By Sheridan Riolo
For many, February means Valentine’s Day, a time to celebrate loved ones and relationships — romantic, platonic, and familial. There’s truly no limitation on who you can give a heart-shaped box of chocolate to.
February also marks Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, a time when we are reminded that unhealthy relationships and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age.
With this month-long emphasis on relationships, you may be wondering what are the ways to tell if your relationship is healthy? Whether your relationship is long-term or just beginning, here are a few ways to determine if you’re in the healthy relationship you deserve.
Your gut gives you the green light
Our gut instinct is one of the most amazing things we’re given, but we’re often encouraged to ignore it. When you think of the person you’re wondering about, what is your gut telling you? Does it tense up? Drop? Feel all warm and fuzzy? While a healthy relationship does not mean a perfect relationship, the healthy behaviors should outweigh the unhealthy ones. Meaning: You should feel GOOD most of the time you’re with this person or when you think about them.
You can be yourself around them
One tried and true test to tell if your relationship is healthy is feeling like you can be your authentic self around someone else. Honesty can be scary, but this person creates an environment that encourages you to share every part of yourself — the good, the bad, the embarrassing, and the goofy. You can rely on them not to tell anyone your secrets or talk behind your back. They celebrate who you are and are proud to be with you.
You can express boundaries
You feel emotionally and physically safe around this person, knowing they won’t put you in a position that makes you uncomfortable. Conversations about boundaries are welcome and you know they’ll do their best to respect the ones you’ve set. You’re not afraid to disagree or give feedback they may not like because you know you two can handle conflict in a healthy way.
RELATED: Your Questions About Consent Answered
You can grow in the relationship
Just because you become an “us” doesn’t mean you stop being a “you.” A partner or friend should encourage you to be your own person, not see it as a threat to your relationship. They’ll support you in pursuing new interests and goals, loving yourself, and nurturing your relationships with others. Independence is a sign of a healthy relationship for a reason — it shows that they value who you are as your own person and want the best for you.
You enjoy spending time together
This may seem simple, but relationships should be fun! Whether you share every hobby or none, you and your partner or friend spend meaningful time together. You can talk for hours and never get bored. You have inside jokes that make you cry from laughter. You can do nothing together and still have a good time. Whatever your thing is, you love being in this person’s company no matter what.
I said it earlier, and I’ll say it again: a healthy relationship does not mean a perfect relationship. If you’re not feeling 5 out of 5 right now, take some time to reflect on why. It may be worth starting a conversation with your friend or partner — or even yourself — about what you need. Remember to hear them out, too! Relationships are all about equality.
If reading through this list has made you realize you’re not in the relationship you deserve, we’ve got you! One Love has tons of resources on navigating endings and staying safe in the process.
Sheridan Riolo is an Engagement Manager in One Love’s California Region. Her “why One Love?” — I do this work because I’m fascinated by so many aspects of relationships, and being at One Love allows me to talk about relationships day in and day out.
Sheridan’s favorite healthy sign is Comfortable Pace.