How to build a healthy relationship? What’s a healthy relationship? “So many men, so many minds” doesn’t work in this case. There can’t be several definitions of “healthy”. A healthy relationship is not about drama and it’s not about constant thrill. If there’s a lot of that in your relationship, if it feels like a rollercoaster, like playing hot and cold – unfortunately, it’s not a healthy relationship. In the blogpost Relationship Requires Hard Work: True or False? I mentioned that a healthy relationship is about being mentally healthy and mature. According to MentalHealth.gov, mental health is psychological, emotional, and social well-being that helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
So, when it comes to defining a healthy relationship, one of the best ever quotes about true love and what a healthy relationship should look like is this one from Holy Bible:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Thus, I was shocked when I read a quote about love by Charles Bukowski: “Love is all right for those who can handle the psychic overload. It’s like trying to carry a full garbage can on your back over a rushing river of piss.” I pity those who believe that’s what love is like. People who think like that never been in a healthy relationship.
Trying to understand what made the famous author say that, I have learned that Charles Bukowski’s father was frequently abusive, both physically and mentally, beating his son for the smallest imagined offense. Here is what’s written on Wikipedia on his early years:
“During his youth, Bukowski was shy and socially withdrawn, a condition exacerbated during his teen years by an extreme case of acne. Neighborhood children ridiculed his German accent and the clothing his parents made him wear. In Bukowski: Born Into This, a 2003 film, Bukowski states that his father beat him with a razor strop three times a week from the ages of six to 11 years. He says that it helped his writing, as he came to understand undeserved pain. The Great Depression bolstered his rage as he grew, and gave him much of his voice and material for his writings. In his early teen years, Bukowski had an epiphany when he was introduced to alcohol by his loyal friend, son of an alcoholic surgeon. “This [alcohol] is going to help me for a very long time,” he later wrote, describing a method (drinking) he could use to come to more amicable terms with his own life.”
As one can see from this brief biography, the author of that terrible quote about love had difficult childhood which was the reason for developing a number of psychological problems. This supports the statement made earlier in this blogpost that a healthy relationship requires both partners to be mentally healthy and mature.
But what can a person brought up in a dysfunctional family, a person with a ton of negative beliefs about love and relationships, a person who has never been in a healthy relationship, or maybe even has never witnessed a healthy relationship do to overcome their psychological issues and eventually build a healthy relationship which will be just like that kind of love described in the Holy Bible and not like in that quote by Charles Bukowski? Keep reading to learn how to build a healthy relationship.
How to build a healthy relationship
Reconsider your beliefs
If you were growing up in a dysfunctional family or if your parents’ marriage isn’t a happy one, or if you’ve had some negative and painful romantic experiences in the past, you might have a number of limiting or negative beliefs about love and relationships. Examples of such are: “love doesn’t exist”, “marriage makes no sense because all marriages end with a divorce”, “no one will ever love me”, etc. So, let’s see in detail how one can reconsider their beliefs about a healthy relationship and love to be able to finally build a healthy relationship.
Every negative belief has its cause
In case you have negative beliefs about love and romantic relationships, try to find what made you adopt these beliefs. What caused these beliefs. Whether it was growing up in a dysfunctional family, or witnessing an unhappy relationship, being in a toxic relationship, etc.
Stop watching movies, listening to sad songs about toxic relationships
Mindset is everything. What you believe in comes into your life which is why if you want to build a happy and healthy relationship, you should avoid watching movies and TV series about dysfunctional families, listening to sad songs about toxic relationships, etc. Stop adopting other people’s mindsets. Being in a toxic relationship: being abused, neglected, ignored, chasing people, begging for affection is not what a relationship should be like and it’s not what you deserve. If you think that you’re not good enough to be loved and feel safe and happy in a romantic relationship, it’s not true. It’s a mindset you adopted from someone or that someone made you adopt. Remember that you can heal and build a beautiful happy and healthy relationship full of love, respect, and care.
Stop thinking that toxic relationships will happen with you
People who have ever been in a toxic relationship may start fearing that it will happen to them again. However, it’s just a limiting belief, a result of trauma. Your mind can’t predict the future, so there’s no guarantee that your next romantic relationship will be just as toxic as the previous one. Don’t let your negative mind fool you! If you work on your psychological problems and overcome them, if you set boundaries knowing what kind of behavior you’ll never put up with again, develop a positive outlook, realize your true goals in life and in your future relationship, and choose the right person (mentally healthy and mature meaning ready for a serious relationship) – there’s a good chance that your next relationship will be healthy or at least much healthier than the previous one and having common life and relationship goals, you and your future partner, committed to personal development, will work on further improving your relationship together.
