When you think of relationships, you might picture a romantic relationship that involves emotional and physical intimacy and commitment. But in reality, a relationship is any kind of association or connection between people—from platonic friendships to business partnerships to ethical nonmonogamy. Regardless of the type, research suggests that positive relationships add meaning and value to your life, along with a host of health benefits (think lower stress levels, restful slumber, stronger mental health, and more).
One of the most important qualities of a good partner is loyalty. Loyalty is a deep-seated, unflinching love for another person that doesn’t come from fear of abandonment or resentment. Loyalty can be cultivated through daily actions, such as not blaming or criticizing your partner for their flaws, and by honoring their opinions and needs, regardless of whether you agree with them.
A healthy relationship also provides you with a sense of security. When you’re in a stable and fulfilling relationship, you feel like you have a soft place to land if you need to take risks or pursue your dreams. This can help you stay more confident and self-assured, which in turn can lead to better outcomes in all aspects of your life.
Relationships can be challenging, but when you put in the work, they can be incredibly rewarding. While many relationships fail, it’s not impossible to salvage a marriage, find new love, or develop a deeper connection with someone you care about.
The first step is recognizing what makes your relationship healthy or unhealthy, and identifying any problems that you can work on. Then, commit to addressing those issues and making changes. You and your partner may not be able to solve every problem, but you can find ways to compromise, listen and understand, and forgive each other.
Intimacy is another key part of a healthy relationship. It’s a feeling of closeness and emotional attachment that comes from spending quality time together, whether that’s a night out on the town or just a few hours at the end of the day to snuggle up on the couch. Creating a foundation of trust is also essential, and that means being honest with each other about your feelings, needs, and fears.
Of course, you should still have other relationships outside of your relationship, such as friends and family. If you find yourself unable to maintain other relationships, it might be a sign that your relationship isn’t healthy for you. Similarly, if your significant other doesn’t respect your ability to maintain your independence, you should consider taking steps to improve the health of your relationship.