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Building healthy relationships

3-minute read

Healthy relationships with your partner and family members can enhance your life and make everyone feel good about themselves. They don’t just happen though; healthy relationships take time to build and need work to keep them healthy. The more positive effort you put into a relationship, the healthier it should be.

Signs of a healthy relationship

People in healthy relationships love and support each other. They help each other practically as well as emotionally. They are there for each other in the good times and the bad times.

Healthy relationships are commonly based on:

  • respect
  • trust
  • open communication
  • equality
  • both shared and individual interests
  • understanding
  • honesty
  • care.

Benefits of healthy relationships

People who have healthy relationships are more likely to feel happier and satisfied with their lives. They are less likely to have physical and mental health problems.

Healthy relationships can:

  • increase your sense of worth and belonging
  • give you confidence
  • support you to try out new things and learn more about yourself.

Communication in a healthy relationship

People who are in a healthy relationship talk to each other regularly and listen to each other too.

Misunderstandings can happen, and that can lead to people being upset, hurt or confused.

It is best to be clear about what you want to say. Making a real effort to understand what the other person is saying also helps.

Just because you love each other doesn’t mean you will be able to communicate well or know what the other is thinking.

To encourage more open communication in your relationship:

  • set aside time to speak to each other, without interruptions
  • put yourself in the other person’s shoes
  • don’t rely on the other person to guess what is going on, or how you are feeling
  • listen to each other, and make sure the other person knows you are listening to them
  • let the other person finish what they are saying
  • talk about things honestly and respectfully
  • try not to be too defensive
  • stay calm and try not to attack.

Other ways to nurture your relationship

There are other things you can do to improve your relationship with your partner or family. You can:

  • say sorry when you are wrong
  • be affectionate and show appreciation
  • make the relationship a priority
  • develop shared interests
  • work on feeling good about yourself
  • try to find solutions that help both of you
  • make plans for the future.

Having relationship issues?

It is normal to have ups and downs in a relationship. It is also normal to have different opinions. Relationships, and people, change over time.

Your relationship is not healthy if one person has more power than another, or if that person is abusive or violent.

When a relationship ends

The end of a relationship can be a very painful time. It may take 2 or 3 years for people whose long-term relationship has ended to recover and to put their lives together again. Some people develop serious health and emotional problems during this time.

Where to get help

If you would like to talk to someone, here are some organisations that can help:

  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) – call 13 11 14 or chat online.
  • MensLine Australia (online counselling and forum for men) – call 1300 78 99 78.
  • Relationships Australia provides support groups and relationship counselling, including for people in an abusive relationship - call 1300 364 277.

Last reviewed: August 2017

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