Relationships at a Glance
- Relationships can provide us with great happiness, but they can also be challenging.
- Everyone deserves to feel happy in their relationships.
- We can all learn ways to make our relationships healthier.
We all want to be in a great relationship. Here are some things to think about when it comes to your relationship and some tips for making it great.
Worried? Had unprotected sex? We're here to help.
How Do I Make My Relationship Great?
No relationship is perfect all the time. In a healthy relationship, both people feel good about the relationship most of the time. There are many things we can do to build healthy relationships. Remember that in any relationship, both people must be willing to put in the effort. One person cannot build a great relationship alone.
Here are our top ten tips:
- Love yourself. You’ll be a happier partner. It is important that you are comfortable with yourself. Know your own strengths and be proud of them.
- Share your feelings and listen to your partner’s. If you are upset or concerned, talk about it. Working through difficult situations builds trust and helps make relationships even stronger. Also, remember to share when something your partner does makes you happy.
- Be honest and expect honesty. We need to be truthful with each other about what we do, think, and feel.
- If you want to know what is on your partner's mind — ask.Be ready to listen to what they have to say. Sometimes people assume they know what someone else is thinking or feeling.
- Spend time on your own and let your partner do the same. Sometimes people think a healthy relationship means spending all your time together. It is actually healthier for people to spend time with different people than with just one person. That way they can develop their own interests and talents and grow as individuals.
- It’s OK to have disagreements. Partners often have different desires, opinions, and ideas. They have the right to think differently. Partners need to respect each other’s unique points of view.
- Forgive and expect forgiveness. No one is perfect, and making mistakes is a normal part of life. If we apologize and are forgiven, we can move on.
- Help your partner feel good about her- or himself and expect the same in return. Partners need to acknowledge each other's efforts and accomplishments.
- Communicate openly and honestly about sex. This is the only way your partner will really know what is comfortable for you and what gives you pleasure. We should have each other's consent for sex every time, and we should never use pressure to get consent. We should share in the responsibility of guarding ourselves and our partners against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection.
- Take care of your sexual health. In a healthy relationship, both partners want to protect their sexual health. Getting checkups for STDs and practicing safer sex are important. Make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center to get birth control or STD tests.
A Quiz — Does Your Relationship Make You Happy?
Checking in with yourself on a regular basis to understand if you are truly happy in your relationship is a good first step. This quiz focuses on romantic and sexual relationships, but many of the ideas apply to other kinds of relationships. After you take this quiz, it could be helpful to try it again from your partner’s perspective.
- Does your partner listen to and respect your ideas?
- Does your partner give you space to spend time with friends and family?
- Do you enjoy spending time together?
- Do you feel comfortable telling your partner when something she or he is doing upsets you?
- Do you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings?
- Can you tell your partner what you like sexually?
- Does your partner make an effort to get along with your friends and family?
- Is your partner proud of your accomplishments and successes?
- Does your partner respect your differences?
- Can you talk to your partner about safer sex and/or birth control?
Relationships can be complicated, but if you answered “yes” to all of these questions, there’s a good chance your relationship makes you happy. If you answered “no” to two or more questions, you might be in an unhealthy relationship. If your relationship feels unhealthy, find out more.
How Can I Improve My Relationship?
If you feel that your relationship could use improvement, talk with your partner about it. When you talk, be clear about what your concerns are. Good communication is an important step in problem solving. There’s no quick fix to issues that come up in your relationship — that’s why both partners need to make an ongoing effort to relate to each other better.
You may want to consider getting help from someone outside your relationship. Sometimes talking with a counselor or therapist can help couples work through issues and improve their relationships.
Ending a Relationship
It is important that you feel safe when talking with your partner about your relationship. If you don’t feel safe, talk to a trusted friend, family member or an anonymous helpline like the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. You may also want to read more about unhealthy relationships.
Find Dr. Cullins' Answers to Common Sexual Health Questions
Q&A with Dr. Cullins