You and your partner love trying new restaurants together, going on long bike rides, and traveling, but when it comes to being happy and healthy in a relationship, there are other things to consider besides having common interests.
What exactly makes a relationship healthy? “A great relationship is a safe place for both people to love, honor, and respect one another,” says Jennifer Howell, a leadership and relationship coach based in North Carolina. You can communicate your wants, needs, and boundaries, as well as listen to the other person.
A healthy relationship is important to cultivate because the opposite — a toxic relationship — takes a toll on your quality of life by heightening depression and anxiety, impacting sleep, causing you to take up unhealthy habits, and even impacting heart health, says Mary Jo Rapini, a licensed professional counselor in Houston who specializes in intimacy and sex therapy.
Being in a high-quality romantic relationship is associated with greater well-being, according to a study from 2019. But being single was far better for someone’s well-being than being in a less happy partnership, the study found.
What’s more, many couples in unhealthy relationships don’t know that they are, especially if they grew up in a household where it was the norm, says Rapini. So it’s all the more important to be able to identify where yours stands.
Here are nine signs you and your mate are a good match:
1. You’re Not Afraid to Speak Up
It’s easy to know when your partner does something you don’t like — maybe they don’t call you for two days or don’t help out around the house when you live together. But it’s not always easy to speak up and tell your significant other how you’re feeling. “This takes a lot of strength, self-confidence, and courage, because you have to come from a vulnerable place,” says Howell. In a healthy relationship, you’ll feel secure enough to be open with your partner.
2. Trust Is at the Core of the Relationship
Trust is foundational in all relationships, but with social media and always-on gadgets, it can become all too easy to snoop. But in a healthy relationship, you don’t need to do that. In part, that’s because your partner shows you they’re trustworthy. “They’re reliable and available. When they say they’ll be there, they’ll be there,” says Rapini. They also show you they trust you by giving you the freedom and space you need without checking up on you constantly — and that includes checking your phone, she says.
What Is Your Love Language?
Your love language can be a road map in exploring yourself and your relationships.
3. You Know Each Other’s Love Language
Many couples swear by the book The 5 Love Languages for a reason: In it, you discover your partner’s “love language” — the way they prefer to give and receive love (through words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch). In a healthy relationship, you’ve taken the time to learn each other’s “love language” so you can express your love in a way that works for you both, says Howell.
4. You Agree to Disagree on Certain Issues
Every couple fights. But contrary to what you might think, you don’t need to fix every issue. In fact, it’s okay to have a handful of topics that you two will never agree on. Sometimes, “it’s totally fine to agree to disagree. I think that’s healthy fighting,” explains Rapini. “In healthy relationships, there are at least five issues that are ‘no-talkers.’ They’re the issues that you both differ in opinion and perspective on, and that’s okay.”
5. You Encourage Each Other to Go After Your Goals
“Many of us have a dream or vision for our life, and especially as we age, we want to maintain those visions,” says Howell. According to Howell, it’s okay if your dreams don’t align with one another as long as you “honor and encourage each other to achieve your goals.”
6. You and Your Partner Hold Separate Interests
“Couples who have the greatest love affairs are the ones who are able to maintain their interests, but don’t put guilt on their partner for not sharing it with them,” she says. Meaning, both of you encourage the other to explore what they love on their own. Howell agrees, adding that while it’s easy to adopt your partner’s habits and interests, over time becoming over-reliant on each other can breed resentment. “Developing and investing in yourself builds self-confidence, self-love, and joy,” she says.
7. You’re Comfortable in Your Own Skin
When you’re in a relationship, it’s crucial to know your strengths and weaknesses, says Howell. Maybe you’re confident around your friends but self-conscious at work. Or you know that little things, like your partner forgetting to take out the trash, can set you off. Whatever your strengths and weaknesses are, being aware of them can help you reach a point of loving and accepting yourself, which in turn can help you love and accept your partner.
8. Boundaries Are Honored and Respected
A healthy relationship means you’re both on the same team. “In a healthy relationship, both parties discuss and agree upon important subjects that are meaningful to one another,” says Howell. She gives the example of budgeting for something big, like a vacation. An unsupportive partner in an unhealthy relationship doesn’t honor that goal, and they may sabotage it by trying to get you to splurge on something unnecessary. If you can talk it out with your partner and they acknowledge and understand your boundaries, that’s a good sign, notes Howell. “However, if your partner repeatedly ignores what you value, including your boundaries, that’s concerning,” she says.
