We all say that we want healthy relationships — but I think what we really mean is that we all want easy relationships. Because let me tell you, healthy relationships are NOT all they’re cracked up to be. Healthy relationships are hard — but not in the ways that you may think.
It’s not about self-sacrifice or getting your partner to meet your needs. No, luckily those things are easy in healthy relationships. What’s hard about healthy relationships is having to look at yourself for who you’ve been in the past and how you are currently showing up in your relationship.
“Healthy” is subjective.
What I decide is a delicious and healthy relationship for myself may not be the same for you. But typically speaking, healthy relationships consist of open communication, mutual respect, common goals and values, honesty, love, passion, intimacy, trust, and fantastic sex (obviously).
Ask the average person what they would consider a healthy relationship and they will likely mention any of the above.
One of the most important ingredients in a healthy relationship pie, for me, was common goals and values. I am a self-development, human experience junkie. I want to get inside people’s minds and pull out every dark urge and shadow they’ve ever hidden from anyone
I want to know myself and my loved ones on every possible level. I’m built differently than most. So, I knew I wanted a partner with the same sort of values and a relationship that would facilitate my growth and healing.
Ask and ye shall receive, they say.
My healthiest relationship messed me up the most because I got what I wanted.
I wanted to get to know myself better so I got a partner who was a mirror. To be honest, every partner we have is a mirror if we’re willing to dig deep. I wanted to face my most profound fears so I found myself a partner who insisted on intimacy.
I wanted to become more acquainted with my darkest shadows so I found a partner who fully accepted every aspect of who I was, had been and will be. This all sounds fun — in theory — and I assure you for the masochists in the room, it is — but for most, it’s incredibly tough.
My relationship demanded that I be my best self. I had to flirt with my dirty edges at every encounter and face my fears with almost every communication.
My relationship demanded that wherever I saw blame in him, I had to look at myself first. Our projections and triggers became the topic of daily conversation.
“I am triggered when you don’t return my texts. And I know this isn’t about you. I know that this is my own rejection complex and abandonment issue. Now, what am I going to do about it?”
Recognizing my own self-sabotage patterns and triggers meant that I had to express them fully with him and take space and alone time to process, feel, deal, and heal.
It meant he would have to do the same thing when it was his turn. And of course, in the beginning, that space between us would trigger my rejection and abandonment wounds.
It would send my nervous system into a tailspin of invasive, intrusive, and self-deprecating thought patterns.
I also had to learn how to communicate when I was feeling unsafe.
In any other relationship, we would call all of these “red flags” but in a healthy, conscious loving relationship, we call this healing and relating. We were forced to practice patience and compassion, especially in the toughest moments.
All of these mature and healthy relationship characteristics really messed me up, emotionally, physically, and spiritually — but in the best way possible.
I was finally having to face and deal with wounds that I had never before seen.
Relationships truly are our best healers as well as the cleanest of mirrors — fully Windexed, all the damn time.
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What they don’t tell you about healthy relationships is that intimacy, open communication, healing, trust, and honesty are incredibly difficult when all most of us have ever known are toxic, co-dependent partnerships.
It’s like entering a twilight zone. You know it’s good for you and you’ll be better for it but holy moly it’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, and it requires regulating your nervous system to uplevel your life and partnerships in this way.
To deal with all of my own shadows and my healing while also supporting him, I’ve been doing a lot of nervous system regulation: Learning to feel safe in healthy patterns and learning to feel happy and secure in relating differently from the people around us.
It’s a whole new level of wild and crazy and beautiful and it’s personal. It looks different for everyone but take it from me, emotional maturity is the sexiest quality.
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Danna Yahav is an author, writer, and coach. You can find her on Instagram @this.is.Danna