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What Are Emotionally Healthy Relationships?

Emotionally healthy relationships have certain qualities, including ways of handling conflict. Learn the traits of emotionally healthy relationships on HealthyPlace.

Emotionally healthy relationships are vital to our mental wellbeing and emotional health. Positive psychologist, Christopher Peterson, referring love and relationship research, asserts that “good relationships with others may be the single most important source of life satisfaction and emotional well-being.”

We are social creatures (yes, even introverts), and we need relationships and social support to thrive. Supportive relationships—those that involve trust, empathy, caring, and nurturing—are linked to good health, including emotional health, because they are protective factors against stress and problems big and small.

Emotionally healthy relationships can happen with anyone in our lives, from romantic partners to family members to friends to coworkers or others with whom we associate regularly.  Emotionally healthy relationships are those relationships in our lives that are positive and boost both people. Such relationships make people feel glad for the connection.

Qualities of Emotionally Healthy Relationships

What is it about these good relationships that make them emotionally healthy? Emotionally healthy relationships possess certain defining qualities. Not every single quality has to be present in order for a relationship to be healthy, but a significant number of them should be. The more positive traits a relationship has, the stronger and healthier it is.

This list highlights what an emotionally healthy relationship is. These relationships are marked by:

  • A sense of “us” rather than “me”
  • Working toward common goals
  • Emotional understanding (one’s one as well as his/her partner’s)
  • Empathy
  • Mutual trust
  • Loyalty
  • Honesty
  • Mutual respect
  • Commitment
  • Healthy interdependence (needing each other, but not in an enmeshed, over-dependent way)
  • A sense of boundaries, personal space
  • A focus on the positive (emotions, thoughts, behaviors, situations)
  • Communication
  • Emotional security
  • Intimacy
  • Reciprocal, giving and taking equally
  • Kindness and caring
  • A sense of playfulness
  • Opportunities for fun
  • Humor, shared laughter
  • Affection
  • Compromise

Conflict in Emotionally Healthy Relationships

Emotionally healthy relationships aren’t perfect and problem-free. An emotionally healthy person in a positive relationship will experience conflict. Not only is that part of being human, but conflict is also actually a component of healthy relationships.

It’s inevitable. People are going to disagree sometimes. People become angry, upset, irritable. In emotionally healthy relationships, people respond rather than react. They don’t lose sight of their greater goal: a loving, caring, respectful relationship with each other. As such, they focus on the issue at hand rather than on all of the personal shortcomings of each other.

People in healthy relationships use impulse control. Rather than snapping at another person with a scathing comeback or acting on negative emotions, they make their points and respond rationally to the other person.

Some emotionally unhealthy relationship behaviors, during conflict or outside of conflict, include:

  • Avoidance (of conflict, of compromise, of the other person)
  • Being more critical than positive and supportive
  • Stubbornness, inflexibility
  • Whining, demanding
  • Defensiveness
  • Forming unhealthy boundaries (too needy or too distant)
  • Creating more conflict than connection
  • Speaking more negatively than positively
  • Using more criticisms than compliments

In contrast, conflict in healthy relationships looks like a negotiation rather than a shouting match. Conflict is unpleasant, but it happens as a result of two distinct people working out a life together. As such, the people involved listen to each other and make each other feel heard and valued. They ask questions rather than make assumptions. Above all, they treat each other with kindness and respect.

An emotionally healthy relationship is one where the people are valued above anything else.

How to Have Emotionally Healthy Relationships

All human beings have the capacity to form and enjoy healthy relationships. The surest way to do so is to pay attention to and nurture your own emotional health. Your own state of emotional health will impact your relationships.

In your relationships, think in terms of moving forward together, toward whatever it is you mutually value. Hone the qualities of a healthy relationship listed above.

Quality relationships look easy, but in truth, they take work and dedication. The work that you put into your relationships blossoms into an important aspect of your emotional and mental wellbeing and quality life. Emotionally healthy relationships have powerful effects on our overall wellbeing throughout life.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, May 12). What Are Emotionally Healthy Relationships?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/self-help/self-help-information/what-are-emotionally-healthy-relationships

Last Updated: July 29, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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