Satisfying and stable relationships are based on good communication, intimacy, friendship, and other factors. A key ingredient is a trust, the degree to which each partner feels he or she can rely on the integrity of the other. Without trust, intimacy will not develop, and the relationship will likely fail. Trust includes three fundamental elements:
- Predictability—the ability to predict your partner’s behavior based on past actions.
- Dependability—the ability to rely on your partner to emotionally support you in all situations, particularly those in which you feel threatened or hurt.
- Faith—belief in your partner having positive intentions and behavior.
What does a healthy relationship look like and feel like? Healthy and unhealthy relationships are contrasted in Figure 5.2. Answering some basic questions can also help you determine if a relationship is working.
- Do you love and care for yourself to the same extent that you did before the relationship? Can you be yourself in the relationship?
- Is there genuine caring and goodwill? Do you share interests,
values, and opinions? Is there mutual respect for differences?
In an unhealthy relationship…
- You care for and focus on another person only and neglect yourself or you focus only on yourself and neglect the other person.
- One of you feels pressured to change to meet the other person’s standards and is afraid to disagree or voice ideas.
- One of you has to justify what you do, where you go, and people you see.
- One of you makes all the decisions and controls everything without listening to the other’s input.
- One of you feels unheard and is unable to communicate what you want.
- You lie to each other and find yourself making excuses for the other person.
- You don’t have any personal space and have to share everything with the other person.
- Your partner keeps his or her sexual history a secret or hides a sexually transmitted infection from you, or you do not disclose your history to your partner
- One of you is scared of asking the other to use protection or has refused the other’s requests for safer sex.
- One of you has forced or coerced the other to have sex.
- One of you yells and hits shoves or throws things at the other in an argument.
- You feel stifled, trapped, and stagnant. You are unable to escape the pressures of the relationship.
In a healthy relationship…
- You both love and take care of yourselves before and while in a relationship.
- You respect each other’s individuality, embrace your differences, and allow each other to “be yourselves.”
- You both do things with friends and family and have activities independent of each other.
- You discuss things with each other, allow for differences of opinion, and compromise equally.
- You express and listen to each other’s feelings, needs, and desires
- You both trust and are honest with yourselves and with each other.
- You respect each other’s need for privacy.
- You share sexual histories and information about sexual health with each other.
- You both practice safer sex methods.
- You both respect sexual boundaries and are able to say no to sex.
- You resolve conflicts in a rational, peaceful, and mutually agreed-upon way.
- You both have room for positive growth, and you both learn more about each other as you develop and mature.