22 Characteristics of Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships


You’ve struggled with relationships.

You’ve often wondered what a healthy relationship even looks like.

Wonder no more- here’s a quick list of characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships. I’ve tried to explain most a bit more to help you really “see” how your relationships fit into each category.

Take a look and see where your relationships rank.

Healthy relationships often include..

  • Mutual respect for one another and self.
    • It may seem like a vague idea – respect – but it means that both you and your partner see the other’s wants and needs and make an effort to meet them or acknowledge them.
  • Sensitivity to one another’s needs.
    • Healthy relationships have intimacy. You know each other’s hot spots and know what is important to each other. You realize the other person’s “love language,” and give them what is important to help them feel loved.
  • The ability to negotiate differences rather than fighting.
    • All relationships have quarrels. Even healthy ones. You understand how to navigate these differences of opinion or actions so that they are not harmful to your relationship. You can fight without name-calling or putting the other person down.
  • Each person taking responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
    • As mentioned, it’s up to YOU to help yourself be happy. Each person in the relationship understands it is not up to the other person to “make me happy.” In healthy relationships, each partner adds to the other’s happiness, they aren’t the sole source of it.
  • Uncertainty, ambivalence, and disagreements are accepted as a part of living
    • Again, fighting happens. S#@t happens. How you handle the “not-knowing” part of life will determine the fate of your relationship. Learn to ride the waves together.
  • Open and meaningful communication.
    • You say your truth. Even if it’s hard and it hurts. You ask for what you need, as does your partner. You talk about more than just the weather or the children. You talk about your dreams, hurts, and smiles.
  • Trust for each other.
    • Jealously  is borne of insecurity. Without trust, your relationship is doomed to fail. Constant texting and checking in about where a person is leads down a scary relationship highway.
  • Continued working on friendship, liking and loving each other.
    • It’s great to love each other, but it’s even better to like each other. Learning to laugh together and appreciating each other is a significant sign of healthy relationships.
  • Listening to the other without judging.
    • You listen, your partner listens. Even if it’s odd or it makes you uncomfortable, you’re their person and vise versa. Having unconditional love can help brace against those hard times in your relationship.
  • Attentiveness to the needs and desires of self and the other.
    • Each person is aware of what they need to feel fulfilled and does not relay solely on the other to meet their needs. You are a whole person apart but complete together.
  • Sharing of common interests and activities.
    • You need to have a least three things or activities in common – it can be silly activities or serious ones – just something you can come together and make memories of both of you doing. If you don’t have them now, explore and create common interests. Yes, it’s work but most healthy relationships are.  But, wow, are they worth it.

Unhealthy Relationships often include…

  • Doing something we really don’t want to do.
    • Of course, we all do things for those we love when we may not want to. The problem comes in when it feels one-sided. Maybe the other person always picks the restaurant or your family seems to always come last.
  • Saying yes when we mean no
    • Being honest and truthful with our partners is a must. It’s okay to feel like not doing something, but if you say yes when you really mean no too many times, resentment creeps in and sets up shop.
  • Doing something for someone although that person is capable of and should be doing it for themselves
    • Again, it’s all about a pattern. It’s good to do things for your partner, but when it becomes expected and one-sided, an unhealthy relationship pattern is created. Doing things for the other should be done out of love, not out of obligation or fear that the person will leave.
  • Doing more than our fair share of the work
    • Healthy relationships include give and take. Maybe for a stage one person does more than the other, but if you are noticing that you have the majority of the chores and daily living tasks than your partner, things may need to change.
  • Consistently giving more than we receive.
    • We often don’t notice it. It just seems to be a pattern- we’re always the over-giver and doing more for our friends and family. We can only burn our candle for so long until there’s nothing left.
  • Fixing people’s feelings.
    • We often have this myth where we think what we say or do can fix or change other’s actions. This is a lie. You alone are responsible for your feelings – the same goes for your partner.
  • Doing people’s thinking for them.
    • It’s easy to assume that we know what is best for others or we even know what they are thinking. Again, this is a false belief and this mind-reading phenomenon occurs all too often in unhealthy relationships.
  • Solving people’s problems for them.
    • What’s the natural consequence of not getting up on time for work? You lose your job. Preventing your partner from experiencing natural consequences of their behaviors (like losing job, money, friendships) is doing them, and you, a disfavor. When we prevent others from experiencing natural consequences, we keep them from growing.
  • Putting more interest and activity into a joint effort than the other person does, more often than not.
    • It’s no fun to be the one doing everything all the time. Social loafing can kill a relationship.
  • Not asking for what we want, need and desire.
    • Another myth many of us believe is that others should be able to read our minds and “just know.” Not only is this setting you up for disappointment, but it’s simply not fair. We have to voice our needs and desires to get our needs met.
  • Feeling resentful of actions and continue the activity.
    • Again, this goes with mind-reading. If you feel resentful but continue to do the activity, it’s a sign that something isn’t right. Pay attention to resentment – it’s a sign that something needs to change.

If you found yourself checking more of the boxes on the unhealthy side rather than the healthy side, you’re not alone.

You may even think, “Wow, that seems so simple, how can I not figure it out in MY life?”

If this sounds like you at all AND you’re a highly successful woman, we’ve got a new group starting soon just for you.

It’s just for women who want to figure out how to make their personal lives as fulfilling and successful as their career paths.

Yep, you’re not alone.

There’s others like you.

Check out our group: Modern Wonder Women: A Group for Successful Women Struggling With Relationships 

Modern Wonder Women Facebook graphic

 We’re beginning the group February 23rd and half the slots are full already. Click the link above to sign up now!



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