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Pillow Talk: Aiming for a Healthy Relationship

We all have an idea of what constitutes a healthy relationship, what it entails and who it's with. But why, then, do so many people knowingly get involved in unhealthy relationships? Before diving head-first into a new relationship, it's worth paying close attention to a few tips.

It takes time to find your ideal love match. It's wise to evaluate potential partners the way you would a new friend. Consider their values, character traits, and their relationships with others before becoming too vulnerable to them. You wouldn't trust a new girlfriend with all your deepest secrets or desires overnight, would you?

Be sure to distinguishing sex from love. There's a great deal of pleasure and connectedness derived from being intimate with someone, but that's not the same experience as being in love, or being respected, known and admired by someone.

Men are not psychics. Please be brave and ask for what you want. Be honest about your needs and your dislikes. As with friends or family, masking unhappiness can lead to resentment and blow ups down the road.

It's easy to get worried when we discover low tide in a relationship. However, this is natural and you should both expect to work at keeping the romance alive. Checking in with each other helps foster closeness with your partner. People do change and grow. Learning and growing together can only enrich your relationship.

No relationship is perfect, ladies, but it should be respectful, loving and healthy.

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popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I saw this article on MSN today called Don't be a Fool for Love, and thought it related pretty well to this discussion. Click here to view.
ESPNgirl ESPNgirl 9 years
i really take this approach to relationships in general and i think it works for the best. my current boyfriend of over a year has been my friend for over 1 1/2 years, and i really wanted to get to know him, trust him and learn about him before i went any further, and really, i wasn't even seeking like this massive connection that was formed. it was never about sex; it still isn't! and the best part is that it doesn't *matter*. Ultimately, yes, it matters in a relationship, but to fall in love w/ someone, to be with someone, and to know that all that happened before going that mile was even considered, well, that just proves that there are decent men afterall :)
katie225 katie225 9 years
ooh, dearsugar, my favorite piece of advice you just gave was that men are not psychics! this is so true! for some reason, many women don't tell their significant others what they want from a relationship. they keep their mouths shut about marriage and babies, afraid that they'll scare the guy away. but don't you want to scare the guys that don't want to have babies and get married away, if those are the things you really want? the guys who stay with you after you say, "these are the things i want in life, and i'm looking for a man who wants to share these things with me," is probably going to want to share those things with you, too!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
My last boyfriend was a disaster. I walked into an unhealthy relationship despite ALL the red flags. We met and it was like "true love", we were going to get married, he was "the one." Really intense connection, stayed up all night talking, blah blah. He broke up with his girlfriend at the time to be with me, and admitted he'd cheated on her in the past. (I refused to do anything with him until he broke up with her.) The reason he cheated, of course, was that things just weren't right with her and he knew it deep down, but well, we were "in love" so he would never feel the need to cheat on me. Well, funny thing... he cheated! I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but when we're in those first stages of delusion in a relationship, you can't just turn of that "connection" or "passion". I mistook that feeling for love or falling in love, only to realize later that's not love at all! I'm not sure what it was but when it came down to it, we didn't love each other. We were insanely attracted to the idea of each other. Bad idea, but I'm not sure how I would have stopped myself. I think I was sure he could (and would) change, just for me.
frenchvanilla frenchvanilla 9 years
Kindness is key, laughing is important, even the physical... but the way you fight determines so much about a relationship and whether it will last. I am lucky enough to have found someone who I could admit my 'scorekeeping' tendencies to, who suggested we see a couples counselor (we are not married, just dating) to work on the stuff that isn't perfect. It's been hard work but agreeing to go was one of the best decisions of my life. Not just for the relationship, but me. After ending a marriage no one wants to fail again, and it makes you so risk-averse that no matter how much we may want a healthier relationship the second time around, sometimes a third party can bring the objectivity you need. And Marci is right - it's the communication! "The greatest gift we can give each other is rapt attention to one anothers existence" ~Sue Atchley Ebaugh
andaman andaman 9 years
Also try to remember when you are fighting you are actually on "the same side" (especially if you are married and it doesn't involve cheating).
andaman andaman 9 years
I think making sure you have a laugh together is important!
Marci Marci 9 years
Ohhh, it is soooooooo easy to confuse lust and love. We've all been there. When the sex is fantastic, we think that it's that chemistry we've heard so much about. Well, it IS good chemistry if you're having good sex, but sex does not a relationship make all by itself. Communication is crucial to a good relationship. We can't read each other's minds, so the talking is important - for good and for bad. Be open, caring, loving; keep the relationship a priority, communicate verbally and physically - these are the things I've found keep my own relationship a happy one. Even when we hit the bumps - and some of them have been doozies - getting it out on the table and making up really does strengthen the bond.
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