9. You Feel Happy and Supported
Once the initial elation of a new relationship wears off, check in with yourself: Do you feel happy and supported by your partner? How are your mood and self-esteem? If you feel any strain or lack of support, talk to your significant other — it’s the healthy thing to do.
Feeling unhappy in a relationship can lead to health problems down the road. According to a study from 2015, which looked at nearly 5,000 adults over age 50 who were partnered up, having regular negative interactions in a relationship increases the likelihood of suffering from depression and anxiety, and is even linked to suicidal thoughts, likely because relationship dysfunction drives up day-to-day stress. On the other hand, strong partnerships protect people when they’re in the midst of a crisis — exactly the time they need someone on their side.
Why You Should Disclose Your STI Status to Your Partners
In the vibrant city of Kumasi, Ghana, a tale of love, honesty, and courage unfolded. Meet Ama, a compassionate and determined young woman, and Kwame, a kind-hearted and understanding man. Their love story was one that transcended barriers, as they learned the importance of disclosing their STI status to each other.
As their relationship blossomed, Ama found the strength to open up to Kwame about her STI status. She understood that this conversation was crucial for the well-being and trust within their relationship. With a pounding heart and a sense of vulnerability, Ama mustered the courage to disclose her status, unsure of how Kwame would react.
To her relief, Kwame listened attentively, appreciating Ama’s honesty and her courage to share such a sensitive matter. He assured her that he respected her openness and cared deeply for her well-being. Together, they embraced the importance of transparency and understanding in their relationship.
Recognizing the significance of this conversation, Ama and Kwame embarked on a journey of learning and understanding. They sought guidance from healthcare professionals who provided them with accurate information about the specific STI, its transmission, and the necessary precautions to maintain their sexual health.
With newfound knowledge, Ama and Kwame fostered open lines of communication about their sexual health and desires. They acknowledged that disclosing one’s STI status not only promoted trust and respect but also allowed them to make informed decisions about their intimate lives.
Ama and Kwame understood that their journey would involve taking necessary precautions to ensure their sexual health and prevent the transmission of the STI. They diligently followed the guidance provided by healthcare professionals, including the use of barrier methods and regular check-ups.
Their journey was not without challenges, but they faced them together with unwavering support and understanding. Ama and Kwame recognized that their love extended beyond physical intimacy, and their commitment to each other grew stronger through the trials they faced.
Through their experience, Ama and Kwame learned that disclosing one’s STI status is not only an act of responsibility but also an act of love. It fosters an environment of trust, empathy, and support within a relationship. They discovered that honest communication and education were powerful tools that could strengthen their bond and deepen their connection.
As their love story continued to unfold, Ama and Kwame became advocates for sexual health within their community. They shared their experience and knowledge, encouraging others to have open and honest conversations about their sexual health with their partners.
And so, dear reader, the story of Ama and Kwame teaches us that love and honesty go hand in hand. It reminds us of the importance of disclosing our STI status to our partners, as it fosters trust, respect, and responsible decision-making within our relationships. In the vibrant city of Kumasi, Ama and Kwame celebrated their love, empowered by their openness and the unbreakable bond they had formed.
How to Cope With (and Fix) Vaginal Dryness-Naa’s Story
In the serene coastal town of Cape Coast, Ghana, a tale of love and resilience unfolded. Meet Naa, a vibrant and compassionate woman, and Kwame, her devoted partner. Their love story was one of unwavering support and a shared determination to navigate the challenges they faced, including the delicate issue of vaginal dryness.
As time passed, Naa began to experience vaginal dryness, a condition that not only affected her physically but also had an impact on their intimate moments. Sensing Naa’s discomfort, Kwame approached the situation with empathy and a deep desire to find a solution that would allow their love to flourish.
With open hearts and a commitment to their relationship, Naa and Kwame embarked on a journey of understanding and exploration. They recognized that vaginal dryness could be caused by various factors, including hormonal changes, stress, certain medications, and even certain hygiene products.
Together, they sought advice from healthcare professionals who specialized in women’s health. They learned about the various treatment options available, such as lubricants, moisturizers, and hormone therapies. Naa, supported by Kwame’s unwavering presence, sought medical guidance to address any underlying causes contributing to her condition.
