you can take out the trash or do the dishes without your partner asking you to do it. Be curious about your partner and their needs, as well as your own.

Sexual health is also important to build a healthy life with one another, and it is not the only intimate factor that plays a part in close relationships.

Image: Group of people covering their ears do not want to listen each other. Read More: “When Being Positive Can Be Harmful: Common Missteps That Lead To Further Suffering”

There will be times when you and your partner are both feeling high stress at the same time, so it is important to communicate about how you are feeling.

That way, you can set reasonable expectations about what you need. Getting vulnerable about what does and doesn’t work for you can also build intimacy and personal growth.

Learning how to first, identify what you are feeling and second, how to communicate what you are feeling can be hard if you aren’t used to it.

A therapist who specializes in relationships and/or a couples therapist can help if you are struggling to find the words. Often this is because we are not taught how to manage or identify our emotions as a kid.

2. You know how to fight well.
The goal of a romantic relationship is not to have zero arguments. Instead, the outcome of the conflict can be that you learn how to communicate when you disagree with your partner.

It is okay that you don’t agree on every detail of life because you are coming together as independent humans who have lived experience already. When you fight; look and listen for ways you can respect your and your partner’s boundaries, seek to understand each other’s point of view, agree to disagree when appropriate and not as a form of gaslighting, and figure out how to compromise to move forward together.

Notice how you each respond to conflict. Do you tend to shut down or do you become louder? Do you feel tense? Do you feel an urge to run away? Do you feel the need to resolve the matter ASAP? What do you notice about your partner’s response to conflict. What do you need in order to work through conflict? What do they need? Answering these questions individually and then together can help you work through conflict better.

Image: Nonbinary couple looking at each other fondly.

Behaviors to avoid: the silent treatment, gaslighting, violence, emotional abuse, or other abusive behavior. These are all barriers to creating a healthy partnership and feeling understood. Strive to resolve the conflict in a timely manner to avoid further individual story creating of the situation and hurt.

In conflict, seek to understand the other person’s experience – even if it doesn’t feel good to you. Often when we hurt our partner or do something we aren’t happy about, it can be hard to hear how it impacts those we love. Listen to understand not to respond.

Share time listening to understand each other and keep in mind – it is not about the intention of what we say or did, it is about how our behavior or words were received. Bottom line, know what you and your partner need in order to work through conflict, respect each other’s needs even if they don’t make sense to you, and talk through it respectfully and with kindness.

Taking breaks during heated conversations can also be helpful. As long as you come back to each other.

3. You have your own interests.
In a more healthy relationship, you can spend time with your partner, and it is okay to have your own interests as well. Your partner is not your sole provider in meeting all of your emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. They are human.

It is your job – and theirs – to develop a life outside of your intimate relationship, which can lead to mutual respect and championing one another as you grow a long term relationship or marriage.

When two individuals come together who have already built a life outside of each other, it is easier to build intimacy and trust within the relationship.

Resentments can occur if you expect your partner to be your sole provider for all of your needs. It may feel okay for a little while, but it is not a long-term solution.

4. You and your loved one understand your relationship patterns.
Successful relationships are formed when partners are able to reflect on primary patterns they have learned over time. Often, people will recreate patterns learned from childhood in their relationships with significant others.

Read More: “5 Ways To Resolve Conflict With A Health Approach”

It can be helpful to identify your attachment style so that you can work toward safety in your relationship or come into a partnership with awareness of how you attach with people. This can lead to a happy relationship that promotes mental health.

The book, Attached by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel Heller, M.A. is a helpful starting point to find out how you attach to others and how they attach to you as well as help you to understand past unhealthy relationship so that you don’t continue to make the same relationship mistakes.

Another great read, Your Brain On Love: The Neurobiology of Healthy Relationships by relationship expert Stan Tatkin, PsyD. is another look at how our attachment styles impact our relationships.

Our attachment style impacts all of our relationships in different ways and is an important component to learning more about yourself and how you can show up for yourself and others in more healthy ways. For residents of Colorado, our therapists in Denver at Denver Metro Counseling can help you get to know yourself through the lens of your attachment style; helping to improve how you relate.

5. Conversations include eye contact and listening.
It can be powerful to listen with your whole body to your partner. Not every conversation requires full engagement, and if you have stated a need to be heard, a green flag can be that your partner makes time to have the conversation. As stated above, listen to understand, not to respond. Listen to hear the impact you and your partner’s behaviors and words impact each other, regardless of the intention.

A couple may need to make time for a conversation when it doesn’t feel convenient as a preventative measure. It doesn’t have to be right in the moment, and you can develop communication about what important conversations feel and look like before you have them. Don’t wait too long to have conversations.

A partner who is willing to communicate with you in an emotionally regulated way is likely to help you build a healthy relationship. Healthier relationships often start with successful communication, which can lead to relationship satisfaction.

Image: A lesbian couple walking together holding hands

Green flags are a great starting point and can be developed more lovingly together with therapy or without therapy throughout the relationship with clear communication. If you want to get ahead of developing unhealthy patterns in your relationship, a couples or individual therapist can help with this.

It is equally important to learn about how you show up in relationships based on these 5 relationship themes so you can learn how to be a better partner as well.

Uncomfortable conversations are inevitable. Learning how to ride through the uncomfortableness can create healthy, intimate partnerships that are worth the short-term discomfort.

Knowing your limits and boundaries can help you navigate unknown territory in a safe way for you.

Ultimately, your partner doesn’t have the provisions to fulfill all of your needs, and that expectation is unfair in any relationship.

Learn about your patterns so that you can partner with other healthy individuals in a loving way.

And, seek relationship support.

You don’t have to have a mental illness or already be in an unhealthy relationship to benefit from the preventive and exploratory benefits of therapy.

Our therapists at Denver Metro Counseling understand healthy communication patterns, attachment styles, love languages and many other helpful relational tools that can help you and your partner. They can help you learn to work through the discomfort reaching your ultimate goal of being a healthy partner in a healthy relationship.

Schedule a Free Consultation with One of Our Denver Therapists

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Written by: Randi Thackeray, MA & Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC
Clinically Reviewed and Edited by: Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACS, ACC


Denver Metro Counseling is a group of clinicians who provide teen therapy, young adult therapy, adult therapy, family therapy and other counseling and therapy in Denver and throughout Colorado. We specialize in relationships, codependency, communication and boundaries and provide supportive therapy for people struggling with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, ADHD, negative body image, and more
Denver Metro Counseling

Our Clinician’s Bios:
Jessica Wright, MS, LPC, LPCC
Audrey Bristol, LSW
Molly Ward, LCSW
Karan Steuart, LCSW, LAC
Julie Reichenberger, MA, LPC, ACC, ACS

Follow Denver Metro Counseling on Facebook: Denver Metro Counseling and Instagram: @denvermetrocounseling for other helpful information.