While no relationship is perfect, there are some key characteristics that should be at the foundation of any relationships we build. (Contributed)

There’s no denying that relationships are hard. Maintaining connection and keeping the spark alive when life gets overwhelming and stressful can be hard. But with focus, attention and commitment, you can build and sustain a thriving relationship. 

While no relationship is perfect, there are some key characteristics that should be at the foundation of any relationships we build. These five elements are essential to a healthy relationship. 


You probably knew this one was coming. Trust is a critical component of any healthy relationship. Having trust in the other person allows you to feel safe and secure, letting you be your true self. In a healthy relationship, trust should come easily without having to question the other person’s intentions. 


Having mutual respect for your partner can be shown in many ways. The key is for partners to offer support and security, rather than judgment. In a respectful relationship, partners listen to each other, support each other, and show an interest in each other’s passions while still allowing for independence and space. In respectful relationships partners compromise equally and both have their needs met.


Healthy honesty in a relationship doesn’t mean that you need to share everything with your partner. Privacy is also important in relationships. Healthy honesty in a relationship means you feel you can be truthful without fearing how the other person will respond. You should feel like you can share the full truth about your life and feelings with each other.  


Clear and open communication and boundaries are essential to a healthy, long-lasting relationship. Being direct about expectations and limitations help create a strong foundation for interacting with your partner. Strong communication between partners can help avoid frustrations, confusion and conflict that can start from miscommunication.

Affection and Connection

Did you know…people who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression? Some ways to connect with your partner include:

  • Show interest in your partner’s interests
  • Make eye contact and put your phone down
  • Do small, random acts of kindness just because
  • Physical touch. Physical touch is important in any relationship. Hold hands, hug. 

BONUS: Healthy Conflict

Know that conflict is a normal and expected part of any relationship. In a healthy relationship, you should be able to openly and respectfully discuss issues and confront disagreements in a non-judgemental way. If you are looking for tools and skills to approach conflict in a healthy way, couples counseling may be able to help.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different, so healthy relationships look different for everyone. It takes work, but it is worth it in the end.

Maaliea Wilbur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Executive Director of TherapyWorks. With 10-plus years of experience, Maaliea’s broad-level expertise allows her to successfully support kids, teens, adults, couples and families. For information, visit mytherapyworks.com.

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Maaliea Wilbur, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, is Founder and CEO of TherapyWorks. For more information, visit mytherapyworks.com.


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