Every generation and even every person has a different understanding of what constitutes a healthy romantic relationship. To me it is a relationship that allows the people in it to stay happy and balanced and to feel supported. It is something that stands the test of time. I feel like there are several things that are essential in order for such a relationship to happen.
Know that you are already complete and whole
Before entering any romantic relationship, the people involved need to have learned how to stand on their own two feet. Looking for a partner to make you strong, safe, competent, financially secure or to tell you who you are, feeds into the idea that you yourself are not complete. That you are missing something. That there is something wrong with you. The relationships that are forged with this mindset tend to be fleeting because the people in them have not learned to love and empower themselves. Hence they could not possibly know how to love or empower someone else.
“Healer, heal thyself,” the saying goes. If you cannot love yourself, do not expect someone else to do it for you. And do not promise to love them. A person who does not love themselves cannot love another. They are simply looking to fill a void they have within with someone else’s energy.
It is rewarding to be with a partner who does not need you. This is a person who is whole, who is balanced. If they are with you, then it is because their interest in you and their appreciation for who you are are genuine. They want you.
Do not try to change your partner
It is possible that there are things that will change about both of you after you enter the relationship. But this should not be your expectation. You cannot simultaneously love someone as they are and expect them to become someone else so that you can love them. Either accept them or walk away. It is not fair for either of you to settle for someone who does not meet your standards out of fear of being alone, and then to try and change the person you are with.
Such behavior emanates insecurity. It is akin to compromising your values. And life does not reward that.
On the other hand, certain flaws you will want to simply close your eyes to. After all none of us are perfect, not even you, so it is only fair not to expect your partner to be perfect either. Communicate if you feel like a compromise can be reached or let go.
Reciprocity and interdependence
Many people who understand the need to be independent and fulfilled outside of a relationship, then fail to forge lasting relationships, because they fall into the trap of seeing reciprocity as neediness and interdependence as a weakness.
To a small degree this is accurate. But to a larger degree it is not. Reciprocity is a prerequisite to any successful relationship. Would you enter into a business contract with someone who took goods, services or money from you and gave you nothing in return? Would you try and convince yourself that love is unconditional and therefore it is okay to only give and not to receive?
Of course not. You are not looking for a child or a cat, you are looking for a romantic partner. You may love a person unconditionally, but you should not stay with them and build a future with them unconditionally. Nor should they with you.
If you are giving your love and affection and not receiving some love and affection in return, then there is a good chance that your partner is simply not invested in the relationship. Never or rarely getting reciprocity in any form will make you notice that a relationship is not balanced. It will make you wonder if staying with this person will make you lose too much of the respect that you hold for yourself.
A relationship also requires some interdependence. This does not mean that you should give up your friends, family, interests, job or who you are. It means that each one of you will come with a particular set of strengths and weaknesses. You are likely to make a stronger and more dynamic couple is you embrace and take advantage of each other’s strengths rather than fight for control over every aspect of your lives.
You should be brave enough to give up some of your autonomy and still know that if things don’t work out this will not destroy you.
You are never in a relationship with just one person
You will also be in a relationship with their family, their friends and their colleagues. You need to be secure enough in who you are, what you bring to the table and your partner’s feelings for you to embrace the whole package. Your partner is not your property. Nor are you theirs. Be happy that they have so many people who care about them. And be ready to make your own needs and boundaries clear in the most respectful and loving way you can.
When all is said and done remember that all of us change and grow as individuals. It is entirely possible that someone who once represented an ideal partner will not grow at the same pace as we do. Then we will need to part ways. This is not a sign of our personal failure. It is simply a sign that life, in its infinite wisdom, had other plans. Should you find a partner for life, value them and know how tremendously blessed you are.