What really constitutes a healthy relationship?
For those of us who are at all interested in pursuing love relationships, regardless of how we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a fundamental issue remains: What constitutes a good romantic partnership. In this section, we provide you with an overview of the findings of expert research.
“I’ve been compiling a list of the things that aren’t taught in school,” says the author. “They don’t educate you how to love someone,” says the author.
“The Kindly Ones,” the ninth issue of Neil Gaiman’s comic book series The Sandman, is a call to action for readers.
Indeed, no one can give us a single tried-and-true formula for love and good relationships that has been proven time and time again. For various types of relationships, different methods work best, and there is no sense in attempting to come up with rigid rules for romantic relationships.
Despite this, the reasons why relationship quality may decline over time — or why partnerships collapse entirely — tend to be constant in their nature and scope.
Many academics have investigated what causes individuals to quit a relationship as well as what drives them to remain in a relationship.
In this section, we’ll provide our best research-backed recommendations for what to look for when establishing a meaningful, healthy, and happy relationship with someone.
1. Begin your partnership with a clear goal in mind.
First and foremost, research indicates that the adage “start as you intend to continue on” may have some validity in the context of romantic relationships.
As a result of this inertia, recent research suggests that many individuals who are dating end up “falling” into committed relationships, and that couples may wind up living together even though they are uncertain whether their relationship is right for them.
Many, if not most, couples go from noncohabitation to cohabitation without recognizing it; it is often a nondeliberative and gradual process, according to researchers from the University of Denver in Colorado who worked with Trusted Source.
For example, someone may end up choosing to move in with their partner and, maybe, ultimately marry them simply because they have already spent a considerable amount of time together and formed a connection.
Despite the fact that one or both couples are persuaded at the outset of their relationship that they are not necessarily well matched to one other, dating and relationships academics Samantha Joel, Ph.D., and Prof. Paul Eastwick contend that this may occur.
Alex Psaila, clinical supervisor at Relate North and South West Sussex, a registered charity located in the United Kingdom that provides relationship assistance and mediation, talked with Medical News Today about his experiences. During our interview, we inquired about early “red flags” that individuals should be aware of when beginning a new relationship.
He explained to us that blind love may hinder people from seeing potential problems and personality conflicts in their relationships. Moreover, it may lead people to believe that, no matter how inconvenient some of their new partner’s habits may be, they will surely alter with time. Psaila, on the other hand, disagreed:
“Does anybody enter a relationship with the preconceived notion that the connection is doomed?” In the event that we are aware of anything [that is not quite right], we may convince ourselves that ‘we’ll repair it,’ […] ‘Being in love’ is, for the most part, like Cupid’s blindness, and we gloss over possible problems, hoping that they would go away and that love will triumph over everything.”
The authors, Joel and Professor Eastwick, believe that if individuals spent more time doing some – possibly painful — soul searching before getting into a relationship, they may be able to prevent getting into a situation that is unsatisfying for both parties in the long term.
That is, we should approach new relationships with a clear sense of purpose, carefully considering what we want and need, and determining if the person we are dating is really likely to match with those desires and needs — and with ours — before proceeding.
According to Joel and Professor Eastwick, “people may be able to improve their own relational, health, and well-being trajectories by more carefully selecting and investing in new connections that are appropriate for them and rejecting those that are not right for them.”
2. Communicate in order to resolve a disagreement
When it comes to developing and sustaining a good relationship, open communication is essential, just as it is in any other situation.
Furthermore, when it comes to resolving conflict in a long-term relationship, calm, open, and constructive communication is important since no interpersonal connection is ever completely devoid of conflict.
According to Profs Nickola Overall and James McNulty in a recent research on communication during conflict, “stress may develop in relationships when partners encounter competing objectives, motivations, and preferences.”
The probable causes of conflict in a romantic relationship may be many, and Profs Overall and McNulty include, among other things, unfulfilled expectations, financial problems, the division of duties, parenting styles, and jealousy as potential sources of disagreement.
When disputes go unresolved or when the stress associated with conflict is high, even the most fulfilling relationship may be jeopardized.” Furthermore, “controlling and resolving disagreement is challenging, and it may itself be a major cause of stress,” the researchers point out.
So, when it comes to resolving disputes in an intimate relationship, what is the most effective method of communication?
According to the researchers, it is dependent on the situation. However, they assert that concealing one’s emotions and concerns, as well as hastily sweeping disputes under the rug, is unlikely to be beneficial.
