How to Have a Healthy Relationship post image

How to Have a Healthy Relationship

Here’s a situation I’ve definitely found myself in and I’m sure you can relate. You meet someone, something clicks, and suddenly a force takes you over.

After this encounter you can’t–for the life of you–get this guy out of your head. You try to think about other things, but nothing works. You ruminate over every detail of your interaction with him–what he said, what you said, what his body language said. You think about the things you wish you had said.

You check your phone constantly to see if he called or texted. If he does, your stomach drops, your heart races, you want to leap off your seat and scream for joy. And then of course you need to figure out the exact right thing to say back to him, the perfect  quip to show him that you’re perfect for each other.

The high continues as you venture into a relationship and becomes even more intense. You never quite know where you stand with him. The uncertainty keeps you on your toes, constantly on alert for something that looks like a bad sign or ominous foreshadow. This emotional roller coaster is as exhausting as it is thrilling. You’re hooked. The worst possible thing that could happen is him leaving. It’s a fear you can’t quite shake no matter how promising the situation looks, a fear that drives everything you say and do.

Now another scenario.

You meet a guy, you think he’s nice and all, you have good conversation, he gets your number, and while you’re pleased, you don’t go into a tizzy over it. You may check his Facebook profile, but only for a few minutes. You are happy to hear from him if he calls or texts, but you don’t notice the hours that pass in between your interactions. You go out a few times, not expecting much, but soon enough your interest and attraction begins to grow. Things feel calm, there’s no drama, no heart palpitations….and it feels really nice.

Which relationship do you think has a stronger chance of survival?

Instinctively, you would say the second one. In real life, you would fall for the first. That’s because the first scenario illustrates everything we’ve ever been told about love.

In movies and romance novels, love is this grand, all-consuming force that takes you over in the most dramatic of ways. There are huge obstacles to overcome, but it’s okay because love conquers all! I mean, would any of us have cared for “The Notebook” if Ali and Noah were of the same social status, went on a few lukewarm dates, then got to know each other and developed a deepening connection over time? Don’t think so.

Unhealthy Relationships Start With a Pull

I hate to do this to you, but I’m gonna take the romance right out of those dramatic relationships where you get engulfed in your feelings for the other person. In most cases, the pull we feel to another person is guided by our unconscious desire to rectify some issue from our past.

For instance, if your parents always made you feel like you weren’t good enough, you may seek out guys who are full of themselves and treat you like you’re not worthy of their love in an attempt to rectify those feelings from your past.

If your father was very critical, you may find yourself drawn to a man who is very critical and try to win over his love and approval to heal from the hurt of your fathers rejection. These decisions aren’t conscious, they happen very deep beneath the surface in areas we can’t access. When we meet someone, we immediately assess everything about them (again, this happens unconsciously).

On a conscious level, you may assess the things he said, on an unconscious level, you’re looking at his body language, his tone, the way he phrases things, how much eye contact he makes, his demeanor. If your unconscious finds something familiar in that person, something that reminds you of an unresolved hurt from the past, it will light up and push you towards that person. (A great book to learn more on this concept is “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix. I would even call it a must-read.)

You may also unconsciously seek out partners who have some quality that is under-developed in you. For example, if you’re a Type A workaholic and always wished you could ease up, you may be drawn to a laid back partner who isn’t detail-oriented. These example might not describe your situation, but they illustrate a deeper point.

Unhealthy relationships almost always begin with the pull. The problem is, we don’t recognize them as unhealthy because we’re brought up to believe in things like love at first site.

Moving away from the psychological factors at work here, infatuation in general can be a dangerous thing. It causes you to put him on a pedestal and overlook his flaws.  Since he’s so “perfect” you become afraid to be yourself–I mean, how could your true self ever compete with perfection?

MORE: Infatuation…the Silent Relationship Killer

You don’t want to say the wrong thing and scare him off, so you aren’t genuine in your interactions. You rely on his approval so desperately that you also become a bit needy. You may not act needy, but it’s something that lurks beneath the surface and he will pick up on it… they always do.

Healthy Relationships Build Slowly
Healthy relationships, on the other hand, begin with mutual interest and attraction that grows over time. If you can internalize this, it will change the way you date forever.

The best way to have a healthy relationship is to go slow. This will create an environment for you to allow your level of interest and attraction to grow steadily over time, rather than flooding you all at once in a big emotional tsunami.  It’s difficult to remain objective in relationships, especially for women  since we  are naturally more emotional.

If you spend all your time with him, you risk overlooking very critical information about who he really is and if this relationship is built to last. Just because people feel strongly for each other doesn’t always mean they can be together.

