(650) 965-7332 dr.nwesson@sbcglobal.net

What Do Healthy Relationships Look Like?

Here are 15 traits of a healthy relationship:


  1. Partners can manage conflict and differences without despair or threats.
  2. Both partners protect and nourish the relationship and make it a priority (not addicted to work for example).Both partners know how to be responsible for own needs and also for the care of the relationship.
  3. Both partners feel “special” to the other. Arguments or fights do not lead to abuse or threatened break-ups.
  4. Both partners can communicate wants, needs, feelings, and emotional issues with little or no shame.
  5. There is unconditional love if not unconditional agreement.
  6. The relationship feels and is nurturing, comfortable, and fun.
  7. Both partners attend to the needs of each other willingly and lovingly.
  8. The sexual relationship works well and is mutually satisfying.
  9. Both partners can and do keep agreements (maturity).
  10. Both partners are honest.
  11. There is no abuse: physical, verbal, emotional (ignoring).
  12. Both partners have boundaries:
  • Each person can say “no” to requests from partner when necessary without feeling guilty and tell their partner when something feels not right or hurts them.
  • People pleasing is kept to a minimum and neither one feels they are making a “great sacrifice” to stay in the relationship. Each person is able to do their work, attend to their children, care for other aspects of their life without threatening the relationship.
  • Partners can hear feedback from each other that they may be projecting old relationship fears or issues onto the current relationship.

There is commitment: exits are blocked in the relationship.

Understanding Emotional Intimacy

Sharing thoughts, feelings and needs is the best way to become emotionally close to someone.

Asking questions casually while you spend time together is the best way to get to know someone, but do not disclose a lot at a time especially in the beginning.

Here are some helpful ideas:

  • Use “I” statements: I feel sad that I won’t be seeing you until next month instead of.. It’s hard for one to wait a month to see someone they are interested in… . I am happy that you came… vs. You know it’s nice when others show up when they are expected… .
  • Do not evade questions about yourself or joke about it or change the subject to something less personal.
    • What are you doing…writing my biography?
    • Is this psychotherapy 101?

Being friends first is more than a cliche — enjoying someone’s company and becoming relaxed around someone are very important aspects of intimacy.

  • Don’t disclose prematurely — sometimes women do this. Don’t make “confessions” about your job, your ex-wife, your kids etc.
  • “First strive to understand, then to be understood” – Stephen Covey
  • Avoid criticism whenever possible/offer support first and suggestions later if requested: avoid advice unless it is asked for.
    • Support: That must be awfully hard to do… .
    • Advice: Have you ever thought of redoing the plumbing in your house. I know someone who does that type of work.