3 Core Principles of Healthy Relationships
I’m Dan, the author of Improveyoursocialskills.com
I wrote Improve Your Social Skills to help people build healthy, positive relationships with all of the people in their life, whether friends, family, or romantic partners. There’s a lot of sleazy social skills advice out there, so I wanted to help people develop those abilities without having to check their integrity at the door.
I was excited to discover Nick’s site because we share the same values when it comes to relationships. You really can be a gentleman and still get the girl—and you’ll end up with a much richer, satisfying connection than if you tried to use sneaky tricks to win her heart.
Since healthy relationships are so important to both of us, Nick asked me to share my thoughts with all of you. Learn these three principles and you’ll know how to have a fulfilling romance.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
Freedom and acceptance
In a healthy relationship, both partners feel accepted and have the freedom to be themselves.
That means that both partners should be able to relax without worrying that the other will judge them for their thoughts or actions. You should never need to hide part of yourself to be accepted by your partner.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that your partner has to approve of everything that you do. If you’re making a bad decision, I hope they speak up to let you know!
But you shouldn’t feel that you have to agree with their opinions for them to accept you, and you shouldn’t feel like you need your partner’s permission to make your own decisions about your life.
Even when you disagree, you should still respect each other’s opinions. If your partner belittles your beliefs, or doesn’t treat you like an equal, that’s a serious sign of an unhealthy relationship.
In addition, you should both feel that you have equal freedom to talk about the relationship, and to bring up problems that you see. If my partner does something that upsets me, I should be able to (gently) let her know. And if she sees something wrong in our relationship, she should be able to bring it up so we can find a solution.
Meaningful lives outside the relationship
In a healthy relationship, both parties have fulfilling lives outside of their own relationship, and maintain close friendships with people other than their partner. They support each other to pursue those important parts of life that are outside of the relationship.
It’s not uncommon for people to let everything else in their life slide when they start a new relationship. They stop spending time with friends or pursuing their goals because a new person quickly takes up all of their time.
This is unhealthy.
A dating relationship should be a significant part of your life, but it’s only part of your life.
Moreover, your partner should support you in your individual hobbies and goals. You should be encouraged to get that degree, to sign up for that bowling league, or to spend some time with that friend you haven’t seen in awhile.
And you should do the same —even if that means they spend less time with you. If it’s important to them, it should be important to you.
Both partners should make it their goal for one another to be happy and fulfilled, not to have their partner make them happy and fulfilled.
This is the most important point.
If you are more concerned with what your partner can do for you than with what you can do for your partner, then you should not be dating them. And vice versa.
It’s natural to think about the good things our partner can do for us—they give us someone to talk to, alleviate our loneliness, and feel really nice to kiss or hold. And it’s okay to want those things and to enjoy them.
But your goal in your relationship should not be to get everything you can from your partner. It should be to give everything you can to your partner, because after all, giving is what love is all about.
Of course, your partner should also have this motive.
If you give everything you can to someone but they rarely give to you, they’re taking advantage of you (and you shouldn’t be dating them.) Stay away from the trap of “If only I gave more/became a better partner, maybe my partner would start to give to me.”
But hopefully you do care about your partner, and they do care about you. And when that is true, something incredible happens.
You can stop worrying so much about yourself, and instead focus on meeting their needs. And they can stop worrying so much about themselves, and instead focus on meeting your needs. You trust your partner to take care of you, and they trust you to take care of them.
There is a beautiful interdependence that is created, where the two of you can rest in each other’s presence and know that you are safe and loved and accepted. You can trust that you don’t have to have it all together, because your partner has your back, and loves you even when you make mistakes.
One day, you might be presented with the opportunity to settle for a relationship that is toxic and superficial. Don’t do it.
The beauty and joy of a healthy, interdependent relationship is an experience like none other, and it’s worth the wait. Don’t cheat yourself by settling for something less.