Happy romantic relationships are a lot about affection, physical attraction, and similar interests. But in the long-term, there are many more relationship qualities that are necessary. American philosopher Cornel West has stressed, “We have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment unless there is loyalty unless there is love, patience, persistence.”
A relationship is a dynamic concept and needs constant evaluation and nourishment. An ardent gardener would regularly look at each plant, check if it is doing well, and take corrective action. Partners in a relationship are like gardeners; they have to constantly tend to and nurture their garden, which is their relationship.
There are qualities of strong relationships which couples can learn to cultivate so that their garden blooms and thrives. Contrary to what the Beatles’ said, love isn’t all you need to have a happy life (though it’s an important aspect of it!). Let’s take a look at what it takes to cultivate the healthiest of relationships, with some insights from clinical psychologist Dr. Nimisha, who is a couple’s therapist and life coach.
11 Relationship Qualities That Are A Must Have For A Happy Life
“After a string of bad relationships, I realized I was approaching them the wrong way,” Anthony, a 28-year-old musician, told us. “I expected rainbows and butterflies, I expected perpetual harmony and love. When the first sign of trouble reared its ugly head in my relationships, I’d find reasons to bolt.
“I thought a few bad qualities in a relationship meant the whole thing was rotten, and there was no hope for it. I later realized that my expectations in relationships were often askew and that the qualities to look for in a relationship won’t be put on display for you, you need to find and cultivate them,” he added.
Just like Anthony, it’s possible we may be approaching relationships the wrong way. It’s only human to expect the best qualities in a relationship to start from day one and never end but that’s not how it goes. Often, the difficult days will make it look like it’s impossible to love this person, but what matters most is how you don’t let a few bad qualities in a relationship spoil the whole thing for you.
There are a lot of aspects to finding joy in a relationship. And mostly, it might not be possible to nurture all of them at the same time. Don’t you worry, we’ve got your back. Which are the strong relationship qualities which make for happiness? Here are 11 we have picked out for you.
1. Joy is the basic quality needed in a relationship
This may seem obvious, and with good reason too. Joy is integral to a happy successful relationship. What’s the point of being in a relationship if it doesn’t bring you joy? True, there are ups and downs – good times and not-so-good times. But overall, there must be joy. Fun and laughter are aided if one or both partners have a good sense of humor.
The ability to laugh at yourself and your foibles is a gift that enriches the couple’s relationship. Tending to feel content most of the time is another mantra for a joyful relationship. It is not necessary for both partners to be extroverted, fun-loving people.
Cheryl is an exuberant person with an easy laugh, while her husband, Roger, is an introverted person with a quiet sense of humor. Together, they complement each other and have a joyful relationship. Undoubtedly, joy is one of the most important intangible qualities in a relationship. What’s a relationship if it doesn’t make partners happy to be a part of it?
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Being gentle with each other – verbally, emotionally, and physically, is a given. Kindness, patience and compassion go hand in hand with gentleness. A gentle partner gives you a sense of safety and you are able to be vulnerable with him or her. This is truly a romantic gesture.
Gentleness and compassion also give you the capacity to forgive, which is vital in a long-term relationship. In the words of German theologian and physician Albert Schweitzer, “As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.”
However, people often assume that raised voices and fights are bad qualities in a relationship. The truth is, a relationship cannot exist without fights, raised tones, and a not-so-gentle attitude during them. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean that that dynamic is bound to fail. In fact, when you’re able to practice gentleness after a screaming match, it just signifies that you value the relationship enough to let bygones be bygones.
While chemistry is the magnet that may draw a couple to each other, mutual respect is the relationship quality that glues them together. Respect includes appreciation for each other’s achievements and successes, however small. Developing respect in a relationship is also respecting each other’s boundaries.
Miranda loved her husband David very much but somehow she could not respect him. The reason: he could not hold down a job, was a messy person, and often forgot to do assigned household chores. All the love in the world cannot rescue a relationship where mutual respect is missing.
Out of all the qualities of a strong relationship, mutual respect is an absolute must. No dynamic can survive without it, since there isn’t going to be any reciprocity or shared effort. A relationship is supposed to be a union of equals, a lack of respect won’t let that happen.
4. Effective communication is a quality of a strong relationships
Can you talk to your partner about anything? Can you confidently say that you can tell them anything about what’s on your mind without fearing that it would incite a fight? More importantly, can you effectively communicate your dissatisfaction, and land on an effective solution for the same?
Someone who you’re able to do that with has the qualities of a good relationship partner. If you find someone with whom you can talk about absolutely anything in the world, it’s one of the best things you can do for your dynamic. The key to good communication is listening keenly and actively to what your partner says. Some people are very articulate – they can clearly explain their viewpoint but they are poor listeners.
This is a clear hurdle to a happy relationship because the partner who is not being heard will not feel understood or valued. Listening shows that you care for your partner. If your partner is in pain, listening will help him or her feel better and get closer to you. Once you establish clear, effective, open and honest lines of communication between each other, all the complementary qualities in a relationship are taken care of.
Emotional and physical intimacy are the very cornerstones of a couple’s relationship. It keeps the spark going. Showing affection verbally and physically on a regular basis does for your relationship what recharging the battery does for your phone. For intimacy to develop, you have to understand your partner’s love language – does he/she respond to loving words, help with the household chores, a hug, and kiss, or a surprise gift?
Once you know what brings the love-light in the eyes of your partner, you need to do those things more often. Intimacy can be one of the most important intangible qualities in a relationship. Only when you feel truly connected to your partner will you be able to establish all the complementary qualities in a relationship.