MORE: The Most Important Relationship Advice You Will Ever Receive

It is imperative to have a foundation of compatibility, shared goals and interests, and common values. Some things simply can’t be negotiated. Before you emotionally invest, it is very wise to determine if you are fundamentally compatible. And the best way to do this is go slow.

When you first meet someone, you want to spend every minute of every day with them. You talk for hours and hours on the phone, text all day, and you can’t get enough. The obvious reason this is problematic is because you may end up relying too heavily on the relationship for your  happiness, but also, you don’t get a break from the emotional excitement and stimulation of it all. Then, if you realize this guy may not be right for you, you’ll be in too deep to get yourself out of the situation. You’ll instead rely on some cliche like “love conquers all” to justify staying with him.

The Solution
I am not saying to stay away from guys you feel a strong immediate attraction to and only date guys who you’re only “meh” about. I think you should date both kinds of guy- the infatuation guy could turn out to be a loser and the “meh” guy could turn out to be the love of your life (I’ve seen it happen countless times!).

Either way you have to date smart. This will come more naturally with “meh” than it will with the object of your infatuation.

If you just met or just started seeing someone, I strongly advise that you try to go on one to two dates a week and that’s it. Also try to keep your phone conversations somewhat short, maybe an hour and a half max. This will give you the chance to get to know the other person while also giving you the space to decide if he is the right match for you.

So many girls make the mistake of getting caught up in how the guy feels about them rather than focusing on how they feel about him.

You can avoid falling into this trap by doing regular reality checks. Make sure you see him and the situation clearly. The best way to do this is to make sure you can recognize his flaws.  The way you know you’re infatuated is if you see no flaws. Everyone has flaws.

When you get in over your head, you may convince yourself that something like him wanting to live in the country and you wanting to only live in a city is not such a big deal. Someone who maintains a more objective perspective will realize she would be miserable living in the country and since this guy wouldn’t live anywhere else, she would get out of the situation.

I’ve seen (and personally experienced) many situations where a couple breaks up after a long period of time because of some issue that was apparent right from the beginning- they’re different religions, want to live in different states, one person doesn’t want kids. In every one of these situations, the couple believed that things would magically just work out. Imagine how much time, effort, and heartbreak they would have saved had they been dating with their head instead of their heart from the beginning.

Again, the only way you’ll be able to see him clearly is if you can give yourself the space to clear through the clutter of emotions and keep a firm level of objectivity in the beginning.

Got a question or piece of advice? Tell us about it in comments!

10 comments… add one

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The articles here are so very true and inspiring. I have one question that I would like advice on. My ex husband of 8 years and my current boyfriend of a year and a half both said the same thing about me. That I will never be happy. Pretty scary they both think that. I’m not sure how they could think that as I’m a very loving, appreciative, caring woman. Anyone with this experience have any advice?

Reply January 3, 2015, 1:36 pm


Okay, I completely make sense of this article. Good, thorough and easy to follow. Do this advice work as well when it comes to friendships with guys?
I just got out of a friendship with a guy who I felt just wanted too much out of me. We were friends for four years. I realized something changed in him after losing another close friend that stopped being friends with him. I just felt this tug at me that was telling me to get away. I just stayed thinking to myself, ‘I can be a good friend that helps him get through this hurt.’ Then I’ve been here supporting and encouraging him, when he starts getting on me for not expressing my thanks when I would…
:( Did I do something wrong? Now, I’ve moved forward with myself and just don’t want to go back and be friends with him.

Reply November 28, 2014, 4:54 pm


Hiya i could do with some advise pls i have just came out of marriage 12mnths ago i started talking to an old friend from school almost straight away and he also is going through a very bad time with his ex who is not letting him see his daughter so sometimes hes so closed off emotional but over the past 6months we have been havin casual sex i really like this guy but hes saying hes just nit feeling that spark but doesn’t want to lose me as a friend i feel a bit gutted as i really like him and hoped that when he was more settled and in a better place because right now hes going through the courts to get excess to see his daughter I thought we could of tried the relationship road and get to know each other better but because hes saying hes not feeling the spark right now but he does say i would of been perfect for him with how i am and how i am we have stopped the casual sex now I’m so confused right now as i like him a lot do i continue being his friend and continue to help and support him throught this bad time hoping that once hes in a better place he may start to feel different and relax hoping he will change his mad and develop feeling for me or am i just wasting my time. Any suggestions pls xx

