A healthy relationship. Sounds heavenly, right? It also sounds (to me) like one of those things you see listed in a pamphlet somewhere about how you should eat your veggies, recycle your old stuff, and grow your own fruit.
In other words, it sounds unattainable. It's not.
Building -- and maintaining -- a healthy romantic relationship is a heck of a lot easier than growing strawberries (without the deer eating them).
Here are some gentle guidelines for building solid, lasting relationships.
1) Take a step back and look at the reasons you want to be part of a couple -- is it because you need someone or because you want someone (and feel that you, in turn, have something to offer)? Strong relationships are not based on need.
2) A healthy relationship involves the word "team," not the words "me" and "you." When the honeymoon period of the relationship wears off (and trust me, it always does), you're left with a partnership. Is this a partner you can trust to make decisions for you? Do you want the same things out of life? Are you on each other's side NO MATTER WHAT? These are all aspects of good relationships that are very important in the long run.
3) Remember: the picture-perfect, happily-ever-after does exist. In the movies. There's no shame in wanting to have that happily-ever-after, but recognize that in real life, we don't always have the hilarious punchline, we don't wear an impeccable size 1, and relationships can, from time to time, be challenging.
4) Love yourself. I'm not sure which pop princess said it first, but it bears repeating: you must love you. If you're not loving on YOU, you're not going to have much to give to a partner. And? You'll attract the wrong KIND of partner for YOU.
5) This is probably the most important of ALL my advice, and something I should have tattooed on my forehead when I was a teenager: DO NOT SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU DESERVE. If you're looking around and have that sinking feeling in your gut, you know what I mean. Remember: you're worth it. End of story. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
What other advice do you have to offer about healthy romantic relationships?
Image via ciocci/Flickr