by Liberty Stembridge, Relationships Columnist
Published in Relationships on 18th January, 2019
Okay, so, no-one really has the "perfect" relationship, but there are some tell-tell signs that you're in a good one.
Sometimes you won't agree with your partner, you may even fight. One of you might come home grumpy or tired or angry. Throughout it all however, you should have a basic level of respect for each other that allows you to always treat each other right, even when you're not feeling great - and apologise fully if you don't.
If you feel loved and safe with your partner, and know that you will be heard by them and not belittled, you know you are feeling respected. Likewise if you treat your partner with that same level of respect because you love them and value their opinions, you're in a good relationship.
Your partner should understand that you can't spend every waking moment together, everyone needs a little space. Whether it's spending a little time apart every day, or having the time to go out and enjoy hobbies and activities without your partner - if they can respect that you are your own person and need to have a life outside your relationship, then you can feel like you are accepted fully.
Boundaries are tricky, sometimes they can be difficult to pinpoint, and even more difficult to enforce. But they are important. Boundaries help to make sure that you are safe and feel respected within your relationship. They are a way of communicating clearly to your partner exactly what you will and will not stand by, so you are always clear with each other.
You'll know when you've set healthy boundaries when you feel like you can say no clearly, without guilt, you feel like you can take care of yourself and you feel safe in expressing yourself and what you're comfortable with.
Fighting is an inevitable part of any relationship. You're two different people, coming together and trying to navigate life - you will end up having disagreements, and that's good, so long as you're doing it in a healthy way. When you're in a healthy relationship, fighting should be about resolving the problem, not about "winning".
If one of you is a "loser" and the other is a "winner" then neither of you are truly benefitting, and you'll probably end up with feelings of resentment on one or both sides. Always remember that it needs to be both of you vs the problem, rather than vs each other. If you can master this, you're well on your way to the perfect relationship.
Everyone has faults, pretending like we don't gets us nowhere. While there's a lot to be said about recognising your faults and working on them, there is also value to accepting that they are probably going to be around for a while in some shape or form. If you and your partner can recognise each other faults and love each other for both the good and the bad, you're relationship will be much stronger for it.
Couples that plan their life out together, stay together. If you and your partner can envision your future together, taking into account both your goals as a couple (buying a house, having children, moving, getting married, travel plans) and your goals as individuals (career progression, bucket list goals, personal development) then you're on the right track to having a long, healthy and stable relationship.
You're goals and aspirations don't have to exactly align, you just need to make sure that you respect and value each other's wishes and make space for both of you to succeed. If there are any clashes in goals, you know how to work it out and compromise so you create a future you're both happy with.
Trust is a truly key component of any relationship. If you can't trust your partner, why be with them? You need to know that the person you're spending the majority of your time with has got your back and won't cross any important boundaries. If you can look at your partner and honestly say that you trust them fully, that's an excellent sign that you're doing well.
Communication is the number one golden rule of any relationship: if you can't or won't communicate well, you're pretty much doomed to fail. If you're not communicating well right now, it doesn't mean that you're relationship should end right away, but it is important that you are both invested in improving your communication.
If you make it a habit to check in with each other, find out how the other one's doing and really listen and think about what they say, you're probably good. There are a few other things that will help you to tell if you're communicating effectively though. Make sure you feel understood and acknowledged when you talk, know that you can talk to your partner about anything, and ensure that they know they can talk to you about anything.
At the beginning of a relationship - the "honeymoon" stage, all you want to do is spend time together and get to know one another. As a relationship progresses, life gets in the way, and your partner starts to become just another part of your everyday life. In some aspects this is a good thing - you're relationship becomes more grounded and practical as you integrate them into your life.
However, this can sometimes come with the unintended effect of failing to actually make time for each other. It's easy to come home from work, see your partner, watch some TV together and then head to bed without ever really making time to connect with each other. If you make spending time with your partner a priority, you know you're in a good relationship.
If you can honestly say that your partner is your best friend, then you're doing something right. All good relationships are rooted in friendship and companionship. You have to really like spending time with someone if you're going to live out your life with them as your partner. This might seem obvious, but sometimes it's easy to forget this.
Many couples find themselves in a position where they're only really together because they've been together for so long, they are partners financially and physically, they live together and run their lives together, but find that at the end of the day, they don't really want to spend that much time together.