According to Professors Overall and McNulty, it is critical for couples to first assess the environment in which the dispute has developed before deciding how to effectively resolve it.
The researchers say that when a significant problem is at stake, it is critical for both parties to voice their contrasting viewpoints and discuss the path of change.
For couples who are experiencing disputes over small problems or situations that are beyond of their control, it may be more beneficial for them to recognize the problem while also expressing mutual affirmation, love, and forgiveness to one another.
Psaila voiced a viewpoint that was comparable to MNT’s. Those who “say sorry and make restitution [when they recognize that they have done something harmful]” are those who “keep good, happy relationships,” according to him.
Nevertheless, Psaila emphasizes that people “do not hold on to clandestine, concealed guilt” after experiencing an unpleasant experience.
“They learn from their errors and recognize that being conscious of their vulnerability is a source of strength. Their trustworthy family, friends, mentors (and even [professional] counsellors) may and will assist them in seeking assistance and guidance.”
Alex Psaila is the author of this piece.
Psaila further points out that individuals who want their relationship to succeed are more likely to be receptive to seeking professional counseling, not just when things go wrong but also to ensure that they remain on track.
3. Make time for things that you can do together.
We can all agree that life may get in the way of spending quality time with the people we care about, even when we share a living space. For example, the responsibilities of our jobs may leave us with little time — and sometimes even less energy — to spend time with our spouses doing something we both love.
However, research suggests that couples who engage in enjoyable activities together may find it simpler to maintain their relationship.
According to one research reported on MNT last year, couples who spend time together playing board games had a higher quality love life than those who do not play board games.
The researchers discovered a straightforward explanation for this association: partners who participated in these enjoyable activities together had an increase in oxytocin, often known as the “love hormone,” so named because it plays a critical role in bonding behaviors.
Researchers Karen Melton, Ph.D., and her colleagues — who carried out the board games research — point out that for a couple’s activity to result in a rise in oxytocin, it is probable that the activity must include contact between the partners.
It is possible that just attending an event together but not engaging will not have the same bonding impact as participating.
The researchers also discovered that the novelty element had an impact on how much oxytocin couples released: couples who planned their enjoyable activity at a new location outside their house had a larger “love hormone” increase than couples who played at home..
What is the takeaway? Doing enjoyable activities, preferably in new and unexpected environments, may assist to preserve the quality of a relationship.
4. Create a personal place for yourself.
Although it is vital to spend quality time with our loved ones, it is as crucial to spend quality time on our own — and to enable our partners to do the same.
“A good relationship is like to taking a deep breath in and then exhaling,” Psaila said to MNT.
A cycle of proximity and distance, of coming together and even merging and separation, individuation and [creation of] a feeling of self […] exists. Both are very essential. According to him, if the connection is too far (there isn’t enough intimacy), then the notion of seeking closeness elsewhere may emerge (possibly camouflaged as feeling abandoned and unwanted).
To the contrary, too much intimacy may make a relationship seem like a trap, and when pushed to an extreme — for example, when a partner progressively separates their “significant other” from friends, family, and activities that they love — it may even be a symptom of emotional abuse..
“If the connection is too tight, even stifling, the pair [becomes] fused, and there is little room for exploration and development, of other interactions, of missing your loved one and longing to return, or of introducing new ideas and energy into the relationship,” says the author.
Alex Psaila is the author of this piece.
5. Show that you are paying attention and that you are grateful.
In the “honeymoon” period of a relationship, when a pair is just starting out, the partners will lavish each other with love and expressions of gratitude.
However, as time passes, couples may begin to take each other for granted and cease to express the same level of adoration that they previously had for one another.
Several studies have shown that one of the most common reasons for long-term couples to divorce is because one of the partners is no longer expressing enough love and attention to the other.
In addition, according to a 2018 research, young people between the ages of 18 and 29 who believed their spouse put in the same amount of effort into starting text exchanges reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
Furthermore, according to other study, women who reported being happy in their love relationships also stated that their spouses were complimentary of their physical appearance. And they said that their sexual lives had improved as a result of the study.
Finally, while monetary presents are not a reliable indicator of love in any relationship, some research has shown that when a partner is able and chooses to give gifts, this may add to overall relationship happiness if done properly.
According to research conducted last year, a present that increases relationship happiness must be thoughtfully chosen. According to the study, the presents we give to others may reflect the picture we have of them as well as the image they have of themselves in our eyes.
Unless the two factors are in sync, it is probable that the present we choose will be unsatisfactory to the person who will receive it. However, according to the experts, if we get to know our partners well, we will be able to choose a present that is a true match for their personality and interests — and that will reflect well on our relationship.