In addition to medical interventions, Naa and Kwame discovered the power of open communication. They fostered an environment where discussing their desires, fears, and concerns surrounding intimacy was not only accepted but encouraged. They explored the importance of foreplay, embracing longer periods of arousal and engaging in sensual activities that nurtured their emotional connection.
Naa and Kwame also embarked on a journey of self-discovery. They learned about the power of self-care, embracing practices that nurtured Naa’s overall well-being. They prioritized stress reduction techniques such as meditation, exercise, and engaging in activities they both enjoyed. This allowed Naa to reclaim her sensual identity, free from the pressures that accompanied vaginal dryness.
As they navigated the complexities of vaginal dryness together, Naa and Kwame discovered that their love was not solely defined by physical intimacy. They realized that emotional connection, trust, and open communication were the pillars that held their relationship strong.
Naa and Kwame explored the beauty of intimacy beyond traditional notions. They embraced the power of touch, focusing on sensual massages, extended periods of foreplay, and finding pleasure in exploring new erogenous zones. They learned to be patient with one another, acknowledging that vulnerability and understanding were vital elements in overcoming the challenges they faced.
With time, patience, and a deep commitment to their love, Naa and Kwame found solace in the fact that they were not alone on this journey. They discovered that there is no shame in seeking support or guidance, as they realized that many couples face similar challenges.
And so, dear reader, the story of Naa and Kwame teaches us that love conquers all obstacles. It reminds us that addressing and coping with vaginal dryness requires patience, understanding, and a shared commitment to exploring new avenues of intimacy. In the picturesque town of Cape Coast, Naa and Kwame celebrated their love, embracing the beauty of their connection and the strength they found in facing challenges together.
Prostate Cancer: What It Means for Your Sex Life
In the quiet neighborhood of Osu, nestled in the heart of Accra, Ghana, a love story unfolded, weaving together the delicate strands of devotion, resilience, and the unwavering spirit of two souls. Meet Kofi and Akua, a couple whose love stood tall in the face of adversity as they navigated the impact of prostate cancer on their sex life.
Kofi, a kind-hearted and strong-willed man, was diagnosed with prostate cancer, sending shockwaves through their once blissful existence. Akua, a pillar of strength and unwavering support, stood by his side, ready to face the challenges that lay ahead.
As Kofi embarked on his journey of treatment and recovery, both he and Akua realized that their love was not confined to physical intimacy alone. They understood that their connection ran far deeper, rooted in a bond forged by shared dreams, trust, and unwavering companionship.
In the intimate moments of vulnerability, Kofi and Akua openly discussed the impact of prostate cancer on their sex life. They shed tears, shared fears, and explored the options available to them. They sought advice from medical professionals who specialized in cancer care, learning about the potential side effects of treatment and the strategies to navigate them.
Through their research and candid conversations, Kofi and Akua discovered that prostate cancer treatment might cause changes in sexual function, including erectile dysfunction and decreased libido. Armed with knowledge, they embarked on a journey to find new ways to connect and experience pleasure.
They explored the power of communication and trust, recognizing that open dialogue was key to understanding each other’s needs and desires. They learned to embrace the changes and limitations imposed by the illness, finding solace in the knowledge that love transcends physicality.
Kofi and Akua delved into the realm of intimacy, discovering alternative avenues of pleasure and connection. They explored sensual touch, engaged in passionate kisses, and discovered the beauty of emotional intimacy. They embraced the power of non-sexual acts of love, realizing that affection, understanding, and emotional support were the building blocks of their relationship.
They sought guidance from sexual health professionals who specialized in assisting couples affected by cancer. With their support, Kofi and Akua learned techniques to enhance pleasure, utilizing aids and devices that could bring them closer together.
As their journey unfolded, Kofi and Akua discovered a newfound depth to their love. Their intimate moments became a testament to their resilience, strength, and the power of unwavering support. They found solace in the understanding that love is not defined by physical abilities alone but by the profound emotional connection they shared.
And so, dear reader, the story of Kofi and Akua reminds us that love can triumph over adversity. It teaches us that while prostate cancer may pose challenges to a couple’s sex life, it is an opportunity to explore alternative forms of connection and deepen the bond that holds them together. In the vibrant neighborhood of Osu, Kofi and Akua proved that love is not defined by the presence or absence of physical intimacy, but by the unwavering support and unwavering commitment to stand by each other’s side through life’s trials.