Reply October 2, 2014, 1:38 pm

Diane Nelson

Wow, thanks for putting things into perspective. I so wish I would have had your tools in hand before I pushed my boyfriend (infatuation) right out the door. I’ll be better prepared for the next relationship. Which will happen as soon as I emotionally realize that HE isn’t running back realizing he has made a huge mistake and sees how great we really were, ha. Yes you are right about the “pull” he brought some unresolved childhood issues to the surface, which I have since worked on. I realize he was the “lesson” & not “the one” still convincing the heart :)

Reply June 18, 2014, 4:49 am


My guy I met online back in Sept 2013 I am 48 and is 42 both of us are divorced, I have an adult son and he has no children, I happened to share my gf’s newborn that I was so excited about and he came back with “cute, don’t get any ideas about having any kids because I don’t want any” not that I am really wanting anymore but I would never say no to possibly adopting, anyways on his profile he said he was open to the possibilities, now we have made it to 6 months of dating and he has made the “I’m his girlfriend statement”, how do I approach the subject of making sure that he really truly does not want any kids? It’s the whole get invested and then BAM fear of getting hit with oh oops I do want kids, cya you can’t have any kinda situation.

Reply February 18, 2014, 3:04 pm


Oops wrong key. How long I can wait until he gets his act together. Or only real way to spend time is the game but I can’t handle how he gets any more, so our relationship is basically dead. I can only think he has an esteem issue. He doesnt talk which is that more frustrating. And if he does respond it’s one work syllables. In fact he spends all his time gaming with his nephew.

Reply February 10, 2014, 12:12 am


It’s been almost three years since we met via play station chat home. He’s not what I would have been attracted to in the past, but there was something there like we’ve known each other from day one. This is a long distance relationship which makes it especially hard we’ve met twice and get on wonderful. bUt as time is passing I’m wondering if he’s become complacent. We play some on line games to spend time with each other. He is so into the game and I don’t care for them but I do it to spend time. He is like a jeckly n Hyde in the game. I’ve told home many times that we are going to break up over this because we would fight. He doesn’t see it I don’t know how to get through to him. We exchanged words and he did it again and I said I’m through and he is what ever. I’ve asked him on more than one occasion when are we getting together. He keeps saying I don’t mknow and when I press he keeps saying I dont know, and I ask what does he know? Does he even want to be together which he says of course. My thing is I do not know any more if my love is strong enogh

Reply February 10, 2014, 12:08 am

Andrea Samayoa

I like this article very much so thank you for putting it out there with the words you used and how you used them. I caught myself relating to every scenario that you presented and then I start thinking at the same time as I am reading along like , ” Damn, I should have or could have done this differently blah blah..”. Articles like this keep me on my toes in the dating game, even though I wish I could have read something like this a year ago Im most definitely going to use the advice given. Once again thanks and keep them coming.

Reply July 22, 2013, 12:38 am


Reading this I felt someone was reading my mind, it’s amazing! I recently met a man with whom I shared a strong mutual attraction but I often felt uneasy because he was giving mixed signals. The attraction level made it hard to take it as slow as I wanted to so that is a learning lesson. I hadn’t asked anything about where we were going etc. but I guess he knew where he was and told me he wasn’t ready for a relationship but wanted to see me, I declined if there was nowhere for it to go. Two weeks later he resurfaced and told me he liked me, cared about me, relationships scared him etc. then we were together and it felt very warm and caring. We had a date planned, he cancelled, he was out of town, I texted, he texted back and I replied but he hasn’t texted back nor asked me out (I deleted his number from my phone).

After sharing his feelings, vanishing felt hurtful and I feel it was cowardly as well, I would have preferred for him to tell me he didn’t want to see me anymore. I had a hard time dealing with the warmth of being with him to the vanishing without any explanation, the uncertainty of it was hurtful. I then reflected as to why in particular it was so hard to have him vanish without a word and realized that I felt this before. It was my father, my mom and dad split when I was young and he wasn’t in our lives but one Christmas resurfaced to our house and I stood at the door so happy and my mom said he was bringing presents. He didn’t show up, my mom said that he left the car and the gifts were stolen and he wasn’t coming to visit. One minute I was happily waiting for my dad and my gifts and then next he vanished, I was more disappointed to not see my dad of course.

This is the same feeling I got with this man, it was so hurtful because it was repeat of a painful difficult experience when as a young fragile girl. Even if I didn’t have this experience as a young girl I would still be hurt by this vanishing, at least I think I would, but maybe it wouldn’t hit such a tender spot for me. Thanks for the article, I realized the parallel last night after reading this in the daytime.

Reply July 16, 2013, 12:31 pm


Very informative. However, i have one question. Your article seems to focus on the initial stages of a relationship. How does this information apply to a relationship that seems to be getting serious e.g having been intimate and dating for 9 months.

Reply July 16, 2013, 4:24 am

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