I used to be clingy, demanding and controlling in my relationships. I used to try to convince people to love me as much as I loved them. I was stuck in a cycle of toxic relationships that kept me from being my best self. Because of this, I found myself divorced twice at the tender age of 32. Ouch.
My relationships were more about connection and comfort than they were about passions, shared values and future. When I found someone I liked who liked me back, I jumped on board.
I've come to learn that was a big mistake. Not only should you be connected with someone physically — but you should also connect mentally, emotionally and intellectually. We must reach harmony on all those levels to thrive in a relationship.
What I learned from this is that it's so important to be selective about people you allow in your life and the relationships you allow to continue. Through all my suffering, heartbreak, embarrassment and self-reflection, I am now able to create and maintain healthier relationships with myself and others. Now, I refuse to settle for less.
Here are 9 signs that you're in a healthy relationship:
1. There's peace in your relationship and your home.
Your relationship should be your rock. It should be where you seek comfort, peace and the freedom to be completely you. If you find yourself repeatedly feeling anxiety or stress at home, or like you're walking on egg shells around your partner, it may be a red flag that something is not right.
2. You're encouraged to be independent and grow.
It's crucial that in a relationship, each person has their separate friends, dreams, hopes and desires. You partner should not feel as if they need total control over you and vice versa, or like you need to do everything together. In addition, there should be encouragement and support on all levels.
3. Unquestionable, undeniable respect is shared between both partners.
You not only have respect for your partner, but you have respect for the relationship and everything you do is in line with that. You respect the other person's values and dreams. During conflicts, you avoid name-calling; you seek to understand rather than "win" a fight.
4. Intimacy goes beyond the bedroom.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that chemistry in the bedroom is the end-all be-all of a relationship. Go beyond that and you are sure to create something that lasts. There are many other ways to connect with your partner on even deeper levels — spiritually, intellectually and emotionally. Having the right combination of all of these will lead to a successful partnership.
5. You're not constantly worried about what your partner is (or is not) doing.
When you're in a healthy relationship, you're not busy worrying about what your partner is doing, if they're cheating on you, if they love you, or where you stand with them. You're too busy creating a life and having adventures together to fret about whether or not your connection is valid.
6. You discuss issues with your partner, not your best friends.
I see so many relationships spiral downward because of miscommunication, or worse — no communication. If something is wrong in your relationship, it's your right to be able to approach your partner with your concerns and feelings. Instead of complaining to your friends, talk about it with your partner and attempt to fix what's bothering you.
7. You can see yourself with that person 30 years in the future.
Most people get into a relationship and see the future as just a few years down the road. Maybe getting married and having kids within a five-year span (sometimes less). Looking past the immediate future can really give you insight into whether this is the person you want to be in your life forever. Look ahead to when your children are grown, you've gotten gray or bald, and gained a few pounds. If you can't visualize a life with this person long-term, then it may be time to reevaluate.
8. You're not trying to change your partner and vice versa.
The biggest mistake people make when getting into relationships is to think that they can change their partner or worse, fix them. You must love that person unconditionally, as they are, how they are. Ask yourself if you can be with this person long term if they never, ever change. Puts things into quite a different perspective.
9. You get over things easily.
No relationship or person is perfect. No partnership is all rainbows and butterflies. There will be arguments, disagreements and disappointments. The key here is that you can work together to solve the problem. We all make mistakes, so have some compassion when your partner messes up and remember when you did. If you can resolve issues and move forward in your relationship, then you're on the right track!
If you find yourself reading this list and thinking how opposite this is from your current situation, I urge you to seek guidance. This doesn't necessarily mean leaving your partner, but being open to changing and looking at things differently. And if you do decide that your partner is just not the right person for you, then it's perfectly OK to let go — minus the guilt, shame and regret.