Ingredients of a Healthy Relationship


Creating a relationship is like baking a cake. You must have the right ingredients, in the right amount (not too much and not too little) and you must put them together in the right order. The ingredients of a healthy relationship are as follows:

  • Honesty that engenders trust – this is mandatory
  • Readiness for a relationship is also important
  • The willingness to negotiate or compromise is part of a healthy relationship
  • Self-awareness-this means both partners knowing who they are and what they want
  • Self-esteem is mandatory in a healthy relationship-this means both partners feeling good about themselves
  • Communication skills are mandatory. This means:
    – Asking for what you want, but not being addicted to getting it
    – Fighting fair-this means expressing your opinion without attacking the other person
    – Reporting your feelings
    – Saying what you mean (not beating around the bush)
    – Listening as well as talking
  • Sexual compatibility is important. This means similar values and preferences with regard to sexual issues
  • A recognition of the fact that there are 4 people in the relationship – 2 adults and 2 children (1 inner child per adult). This means:
    – that childhood wounds will probably be triggered and sensitivity strategies must be created
    – that rituals from your family of origin must be re-negotiated and and new rituals created as a couple
    – that the wounded inner child must be kept in check. (in other words, love your inner child, but don’t give him or her the keys to the car)
  • Similar (but not necessarily identical) values about such issues as money, religion, monogamy and parenting. This avoids needless conflict. Still you don’t have to agree about everything-just what’s important to you
  • Patience and tolerance are ingredients in a healthy relationship; but you should never tolerate abuse
  • Acceptance of the fact that there will be days in which your relationship seems very ordinary or even boring. Love addicts tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. They either want a relationship to be exciting all the time, or they live with unbearable pain rather than move on. Healthy relationships are sometime luke warm
  • The willingness to substitute influencing for controlling is important
    – This means saying something once and then letting it go
    – It also means being a role model instead of nagging someone to change
  • The willingness to keep your personality boundaries (even when you feel like losing yourself in the other person) is important. This is how we maintain our self esteem
  • Devotion enhances a relationship. How can an intimate relationship feel good if both people aren’t special to each other
  • Quality time together is important. At the same time, you want to set aside time for personal interests. Look for balance
  • Knowing when to stay and when to leave is important. This means staying when things are going well (and you feel like running) and being willing to let go of the relationship if it cannot be saved
  • Compatibility and “ease” in a relationship are important. Yet at the same time, it must be understood that no relationship is perfect (Compatibility comes from being alike or having a high tolerance for your partner’s differences)
  • The willingness to face your problems (without over-reacting to them) is important
  • Respect and admiration can enhance a relationship, but there should also be an understanding that your partner will not always look good to you
  • Reciprocity (give and take)is mandatory in a healthy relationship, but then you should be willing to make sacrifices now and then
  • Finally it is important to have realistic expectations about how much of your happiness should come from the relationship-not too much and not too little

(Addiction to Love by Susan Peabody with permission from Random House. For more about Susan and her work see her website


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