Regardless of how you choose to display your love, expressing your gratitude for your significant other on a regular basis — and not only on Valentine’s Day — is a certain way to keep your relationship in good shape.
However, even if you put out all of your efforts into a love connection, it is possible that it may not work out, and this should not be seen as a source of regret.
If you are in a relationship that does not make you feel happy, safe, and respected, it may be time to shift your attention inside and invest more in self-love before deciding how or whether to start again with someone else.
The healing power of love: how relationships may help both the body and the mind
“All you need is love,” the Beatles sung in their song “All you need is love.” When one examines the many studies that have been conducted on the health advantages of being in a good relationship, it is possible that they were onto something. In this spotlight, we’ll take a look at the health benefits of spending time with someone you care about.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many individuals who are lucky enough to be in partnerships will be planning for a day of festivities. Individuals who are health concerned may look at boxes of chocolates and dinners at restaurants with suspicion, but it is important to realize that, aside of these pleasures, a slew of health advantages have been discovered for people who are involved in relationships, including:
For many, sex is a workout, raising the heart rate and achieving an average peak during climax similar to other kinds of mild exercise, such as going up the stairs. It is also OK for individuals with heart disease to engage in sexual activity, as long as they are able to do comparable activities (such as going up two flights of stairs) without suffering chest discomfort throughout the process.
Aside from this, though, being in a relationship has a variety of additional health advantages. And being in a loving relationship is not always a bed of roses; various kinds of relationships have varied impacts on the person in the connection. We’re looking into it.
Put a little love in your heart and see what happens.
The heart is one of the most prominent symbols of love, and it is probably natural that love is linked with one of the most essential organs in the human body, both physically and metaphorically. Given that February is American Heart Month, it would seem wise to begin by looking at the less apparent advantages to the cardiovascular system.
The presence of a fulfilling relationship has been shown to increase the likelihood of a patient’s survival following coronary bypass surgery, which is a very aggressive therapy for heart disease. The benefits of pleasure were shown to be equally as significant to survival as conventional risk factors such as obesity and cigarette use, according to the research.
This result may be explained by the fact that good relationships encourage healthy behaviors such as stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy weight.
Less active displays of affection, such as kissing and cuddling, may also be good to cardiovascular health in certain cases. According to one research, couples who held hands for 10 minutes followed by a 20-second embrace had better responses to a public speaking taskTrusted Source than individuals who just sat and did nothing had healthier emotions.
Short periods of warm social and physical contact between couples resulted in lower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and smaller spikes in heart rate, with outcomes that were similar for men and women.
As the authors write, “These results indicate that loving relationships with a supportive spouse may be associated with reduced response to stressful life events.” According to the findings of the research, loving relationships may be associated with improved cardiovascular health in certain people.
When left untreated, hypertension may progress to severe diseases such as heart failure, stroke, and heart attack. It has also been shown that it may raise the chance of cognitive deterioration later in life, according to research. It is important to note that being in a relationship has many other advantages for cognitive functioning outside reducing blood pressure.
You have it on your mind all the time.
Researchers have also shown that sexual activity is beneficial to one’s mental health. An observational research including 46 men and women found that, like other kinds of physical exercise, sex is effective in lowering stress levels.
Stress tests, such as performing mental arithmetic out loud, were used by the researchers, who discovered that individuals who had sex were better able to deal with stress than those who had no sex at all.
Sex may also help to enhance a person’s overall feeling of well-being. In a much bigger research of 3,000 individuals aged 57 to 85, it was shown that those who were having sexual relations evaluated their health much higher than those who were not having sexual relations.
This research found that being in a fulfilling relationship in general, rather than simply having sexual encounters, was associated with increased well-being. In their study, the researchers discovered that individuals who were in intimate relationships were more likely to report being in “excellent” or “very good,” rather than just “good” or “bad,” health.
In accordance with the Mayo Clinic, thinking positively in this way may result in further health advantages, including a decrease in the likelihood of developing the following conditions:
Colds and flu are common.
Mortality as a whole.
In an interview with Medical News Today, Dr. Larry J. Young of Emory University in Atlanta, GA, said that the advantages to health and well-being that come from being in a relationship are best understood by looking at what occurs when a connection is lost, whether via death or divorce:
When a loved one dies (such as a spouse or romantic partner), the odds of dying rise, as does the likelihood of having an autoimmune response or developing cardiovascular disease.