Stop thinking that you have to choose between love and career, between dreams and a healthy relationship
Once I’ve come across an interesting quote about love and relationships: “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”
I don’t like the message conveyed through these words because it makes people think that they have to choose “one way”, to choose between love and dreams that the author of the quote also equates to career which is not always true and what’s more, that you have to fight for love or citing the quote, “follow men”. Love is not about following men just like following dreams doesn’t necessarily mean building a successful career at the expense of a meaningful romantic relationship. This quote reveals a number of negative beliefs about love, romantic relationships, and even dreams.
The truth is that you don’t have to choose between following your dreams whatever they are and being in a healthy relationship because a romantic relationship is not a distraction or an obstacle on your path to success. On the contrary, a romantic relationship, if it’s a healthy one, can provide support needed for following those dreams and achieving success. Let’s not shift the meaning of love. Love is not something bad just because someone’s negative past experience. Our goal is to overcome our psychological issues, trauma, get rid of negative beliefs, and to stop anticipating the worst to happen so that we never engage in another toxic relationship or at least in case we find ourselves in a toxic relationship, we are able to realize the potential of such a relationship and have the strength to end it in order to heal and then build a healthy relationship with another person who is ready for it.
Know that you are worth to have a healthy relationship
Now when you’ve reconsidered your negative beliefs on love and relationships, it’s time to work on your self-esteem, confidence, and self-love. See Self-Care is Making Yourself Your Priority where I write about what true self-care is. It’s not just a bubble bath and a gua sha before sleep. If you love yourself, you care about your mental well-being much more than about your appearance. Caring about appearance too much is a validation-seeking behavior which signifies your self-esteem is pretty low. See Why You Don’t Need Validation from Others – a blogpost that will help realize that internal validation is the only validation you truly need.
So, speaking about self-love and thus self-care, self-care also means the ability to end relationships that no longer or have never served you. To be able to build a healthy long-term relationship, you should be confident that you’re worth it. You deserve to be loved, protected, feel safe and confident. You deserve to be loyal to. Never let anyone persuade you that you don’t deserve it. If they tell you so, they don’t want you to be happy.
Stop being negative
Don’t let fears, anxiety, and negative thoughts decide your future and make you give up your dreams and don’t let irrational jealousy ruin your relationship. Work on developing a positive outlook. “Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.”― Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness.
It doesn’t mean that you should be naïve and ignore red flags in relationships. Pay attention to red flags if there are any and never put up with them but stop expecting the worst to happen to you at any moment in any relationship. Don’t accept negative people into your life and put an end to any relationship that is not based on mutual respect, support, love, care, common goals. How to know if a guy cares about you? Read 15+ Signs That He Loves You.
If your negative thoughts are based on evidence, let this person leave no matter how hard it may seem in the beginning. Don’t risk your future happiness, it’s too valuable. They’ve made their choice. Just don’t exaggerate, don’t make up problems and become paranoid. You can’t control people or situations because you’re not God. Let what’s meant to be happen and then act accordingly to solve the problem. Don’t forget to put yourself first: if you don’t do it, no one will.
Respect yourself and people will respect you too
Don’t let potential partners use you and treat you badly. Know your worth! Never settle for less, never lower your standards. Choose the right partner from the very beginning. Don’t give a chance to people with bad intentions towards you. Pay attention to red flags. See 15 Hidden Signs He’s Not Into You to learn how to tell when someone is using you.
Being clingy or desperate is NOT about a healthy relationship
Don’t chase people – be busy with your own life then you won’t lose yourself in a relationship. People who want to be with you don’t need extraordinary efforts from you, they’ll make some efforts too. Those efforts should be equal. If someone doesn’t want to spend time with you, you’ll feel it and there’s no need to chase that person in that case. A person who respects themselves and values their time will never be clingy.
Don’t be afraid to stay alone
Many people fear being alone for a long time which is why some of them agree to date someone just for the sake of not staying alone. They engage in meaningless relationships which sometimes leads to starting families with people they don’t love or people who don’t suit them. Thus, we see many dysfunctional families that consist of people who were never meant to be together, so they start destroying each other. It’s better to be alone and wait for someone who will respect you, love you, protect you, support you, guard your mental health; for someone who will suit you because you’ll share values and life goals than to agree to date someone who is not meant for you. Don’t settle for less.
Any relationship may end and while you shouldn’t live your life fearing that moment (if it ever comes), you should understand that it might happen and you should know what you’ll do if it happens. Like having a plan B. Because you obviously don’t want your life to be destroyed in case the relationship ends.
A healthy relationship is about being mentally healthy and mature. Someone may say that love is missing in this combination. Actually, no, as mentally healthy and mature people have no need to engage in a relationship without mutual love. See a related blogpost 24 Beautiful Quotes About Love that can help you build a healthy relationship.