What is a healthy relationship?
A healthy relationship is one where two healthy and whole human beings are attracted to one another and choose one another as companions on life’s journey.
Before we can talk about relationships, we have to focus on one person, because when you have two people the equation gets a little more complicated. Let’s take the simplest part of the equation first — just you.
When you’re whole, you don’t need someone else’s validation to be happy — because you accept yourself. You don’t need someone else to love you in order to feel loved — because you love yourself. That’s not to say you don’t love to be loved by others, or want others in your life — but you already provide the foundation of what you need, all by yourself, by accepting and loving yourself.
When you’re whole, you are not insecure, because you aren’t worried so much about the other person leaving. Sure, it would be a great loss for your loved one to abandon you, but you’d be fine on your own. You wouldn’t be “alone” because you have the best company in the world — yourself. You know you’d survive, be happy, do great things, even without that person. That’s not to say you don’t want your lover to stay — but you aren’t always afraid of the possibility of that person leaving.
When you’re whole, you don’t need the other person to check in with you all the time, because you’re happy on your own. You’re OK if they go do their own thing, because you’re secure in your relationship and you’re perfectly fine doing your own thing too. You don’t need reassurance of that person’s love, because you’re secure.
A relationship, by definition, can only be as healthy as the individuals in it. Two broken, needy, insecure, and/or immature individuals cannot “complete” one another. When they form a relationship, they will both end up with twice the brokenness, neediness, insecurity, and/or immaturity they had before.
The individuals in a healthy relationship do not need each other. Each of them is a whole person by themselves. A solid relationship is two whole people coming together because they love each other’s company. They come together not out of need, but simply because they enjoy each other’s company and want to spend life together.
Only healthy people are truly free to choose one another. Broken people always think they are choosing, but they are driven by their emptiness and deep need for the other person. “I need you,” as romantic as it sounds, actually means, “I am not free to choose not to be with you.”
When one person in a relationship believes they are healthy and whole, but that the person they are with is broken, it is almost certainly the case that the first person is not healthy and whole. Healthy and whole people rarely choose unhealthy and broken people as partners. Brokenness is obvious to them, and is a turnoff.
Broken people, however, will be deeply attracted to other broken people. To a broken person, brokenness in others feels like love. If both are needy and insecure, there will be constant fights about why you didn’t check in with me, why you’re so distant today, why you’re talking to that guy, what you’re doing when you go out with your friends, etc.
The work of saving a broken relationship is always the work of the broken individuals becoming healthy and whole. As that happens, the relationship will naturally begin to heal. It is next to impossible for broken people to be in a healthy relationship, and it is just as unlikely that whole people will be in a broken relationship. The only exception to this is when a broken person in a broken relationship finally sees their brokenness clearly and does what must be done to become whole.
But if both people are whole, they can be apart and are secure enough not to worry about the other person, and are happy being alone. They can come together and be happy, enjoying each other’s company. They don’t need each other, but love each other and care for the other person’s happiness — not worrying so much about their own happiness, because they are secure that they’re already happy.
The respect each other, and themselves. They are compassionate for each other, and themselves.
“When we are in a truly loving relationship, we receive the gift of being known and accepted. We become more, not less, of who we are. We receive the space in which to bloom. This is how we know we are in a loving relationship. We are blooming, and the one we love is blooming as well."