Being obsessed with each other and spending all your time together means that you must be in a pretty awesome relationship, right? Wrong! Knowing that your love life is in great shape is a little more complicated – but these 20 signs will set you straight.
20. You find yourself thinking “we,” not “me”
It sounds like a cliché or something a shrink would say, but it’s true: if you have the same life goals as your partner and focus on what’s best for the both of you, that’s a sign of a healthy relationship. “Couples who put their marriage above their own desires are more likely to flourish,” W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, told The Huffington Post in 2014.
19. You trust each other completely
Maybe it sounds pretty obvious, but trust is much harder to actually put into practice. And a happy relationship needs real two-way trust in order to thrive. That means, naturally, that you talk about everything – and that there are no shady secrets or unspoken desires between you.
18. You’re just as happy spending time apart as well as together
No one wants a clingy, needy partner; it’s just not fun. As Dr. Abigail Brenner has explained in a 2015 piece for Psychology Today, you’ll know that your relationship is in really good shape if both of you are perfectly content doing things individually as well as together.
17. You motivate each other to grow and change
Okay, so you only hear people say “she makes me want to be a better man” in bad movies and cheesy songs – but there’s actually a lot of wisdom behind those words. In fact, the best partners encourage and even challenge each other to develop and move forward.
16. You disagree sometimes… but always respect the other’s opinion
Let’s face it: finding someone who agrees with you on everything is nearly impossible. Plus, it’d get pretty boring after a while. And according to Dr. Brenner, the key to a strong relationship is that whenever you do disagree with your partner, you’re still respectful of their views and perspectives.
15. You actually, properly listen to each other’s problems
And no, we’re not talking about nodding along and pretending to listen while you’re secretly thinking about what to have for dinner. We’re talking about actually listening. If you find yourself genuinely engrossed in your partner’s lengthy tales of workplace politics, you know that you’re in a solid relationship.
14. You don’t have rom-com fueled ideas of your relationship
Do you have elaborate fantasies of transforming a grouchy but secretly sensitive guy into the man of your dreams? You’ve watched too many Katherine Heigl movies and you need a reality check. Having realistic ideas of what a relationship should be is really important for its long-term success.
13. Sharing is caring
Turns out that “there’s no “I” in team” is a good motto for relationships as well as group sports. And indeed, whether it’s doing the dishes or helping the kids with their homework, you should both put in equal effort and share things fairly. According to Dr. Brenner, it’s a great way to know if your relationship is solid.
12. You like each other’s family – but have boundaries
Your relationship won’t last very long if you don’t like each other’s family – so if you do both get on with the in-laws, your relationship is probably in great shape. But it’s also a good idea to keep sensible boundaries – like, does your mother-in-law really need to let herself in and do laundry every weekend?
11. You’re still your own person with your own identity
You know those couples who spend so much time together they start to look a bit like each other? That’s bad. It’s a sign of a good relationship if, after a long time together, you’re still your own person. After all, romantic as it may sound to lose yourself in the other person, it’s not a great idea for a healthy relationship.
10. You’re genuinely interested in the other person
To even start a relationship, you’re probably already pretty interested in that person. But it’s important to actually show that you’re interested by taking time to ask real questions. When it comes to attachment theories, moreover, science shows that actively participating in communicating your interest goes a long way to keeping a relationship strong.
9. You talk each other up
It’s been established that couples who are in healthy, happy relationships make positive comments about each other to their friends, colleagues and, well, pretty much everyone. That’s according to a mix of findings taken from attachment research, the University of Iowa’s John H. Harvey and Julia Omarzu, and The Gottman Institute – as outlined in Psychology Today.
8. You respect them even when you discover their flaws
In our modern era of Tinder and never-ending choice, we expect everything to be perfect. Turns out that’s not a great attitude to apply to your relationship. Because hey, guess what? People are flawed. So if you accept each other, including the bad parts, that’s an awesome partnership.
7. There are more positive interactions in your relationship than negative
That seems like an obvious point, but when the going gets tough it’s not always easy to keep exchanges upbeat and care-free. As professor Will Meek has explained in a 2013 article for Psychology Today, though, if you’re finding more positive interactions in your relationship than bad ones then you’ll both feel better about being in the relationship.
6. You both make the effort to find compromises
Here’s more super-sensible advice from the scientific minds at the Gottman Institute, as well as Harvey and Omarzu: find solutions. Of course, problems always come up in any relationship – but the couples who can really go the distance are the ones who will think of ways to work together.
5. You know how to apologize, not just when
If you are holding grudges against your partner, that’s a bad sign – but recognizing when you’re at fault and how to apologize and move on will help. According to Will Meek, the happiest couples don’t wait to sort out arguments or problems. In fact, they make amends straight away – and that often means starting with a good apology.
4. You can tell your partner “no”
California-based counselor and couples psychotherapist Nancy Wesson has stated that it is important that couples are able to refuse the other without damaging their relationship in the process. “Each person can say ‘no’ to requests from [a] partner when necessary without feeling guilty and tell their partner when something feels not right or hurts them,” she has explained on her website while discussing the tenets of a healthy relationship.
3. You know how your partner needs to feel loved
Whether it’s giving flowers or a compliment, strong couples know what the other needs to feel appreciated. “You know you are with the right person when they tell you what makes them feel loved and you are happy to generously lather them with whatever they need. And they do the same for you,” sex and relationship specialist Dr. Tammy Nelson told The Huffington Post in 2014.
2. You fight, but you fight fair
Arguing is common, even in good relationships. The sign that you’ve found a keeper, though, is if you disagree in a constructive way. “A good relationship is one where the two of you fight fair. In other words, you don’t curse, scream, talk down to each other or dismiss each other,” relationship expert Dr. Terri Orbuch told The Huffington Post.
1. You miss each other when you’re not together
Missing each other is a critical part of a great relationship. “If they are ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ that doesn’t bode well,” Science of Relationships co-creator Benjamin Le explained to The Huffington Post. “But if you have an emotional response to him or her being away, it’s a signal that you really want to be with him or her.”