How to Build a Healthy Relationship

By John Kenny,
updated on Jan 24, 2020

How to Build a Healthy Relationship

We all seek friendship, love, and happiness with others. Here are some expert pointers to help you create strong and lasting personal connections

Every relationship needs a bit of work, no matter how long it’s lasted. One of the most common things that can affect a relationship in a negative way is what we learn to expect.

We expect that they should know us, know how we feel, what we are thinking, and constantly be on our wavelength. We assume that we know them, what makes them tick, what kind of mood they are in, and how to make them feel better. But, the long and short of it is that, well, maybe we don’t.

Here are four things that people in healthy relationships do:

They know themselves

The first and, in my opinion, the most important thing you need to do is to understand you. The relationship that you have with yourself will reflect all others that you have.

Whatever you bring to a relationship will determine how you are in a relationship, and how the other person is towards you. Knowing yourself, and what truly makes you happy, will help you to live in a positive space, and positively affect all of your relationships.

Be self-aware – get to know yourself and how you ‘tick’. By gaining this understanding, and knowing your triggers, means you can try to control them, and address what sets them off in your relationships.

Understand your wants and needs – most people will be able to tell you what they don’t want, but hardly ever what they do want. Without this knowledge, or why you have specific needs, then you may struggle to feel fulfilled.

Learn what your values and principles are. We have a tendency to live by the values we learn from others, and sometimes life can feel incongruent because of this. Living by your own values will enable you to live authentically, and align with people who live the same way.

They do it because they want to

When I first started working with clients, we spoke a lot about the importance of compromise. How we all need to give something for the relationship to be a success. However, this had a tendency to lead to animosity and a ‘you give, I give’ mentality in some people.

Compromise has a negative connotation: ‘I am giving something up!’ Nobody really wants to think they are sacrificing in this way, as what they are giving is not being given freely. So now, nobody compromises.

This will play out differently, depending on the type of relationship, but remind yourself what the best thing for you to do is.

An example is when you really care about someone, you do something for them just because you care. Giving something because you want to is a great way to ensure a happy and healthy relationship. It needs to feel authentic to make it a ‘want to’ or a ‘could do’, rather than a ‘should’.

In a healthy relationship, this will be reciprocated.

They’re always learning about each other

When we embark on a relationship, we get to know one another, and then start to assume that we really know each other.

What’s common, however, is that we get to know them from our own perspective, from what we need, and what makes us feel good.

Take the time to understand what the other person really needs to feel cared for, and don’t forget to tell people what you need

In his book The 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman says that “your emotional love language… may be as different as speaking Chinese and English”.

What he means is if you feel loved by someone telling you they love you… and they feel loved by receiving affection, you can tell them you love them until the end of the earth, and they won’t feel it. And if they constantly cuddle you, then you won’t feel it, either.

Take the time to understand what the other person really needs to feel cared for, and don’t forget to tell people what you need, too!

They talk about the good and the bad

How often, and how well, do we actually communicate with others? And how often, and how well, do we think we communicate with others? We have a tendency to communicate something when we ‘need’ to and when we ‘need’ to, it’s generally something negative.

Take some time, on a regular basis, to communicate something positive to someone. And when you have something negative to say, remember to set up a time to discuss things when everyone is in the right frame of mind to talk.

Relationships can be complicated, as we are all individuals with our own ways of doing and seeing things.

For yours to be healthy, you need to take the time to understand yourself, reflect on what other people need, and then live the best relationships possible.

To find out more about relationship counselling, visit

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