National Runaway Safeline

How to Build Healthy, Intimate Relationships


Every relationship is unique and functions in its own way. In healthy relationships, the benefits are strong with all partners experiencing love, joy, connection and satisfaction. There is no imbalance of power, and, if or when a relationship ends, there is no stalking, abuse, or refusal to let the other partner go.

So, what does a healthy relationship look like? Some characteristics may include:

  1. Communication – Communicating effectively allows you to share your feelings with your partner and build emotional intimacy and trust. This creates open discussions about similarities and differences, along with future goals and desires. Your partner is not a mind reader, so express your thoughts honestly and clearly. When you open the lines of communication, you make the other person feel safe, heard and not judged.
  2. Listening – Listening attentively to your partner demonstrates you have made them a priority and respect what they are saying. Listening and speaking are both equally important functions of communication. In response to what you hear, ask your partner honest questions and engage to fully understand them.
  3. Boundaries and Trust – Know what makes your partner comfortable and uncomfortable—physically, emotionally and sexually. Physical intimacy should always be consensual, and actions or conversation topics that are considered off-limits should be avoided. By establishing boundaries, you will both feel empowered, comfortable and safe around each other. Practicing and respecting one another’s boundaries are foundations for building trust.
  4. Conflict Resolution – When you disagree, focus not on winning the argument, but rather on using the situation to strengthen your relationship. Both partners must be willing to forgive, apologize and ultimately compromise. If not, agree to disagree and move on.
  5. Give and Take – Relationships are partnerships that require a balance of power. All members of a relationship deserve to be treated equally and should provide a healthy level of support for one another. Give the love you want to receive, and only settle for taking an equal amount of love in return—no less.
  6. Quality Time Together – Life can be stressful and busy, but it is important to make an effort to also find time for your relationships. Being together in person and doing something new, fun, or exciting helps to build a relationship and leaves both individuals feeling happy and actively engaged.
  7. Time Apart – While time together is important, it can also be beneficial to spend time apart. By doing so, you have space to develop your individuality and independence, ensuring no one feels stifled. When you are comfortable on your own, you can bring those positive feelings into your relationship. Additionally, individual bonds are just as important to maintain. Remember not to forget about your existing friends and family when you enter into a new relationship.

Relationships require effort and none are perfect, but when they are built on support, love and respect, they are deeply rewarding. Ups and downs are inevitable, and it’s important to learn how to handle them effectively. Strive for a healthy relationship by implementing the tips above. Everyone deserves a healthy, loving relationship.

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