Think of life as the night sky. The silvery moon is your relationship, and the stars twinkling around it are the qualities of a good relationship that make life bliss. The moon would look quite incomplete without the stars, and so will your relationship if it is lacking in the 15 qualities elaborated below.
So many readers write to Bonobology asking for a mini-guide to the beautiful aspects of a romantic relationship. Everyone loves a perspective that focuses on the positive. Well, here we have it. You can look at these qualities as enhancers of love. Does your relationship check these boxes? If not, don’t worry. We’re also going to tell you how you can cultivate them.
By we, I mean myself and the expert onboard today – counselor Manjari Saboo (Masters in Applied Psychology and Post-Graduate Diploma in Family Therapy and Child Care Counseling), founder of Maitree Counselling, an initiative dedicated to the emotional well-being of families and children.
Manjari is here with a few pointed observations and insightful comments on the stars that shine bright in our life – the qualities of a good relationship partner that make life bliss.
What Is A Good Relationship Supposed To Be Like?
In one word – happy. A good relationship is supposed to make you feel secure, happy, and content. But of course, this is not always possible. Each relationship goes through its rainy days (and storms) but a strong and healthy relationship makes you happy the majority of the time.
Allow me to put it this way: a good relationship makes a tree out of you. It roots you to the ground and lets you grow upwards. There is no set formula to build a relationship that will make you a good tree. There are billions of people, billions of kinds of love, and billions of varieties of bonds. But what we can do is give you a general direction that seems to work for most people out there.
This general direction doesn’t demand much of you. It only asks you to become a more compassionate individual. You see, healthy individuals make for healthy relationships. Some self-improvement and introspection should set you on the right track. The 15 characteristics of a good relationship listed here are your compass.
It’s my hope that you’ll find a few key takeaways that resonate with you. These will help you find an answer to what defines a good relationship (because we all must make our definitions ourselves). Here we begin with the qualities of a good relationship, aka, the signs of a long-lasting relationship.
Related Reading: Love Maps: How It Helps To Build A Strong Relationship
15 Qualities Of A Good Relationship That Make Life Bliss
The very first thing Manjari explains is that there’s no formula. One plus one is two and hydrogen and oxygen make water, but no ingredients can come together to always make a good relationship. She says, “If you’re looking for a fix that will guarantee happiness and love, you’re headed for disappointment. If you want a good relationship, you have to put in the work.”
That being said, there are a few qualities that can help you understand what makes a good relationship last. Then you can improvise and implement them in your own style! Let’s take a look at these lovely qualities of good relationship partners, and answer the question – what is a good relationship supposed to be like?
1. The two Cs – Care and compromise
“A hallmark of healthy relationships is couples expressing their love through concern,” says Manjari. “They don’t feel obligated to do this. This concern comes from a place of love, not duty or commitment.”
Everyday questions like ‘did you have lunch?’ or ‘how was your day?’ are seemingly unimportant, but actually immense in value. Partners who are worried for their significant others’ well-being are showcasing signs of a strong connect driven by the need to protect their loved one.
Similarly, compromising on what you actually want for the happiness of your girlfriend or boyfriend is a good indicator of unconditional love. No relationship can sustain itself without compromises. What makes life bliss is our willingness to make little sacrifices for those we love. These sacrifices are signs your relationship will last forever.
2. A healthy sense of humor is a quality of a good relationship
Agnes Repplier wrote, “We cannot really love anyone with whom we never laugh.” I couldn’t agree more with this. A good sense of humor accomplishes two things: a) it makes the rough patches of life bearable, and b) it enhances the connection between you and your partner. A funny bone between two people is one of the early signs of a good relationship.
Laughing together is a brilliant exercise that couples should do more often. Take Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds for instance. The leg-pulling, teasing, and general merriment is stellar to observe. Humor cultivates a spirit of sportsmanship in couples. It also builds a sense of camaraderie and friendship which are vital for the success of a relationship.
Related Reading: Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships – 10 Characteristics
3. The two-way street of trust
Around a zillion websites talk about how important trust is, and I know you’re tired of hearing it. But trust is really what defines a good relationship. Love is liberating in nature because it places faith in people. We feel empowered to do things because of the trust our partners place in us.
Manjari explains how trust can make life simpler. “Stalking your girlfriend or boyfriend, second-guessing everything they say, and ‘keeping an eye’ on them is just too exhausting and (unnecessarily) dramatic. There are practices to build trust that will do wonders for your relationship. It’s good to trust and be trusted; makes you feel secure.”
4. What defines a good relationship? A lot of respect
Anger or disagreements are no excuse for disrespect. And one of the most essential qualities of a good relationship is respecting your partner for the individual they are. People in healthy relationships never shame their better half or make them feel like they aren’t enough.
An extension of this is respecting their boundaries and personal space. It is the knowledge that your partner’s needs might not always align with you, and that this is okay. Phoebe Buffay might seem kooky in her decisions, but Mike Hannigan never passes a condescending remark. His parents may disapprove of her manners, but he stands up to them for her.
5. Undivided attention
One of the best ways to understand this is by thinking over the example Manjari gives; “When a couple makes an active effort to remain invested in each other’s life, they grow closer because they’re involved. They share what happens each day, and look forward to being with each other. When you don’t really know what’s going on with them, their presence or absence doesn’t matter as much in the long run.”
The key to being involved is lending your partner an attentive ear. As Paul Tillich wrote, “The first duty of love is to listen.” A good relationship is one where you get off Instagram and listen to your partner talk.
Related Reading: Relationship Advice For Couples- 25 Ways To Strengthen Your Bond
6. Intimacy and affection are qualities of a good relationship
Now there are different kinds of intimacy and varied ways of showing affection. Any and all of them are characteristics of a good relationship. Each couple has its own love language. Some are more reserved; others are more touchy-feely. But what matters is expressing their love outwardly in one form or another.
