Everyone has several different types of relationships in their lives. When it comes to intimate relationships, you deserve to feel supported and to be in a healthy space. Unfortunately, not all relationships are positive, loving, and functional.
To maintain a strong relationship, partners need to be responsible to each other both emotionally and physically. Prioritizing respectful interactions, open communication, and well-managed expectations can go a long way toward keeping your relationship healthy. Here are four areas of responsibility you and your partner can focus on together:
1. Physical Expectations
You may have heard the phrase DTR — define the relationship. The DTR talk helps you both know where you stand. It’s important to be on the same page about when and if you’re ready to have sex. If you’re at that point in a romantic relationship, having the conversation about whether you wish to date exclusively is also imperative.
Are you only seeing each other? Are you both sexually monogamous? This leads also to understanding each other’s status in terms of sexually transmitted infections.
These conversations can be awkward but you need to know to be in a healthy and responsible relationship. You both must take your own health into account. If you don’t have these conversations, you could wind up contracting an STI.
Maybe you’re in a newly exclusive relationship and discovered a herpes flare-up. Be sure to talk to your partner about it so they are aware and can receive the proper genital herpes treatment if they start to experience symptoms. Some of these treatments can even be delivered right to your home through online providers.
You also need to contact your previous partners as well in case they might have contracted an infection. This can feel uncomfortable, but it’s the responsible thing to do for the health of all involved. Try not to be embarrassed. It’s far more responsible to have these talks than to ignore them. STIs and herpes are common, so discussing them can remove the stigma and help get everyone healthy sooner.
2. Open Communication
You should feel safe and respected when talking about sexual expectations. But there needs to be effective communication in all areas of your relationship.
In healthy relationships, you need to be able to communicate your needs and feelings with each other. It can take a little time to learn your partner’s style of communication. Working together to find that balance will make your relationship stronger.
Talking about your needs, feelings, money, and more can make you feel vulnerable. Sometimes you might have to set certain boundaries or limits with each other as well. In a healthy relationship, both parties should respect these boundaries. Doing so can bring you closer as a couple.
In a responsible relationship, everyone should also feel supported and heard. That means you both need to express how you feel and listen to the other. This goes a long way in showing respect for each other’s feelings and needs. It also helps you be on the same page in terms of values.
However, if your partner is using language to twist things or manipulate you, that is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. They might not be aware they are doing it. Having a conversation about how you can communicate more openly can help clear up any misunderstandings.
3. Healthy Conflict
Even those couples with the best communication will have conflict. No two people are exactly the same and disagreements will arise. It’s healthy to disagree on things. Sometimes you learn more about each other when you disagree. You can also grow in your relationship by finding a compromise that makes both of you happy.
But when you avoid talking about your conflicts it can be unhealthy. Avoidance can cause disagreements and conflicts to fester. Avoiding an uncomfortable conversation can make a small issue blow up into a huge deal. Several little things can suddenly morph into a monster of a fight.
Your response to conflict can impact your relationship more than the conflict itself at times. Slamming doors, yelling, or refusing to talk to your partner about what’s wrong will not solve the conflict.
Disagreements can turn into full on fights. How you communicate with each other can play a big role into how these fights are resolved. The language you use matters. Work together to learn how to fight fair and make up. This can go a long way to help you have healthy conflict
4. Willingness to Forgive
Part of being in a mature and stable relationship is the willingness to forgive. You also must be willing to admit when you’re wrong. Taking responsibility for your actions and saying, “I’m sorry” can be a sign of mutual respect and love.
When the other party apologizes, being able to offer forgiveness can help you build trust in your relationship. It can show you’re still there when the other person has messed up. Being able to ask for forgiveness and receive it allows you to grow in your relationship. It can also
help take away resentfulness and blame for past mistakes.
Taking responsibility to forgive also builds on open communication and healthy conflict. To get to the point of resolution, both are necessary. Sometimes you need to have difficult conversations in this area as well. Saying, “I’m sorry” doesn’t absolve you or your partner from anything you did to hurt each other.
You or your partner might make excuses about your behavior that aren’t fair. Share your feelings about why you might be hurt. Talk about what you both can do to treat each other with more kindness. Talking through these difficult topics can get you to a place of resolution and forgiveness.
When you give another person your heart and they give you theirs, it comes with responsibility. Openness and vulnerability about physical expectations, communication, and healthy conflict can help your relationship grow. Being willing to listen, forgive, and be forgiven also shows a level of maturity and respect.
Everyone deserves to feel supported in this way. Working together with your partner can help you have a healthy, loving, and functional relationship.