As Leo Buscaglia, American author and motivational speaker (also known as “Dr. Love”) has put it, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of showing affection, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
The ability to empathize with your partner is a subtle but key relationship quality. Empathy is all about being able to put yourself in your partner’s situation and frame of mind. It is a great way to understand his or her perspective. Empathy is a relationship quality that brings with it thoughtfulness and understanding.
Despite a turbulent marriage, what kept Rachel and Tom together was Tom’s empathetic attitude to his spouse. Whenever she vented, he would try to put himself in her shoes and see the situation from her viewpoint. This not only enabled him to keep his cool but also made Rachel calm down and feel understood. She valued this quality in Tom deeply, which strengthened their relationship.
Though it may seem impossible to walk a mile in your partner’s shoes when things aren’t going too well, that’s precisely when empathy is most needed. One of the most important qualities of a good relationship partner is someone who is capable of acknowledging where you’re coming from, and what you mean when you say the things you do. Of all the qualities needed in a relationship, empathy is one that’s often overlooked.
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Without honesty, no relationship can last. When partners are honest with each other, a bond of trust develops. When one partner commits physical or emotional infidelity, it is difficult for the relationship to overcome the breach of trust and survive. Trust and commitment are closely linked. Commitment begets trust and vice versa.
Staying committed is not easy, but it is a relationship quality that is essential for happiness. It’s not just being committed to your partner that matters, you have to be committed to the relationship. The good qualities in a relationship examples can be as simple as trusting your partner when they’re out on business trips, and not doubting their intentions when they ask for a little personal space.
Related Reading: Top 9 Tips To Build Trust In Relationships
This is one of the ideal relationship qualities, which is vital in modern marriages. Partners should consider and treat each other as equals. There should be no unhealthy power dynamics with one partner dominating the other. Equality enables partners to have fewer disagreements on money matters and sharing of household chores.
In fact, a survey found that sharing household chores ranked third in importance on a list of nine items associated with successful marriages. Incidentally, the first was faithfulness, and the second, a happy sexual relationship. A lack of reciprocity is right up there on the list of bad qualities in a relationship. To make your partner feel respected, you must make sure you’re pulling your own weight in all circumstances.
One of the best relationship qualities is independence. Of course, it’s important for partners to strike a balance between independence and interdependence in a relationship. But a basic level of personal space is necessary. Codependent relationships are unhealthy. A high level of emotional dependence on your partner is the recipe for unhappiness.
The other aspect of independence is the freedom to have your own views, make your own decisions, and most of all, the freedom to be yourself. This is a relationship quality that cannot be compromised. Living in each other’s pockets will only cause relationship fatigue. Both partners should pursue their own interests apart from shared interests. Modern couple relationships require each partner to be self-fulfilled and independent.
Often, people assume that seeking personal space in your relationship is one of the bad qualities in a relationship, but the presence of personal space signifies that you’re holding on to your individuality, which makes you unique. The more there is for your partner to learn about you, the better it’s going to be for your dynamic.
Among the good relationship qualities, consistency is underrated. Consistency of moods and deeds in the good times as well as when the going gets tough is vital for a stable relationship. A volatile partner is very difficult to handle. Constant moodiness can spell the death knell of an otherwise healthy relationship.
Allied to consistency, is a sense of responsibility that keeps the relationship grounded. Here, each partner fulfills the responsibilities assigned to them. If you’re looking for good qualities in a relationship examples, here’s one: John and Marcy had been married for a decade and a half. The humdrum of life has set in, their relationship feels like a well-oiled machine, and there isn’t much excitement.
Nonetheless, they still manage to find love for each other and express it with the help of cute ways of showing affection. Simple instances of consistently showing your partner how much they mean to you is one of the most important qualities in a relationship. It’s one of the basic essentials of a relationship.
It is necessary for both partners and the relationship to be continuously growing. Each partner should be willing to learn from mistakes and evolve. This is a two-way process. Author and poet Catherine Pulsifer puts it succinctly, “Relationships, marriages are ruined where one person continues to learn, develop and grow and the other person stands still.”
In their marriage, Steven sought self-help in any form he could – reading books, listening to podcasts and practicing mindfulness. He was growing as a person. But in the marriage, he was drifting apart from his spouse Rebecca as she still clung to her immaturity and frustrations. As a result, the emotional disconnect between them widened.
If you’re ever trying to judge the strength of a relationship, it’s important to do so based on how much it facilitates the personal growth of each individual in it. As one of the most important qualities to look for in a relationship, it often highlights the longevity of a bond.
Related Reading: 20 Questions To Ask Your Partner To Build Emotional Intimacy
Dr. Nimisha explains what qualities are needed in a relationship and what she feels about them. “In my experience, the most important relationship quality is emotional engagement between partners. It becomes the wagon to reach all the other qualities like empathy, trust and emotional intimacy.
“When it is missing, the relationship becomes hollow – it appears that each partner’s presence in the other’s life becomes just a habit or a social requisite. For this quality in a relationship to take place, one or both partners have to recognize and respond to ‘bids’ from each other. A bid is an attempt from one partner to another for attention, affirmation, affection, or any other positive connection.
“Bids show up in simple ways, a smile or a wink, and more complex ways, like a request for advice or help. Some of them are intentional appreciation, finding opportunities for agreement, making jokes, making kind gestures, turning toward your partner, and validating your partner’s perspective.”
Love isn’t the only thing that makes the world go round when it comes to relationships. Love has to be bolstered with many other qualities. That’s what makes a good relationship. That’s what helps build a bond between a couple that will last in the long term even through trying times.