Healthy relationships

In a healthy relationship, you should be able to go out with your friends on your own without feeling guilty about leaving your partner behind. You shouldn’t have to share passwords to your email, social media accounts or phone. And you shouldn’t have to give up all the things you like doing, just because your partner doesn’t have the same interests.

Sex and healthy relationships

In healthy relationships, both partners know what each other does and doesn’t like. They also know how far they’re comfortable going with sex. If one partner says no, the other one will always respect that decision, even if they are disappointed or don’t like it. You should never feel like you have to have sex to keep your partner.

We’ve spoken to the relationship people, Relate, to get some of their top tips on building a healthy relationship. Keep reading to find out if you:

  • Are getting your “five a day” to strengthen your relationship
  • Express affection with your “love language”
  • Can build more trust in your relationship

Are you getting your ‘five a day’ when it comes to the positive interactions that will strengthen your relationship?

Researcher and author Dr John Gottman had a breakthrough moment when studying couples who stayed together. He found couples that remained together shared a key characteristic in the way they connected with each other – they had one negative interaction for every five positive ones.

A positive interaction might be a thoughtful action, a kind word, or a hug whereas a negative interaction could be a criticism, a disagreement, or anger. So to keep your relationship strong, make sure you’re getting the balance right.

How does your 'love language' influence how you express affection?

We all have different ways of showing that we care. These different ways of expressing affection can be called ‘love languages’. Realising you speak a different love language to your partner can be a turning point in understanding one another better, helping you to realise they do love you – it’s just they’re showing it in a different way.

The main five love languages that people use are; giving gifts, carrying out kind acts, spending quality time together, physical touch and saying nice things to each other.

How can I build trust in my relationship?

Building trust in a relationship can take more time than you might think. It’s something a lot of us feel should come naturally, but there’s plenty you can do together to create a more trusting bond.

This might be things like: talking about how much time you need to yourself, discussing which details of your relationship you’re comfortable sharing with other people or just being more open about anything you’re finding difficult. Setting boundaries and talking openly about the future of your relationship are good places to start.

Content reproduced with kind permission from Relate, the relationship people.

Useful links

  • Relate provides information and support on parenting teenagers, and how to adapt to changes in your child’s behaviour as they grow upon their website
  • Relate also offers online live chat with a counsellor as a free service as well as webcam counselling and message a counsellor as a paid for service. Free live chat is very popular so you might want to try and avoid the busiest times which are over lunch (between 12pm and 2pm) and after work (between 5pm and 10pm)
  • Brook has lots of information on relationships written for people under 25. This covers everything from trust and jealousy to sex and intimacy as well as how to spend time together…and apart
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