The sexual compatibility in a good relationship is on point, and there are healthy boundaries concerning consent. A ‘no’ to sex is not taken personally (or aggressively) and all fetishes are explored through mutual agreement. Leading an active sex life, and dating someone who is physically affectionate is sheer joy!
7. Empathy for your partner
The super cliché quote that ‘kindness is free’ applies to relationships too. Empathy and compassion should extend to your partner as well. What defines a good relationship is being understanding not only toward needs and wishes but also toward mistakes and flaws. Healthy individuals always acknowledge the imperfectness of their partners. These are all signs of a long-lasting relationship.
A partner who has the ability to put themselves in your shoes is a blessing. They never hold petty grudges and are forgiving in nature. Strong relationships are characterized by the absence of gaslighting and manipulation. There are no guilt trips or blackmailing because your partner is above all of that.
8. Foundations of friendship are characteristics of a good relationship
Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago, David Rose and Patrick Brewer, or more simply Harry and Sally. All of these are examples of friendships that blossomed into relationships. I believe that a couple that has a solid base of friendship has more of an understanding. Before they get sweet for each other, they have a sort of objective view of their partner.
Manjari agrees and says, “Friendship is so wonderful to see. Love might occasionally fail to rise to the occasion but friendship rarely does.” What makes a good relationship last is being a pal to your sweetheart.
9. Commitment to the future
I can visualize some of you nervously laughing at the word ‘commitment.’ No one is asking you to say ‘I do’, please relax. All we’re saying is that a healthy relationship is usually headed toward something long-term. Both individuals see each other in their future plans. They may not have a definite picture, but the rough sketch includes the relationship.
This makes life beautiful because, amidst all these uncertainties, you have a constant relationship. This certainty is a source of comfort. The purpose of visualizing a future together is to generate a sense of belongingness. For me, this is what defines a good relationship.
10. Meaningful communication
Besides everyday sharing, one of the qualities of a good relationship partner is their skill of meaningful communication. This allows for a sense of comfort in sharing thoughts and emotions freely with one’s partner. There is no bottling up of resentment or suppressed anger. Even the fights are resolved maturely.
Manjari notes an important feature, “When couples in healthy relationships fight, their mood changes. The atmosphere reflects the sentiments expressed. But in an unhealthy bond, couples follow ‘out of sight, out of mind’ principle. The former indicates that the communication has gotten through to the people involved; that they hear each other and care deeply.”
Related Reading: 30 Beautiful Things To Do With Your Boyfriend At Home
11. Being appreciative is one of the early signs of a good relationship
Expressing gratitude, and giving compliments are important features of a successful relationship. We all love the pat on our backs that drives us forward. Partners that motivate each other are sweet to observe. They notice and express thanks for the gestures the other makes. Be it cheerleading or a few words of encouragement, appreciation goes a long way.
Adding on to this, Manjari explains, “No one can thrive under constant criticism. Since healthy relationships have a lot of appreciation involved, people flourish in them. They become the best version of themselves as they grow closer to their partners.”
12. Honesty in dealings is what defines a good relationship
This one is quite on the nose, and everyone knows how transparency is one of the best characteristics of a good relationship. But it bears repeating because there are many layers to honesty. You have honesty in being yourself and conduct yourself in the relationship without pretenses. Then there’s literal honesty of not lying to each other. And finally, you have honesty in speaking your mind.
All three are crucial, and all three make life beautiful. Being truthful is a mark of respect for our partners. It is the path to avoiding insecurities in your relationship. It is also a sign of integrity and conscientiousness. Because people would always rather be angry at the truth, rather than angry at the liar…
13. Fidelity (emotional and sexual)
It goes without saying that cheating on your partner is a gigantic NO. Being cheated on has lasting consequences, and a strong and healthy relationship does not see cases of infidelity, be it emotional or physical. Yes, emotional cheating is a real thing. And it is just as bad. What is a good relationship supposed to be like, you ask?
Driven by trust and honesty, loyalty is among the gold standard of qualities of a good relationship. Even if someone makes romantic overtures toward an individual who is in a secure and good relationship, they will firmly turn them down. Neither partner worries about being betrayed because they are very safe in their connection. Loyalty and commitment are signs your relationship will last forever.
Related Reading: 8 Differences Between Dating And Being In A Relationship
14. Independence of partners
Ah, individuality and independence are characteristics of a good relationship. When each person leads their own life outside the relationship, they don’t suffocate each other. One’s own set of friends, hobbies, aspirations, and activities keep them occupied. This means that the partners are not clingy or too involved with each other. Maintaining their separate lives is one of the early signs of a good relationship.
Putting it more explicitly, Manjari says, “It’s so wonderful to have your own life outside your romantic relationship. You can come home to your partner every day, but on the days they are absent, you don’t feel lost. Your identity isn’t tethered to them.”
15. Consistency in love is what makes a good relationship last
Strong relationships don’t see wild on-again-off-again phases. Fights? Yes. Conflicts? Yes. Hundreds of breakups and melodrama? No. A good relationship is fairly consistent in its trajectory. The partners have decided to stick together and that is exactly what they do.
It’s great to see two people who are clearly sorted in their heads. They view arguments as a part of the relationship and take them head-on. Their feelings are unchanged and don’t oscillate between passionate lust and vengeful hate. Consistency is key, and one of the signs your relationship will last forever.
What a remarkable list, right? Did you see these qualities in your own relationship? Well, I hope you did, and I hope you always do. These stars of our lives will shine brightly as long as you keep making mindful efforts. Our heartiest wishes to you on your journey to develop a good relationship!