You know those relationships that drain your energy? The ones that impact your ability to really thrive at home, at work, in life? There are consequences of enduring them and failing to face up to reality that something’s just not right.
And while there’s no point pretending a relationship has a future if it doesn’t, it’s just as important to recognize when relationships are right, when they’re worth investing in.
So whether it’s with your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends or your co-workers, here are seven signs of a good, healthy relationship:
Great relationships are built on a foundation of trust—something that takes time to build and is hard to regain once it’s lost. Without trust, relationships of every kind will fail. You know you trust each other when you feel safe, comfortable, open, close. It’s reflected in your willingness to listen to the tough stuff—and learn from it.
You express yourselves openly and honestly. No topic is off limits. Both parties feel heard. You engage in honest and respectful conversations that allow you to understand one another and build a genuine connection. When you have problems and concerns, you share them directly and not with other people. You never complain or criticize behind each other’s backs.
Both parties recognize that neither of you is perfect. You accept each other the way you are. Too often we focus on what we expect or hope people will be, and while it’s important to recognize how people can grow or learn, holding onto who you expect someone to become will inevitably lead to disappointment and frustration.
To make the relationships in your life work, you and the other person both have to do your part—because it takes two to tango. You make decisions together and listen to each other’s concerns and preferences. You bring your ideas and opinions together and remain open minded to one another’s point of view. You work with mutual trust and respect to achieve what you each need.
Healthy relationships are energized by laughter, by fun. While you can’t expect anyone to be happy every minute of every day, good relationships uplift our spirits and make us feel loved and accepted. Most people are capable of frustrating or annoying us at times, but what matters is the ability to move past petty disagreements and look for reasons to enjoy each other’s company.
You treat each other with care, consideration and compassion. You are friendly and speak with warmth and consideration. You are generous toward each other. When we choose to invest in the needs of others, the impact is significant.
Holding on to baggage weighs heavily on any relationship. Resentment, disappointment and frustration, when left unresolved, erode trust and drain our spirit. You know you have a great relationship when you are able to express how you feel and let it go. You are able to forgive shortcoming and failings. You support one another. You learn from the experiences you face, and you move on.
Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. She works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Getting the Best From People and The Corporate Dojo: Driving Extraordinary Results Through Spirited People.