You and your partner have a fight.
You find yourself not needing to be around them 24-7. You don’t share all your secrets with each other. While these traits may sound like the onset of a failing relationship, they’re actually signs you’re in a healthy one — we promise.
Here, 9 signs of a healthy relationship, according to sex and relationships therapists.
1. You actually listen to each other, even if you disagree
Listening and being heard is a much more useful relationship skill than simply never arguing, Cyndi Darnell, a sex and relationship therapist, explains. “You cannot be in agreement with your partner on everything 100 percent of the time,” she says.
Instead of spending your energy trying to get on the exact same page about everything, focus on listening. “Fifty percent of successful communication is listening,” Darnell says. “If everyone is speaking and no one is listening, things go downhill fast.”
2. You’ve never threatened to leave each other
When you start threatening your partner with a breakup—even if you don’t follow through—your relationship can start to deteriorate, sex and relationships educator Bethany Ricciardi says.
“Every healthy relationship has a strong foundation, and with that, you do not threaten abandonment,” she explains. “Even if it’s an empty threat, words are very powerful; if you want a healthy relationship, you should only plant seeds of positivity.”
3. You make sacrifices for each other (and don’t count the favors)
Keeping score never ends well.
“Being someone’s partner means laughing for them when they aren’t able and picking them up when they can’t stand on their own,” Ricciardi says. “You start to perform selfless acts in a healthy relationship because caring for your partner has become a priority.”
If you genuinely want to do something to help your partner (which, to be clear, you should), there’s no reason to hold it over their head later.
4. You’re OK with spending time apart
“You recognize your partner is a complete person and always was—long before you came into their life,” Darnell says. Think of yourselves as complements, not vital organs, she adds. A little bit of fresh air can go a long way—and it certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with where you are.
5. You can tolerate — and work through — conflict
“It’s not about ‘never fighting,’ but about using common conflicts to learn about each other, compromise, and become closer,” Sara Stanizai, a licensed marriage, and family therapist and the owner of Prospect Therapy, explains. “Think about it: You learn more about your partner on your bad days than you do on your best behavior.”
Couples who work through disagreements often grow closer in the process. “Not being afraid to have healthy conflict is a sign of a close relationship,” Stanizai adds.
6. You both actually like being in a relationship
“If you catch yourself loving the relationship lifestyle and the partner you’re enjoying it with, chances are you’re in a healthy relationship,” says Ricciardi.
Pay attention to what you talk about with friends. Do you usually refer to your relationship in a positive light? That’s probably a good sign.
7. You don’t need to know all of each other’s secrets
“Any information that’s relevant and affects your partner directly ideally should be disclosed, but certain things that are personal may remain that way,” says Darnell.
8. You feel comfortable being vulnerable
People who can be themselves around their partners, flaws and all, often have a healthy connection. “Instead of trying to curate a ‘perfect’ image of themselves, which is not sustainable, they gradually let their true colors show,” Stanizai says, adding that those “true colors” can be embarrassing, unflattering, or otherwise “not ideal.”
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Accessing that more vulnerable side of yourself around your partner is likely a sign you feel genuinely comfortable around them.
9. You can rely on each other without being codependent
It’s great to be independent, and it’s also great to have a partner who has your back. “If you’re able to let them in—maybe to help with a problem outside the relationship, for example—it shows you can trust them,” Stanizai says.
But by the same token, being able to make decisions without first consulting your partner is usually a sign of healthy independence (rather than codependence), Stanizai adds. Striking a balance between the two is, obviously, the ultimate goal.
Ashley Papa is a writer, published author, and TV producer turned real estate agent.
This article was originally published at StyleCaster. Reprinted with permission from the author.