Many people invest themselves in finding love and consider it to be one of the most exhilarating parts of life. That said, romantic relationships aren’t always easy. There are a variety of trials and difficulties that can arise in romantic relationships, including arguments, disagreements, communication issues, trouble understanding one another, and even cheating. All couples have ups and downs. After all, when you’re in it for the long haul, you’re there for it all, and there are bound to be good days and bad days. You’re there to comfort your partner when they’re down, to work through any challenges that come your way as a couple, and to share beautiful memories and milestones together. From your first kiss to your wedding day, it’s normal to have questions about relationships. Whether you’re dealing with an ex, going through a breakup, trying to find the love of your life, questioning what someone really wants in a partnership, preparing for a wedding, or wondering if someone’s really into you, it’s okay if you don’t have all of the answers when it comes to relationships. The articles in this section cover a vast number of different topics connected to romantic relationships that can help you gain insight into what you’re going through. Remember that you deserve healthy, fulfilling romantic partnerships, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help from a counselor or therapist if you believe that you or your partnership could benefit from the support of a mental health professional.
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Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Relationships are an important part of our lives. Research suggests that social relationships have a significant impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing. Having connections with others aids stress reduction, makes us happier, and reduces the risk of physical health complications such as heart disease. Social connections even make you more likely to live longer. There are many different kinds of connections or relationships a person can have. However, when we hear the word "relationship," we generally think of romantic love. The relationship articles on ReGain.us are here to answer your questions about intimate relationships, whether those are the relationships of married couples, newly established couples, or those interested in finding romantic love.
Types of relationships
Every romantic relationship is unique. There are monogamous relationships, polyamorous relationships, and open relationships, to name a few. When it comes to intimate relationships, it's important that you're on the same page with anyone who's involved. That's part of why communication is so crucial when it comes to romantic love. Communication is essential for couples when it comes to conflict resolution, supporting one another, maintaining a healthy sex life, working through any relationship problems that might arise, and making collective life decisions as a couple, such as the choice to have a family or move to a new location. Couples of all kinds are welcome in relationship counseling. Relationships don't come with a handbook, and relationships don't look the same for everyone, so it's important to find a therapist or counselor that you connect with. Additionally, people in both long-term relationships and short-term relationships can seek counseling together. Counseling doesn't necessarily mean that something is awry. Instead, it's an indicator that you want the relationship to be healthy, loving, and stable.
How to build healthy relationships
Although every relationship is different, some components are always necessary when it comes to keeping our relationship healthy. Many of us desire lasting relationships of some kind or another. When we form and sustain a lasting relationship, we most certainly want to ensure that it has a stable dynamic that is positive for everyone involved. Healthy relationships will include the following:
- Mutual affection
In a healthy relationship, you'll be able to share your thoughts, concerns, and feelings with your partner. You won't be afraid of your partner, and you will be able to say what you think respectfully, even when you disagree. You will both have the conflict resolution skills needed to work things out effectively and come to a true compromise or decision when required. Quality time is another essential part of relationships, and it is not just reserved for those who are able to be together in person. Long-distance relationships come with unique challenges, but it is possible to have a healthy relationship when you are long-distance. In a long-distance relationship it's helpful to establish times where you will be able to call one another in advance. It's also beneficial for many people in long-distance relationships to use other tactics that make them feel closer to their partner, whether that means playing the same game from a distance or arranging a thoughtful gesture like ordering your partner food or a gift every now and then. No matter how close or far you are, it's vital that you set aside time for your partner.
Working through relationship problems
Every couple will encounter relationship problems at some point, whether they're big or small. The term "relationship problems" is so broad because it encompasses everything from small disagreements to more pervasive issues such as cheating or infidelity. Relationship problems don't mean that a relationship has failed, nor do they negate a meaningful relationship. Some of the common relationship problems couples face include frequent arguments, disagreements, emotional unavailability, intimacy issues or issues related to their sex life, the loss of the "spark" or passionate love in the partnership, and difficulty with communication. Counseling and help with all of these matters, and it can also help couples through life transitions. For example, many couples seek premarital counseling when they’re preparing to get married.
There are different types of couples therapists and counselors. If a couple is seeking help for their sex life specifically, they would likely benefit the most from seeing a sex therapist. A sex therapist is an expert in helping couples with their sex life. They can help romantic partners with topics related to their sex life that be seen as taboo in society and may go unspoken otherwise. Sex therapists help many couples rekindle their intimacy, and just like in any form of counseling or therapy, the provider promotes a safe space to talk. You don't have to be coupled to work with a sex therapist. Sex therapists are seen by married couples, individuals, and couples who are dating. Alternatively, if married couples struggle with maintaining passionate love in their relationship, they might see a marriage counselor or therapist who can help them to increase the affection and passionate love within a relationship. A couple's therapist will often give married couples in this position a variety of exercises to engage in that will help them to reestablish passionate love and connection both in and outside of therapy. They may also help them with communication or working through any underlying issues that impact the affection or passion within the relationship.
Married couples and dating couples are not the only people who seek help regarding relationships from a mental health professional. Just as an individual might see a counselor or therapist for concerns related to mental health conditions, stress, or grief, or life transitions, an individual therapist can also help people with dating relationships one on one. Additionally, seeing an individual therapist is helpful for people who struggle to build or maintain healthy relationships. People might struggle to constitute a healthy relationship for a variety of reasons, including insecure attachment, difficulty being vulnerable with others, trauma, emotional regulation, anger management, and so on. Say that you're someone who struggles with anger management. You may want to see a counselor to find skills and solutions that will help you manage anger so that you don't start a relationship without tools to identify anger and work through feelings of anger when they arise. Seeing a therapist one on one is helpful for those who wish to build a healthy relationship as well as those who want to work through any issues that may impact their current relationship or their ability to maintain relationships in the future. If you're already in a relationship and notice that something's impacting the partnership negatively or that something has the potential to impact a relationship negatively, it isn't too late to seek counseling. You can see a counselor at any point in your relationships and in life, whether the person you see is an individual counselor, a couples counselor, or both a relationship counselor and a couples counselor.
Whether you are single or in a long-term relationship, counseling is something you may benefit from if you struggle with relationships. Relationship counseling is a type of counseling designed for couples, whether they're married or unmarried. In relationship counseling, you and your partner see a counselor together, whereas in individual counseling, your sessions are usually one on one. People go to relationship counseling for many different reasons, whether it's to learn to support or better understand one another, work through issues related to cheating, trust, or other concerns that arise in a partnership, work through life transitions together, or something else. One of the best things about counseling is that it's your and your partner's time to focus on the partnership and talk about anything that's going on in your life. You can see a counselor in your local area, or you can speak to a mental health provider using an online therapy website like ReGain. Click here to get started with a licensed counselor at ReGain. You will be able to decide if you want to see a counselor individually or as a couple, and there’s also an option for those who aren’t sure what to pick yet. Online counseling is a convenient, affordable, and safe way to get the support that you need, so don’t be afraid to reach out.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the different types of relationships?
Although when we hear the word "relationship," we usually think about romantic relationships, there are many different kinds of relationships a person can have. There are familial relationships, friendships, business relationships, and romantic relationships, for example. Our lives are filled with many different relationships or bonds, whether they relate to our family life, love life, career, or social life.
What does 'relationship' mean?
The dictionary definition of the word relationship is "the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected or the state of being connected." Technically, there's a relationship between you and everyone you meet. You might have relationships with other people as a colleague, a friend, a neighbor, or an acquaintance. We also have relationships as they relate to different items, elements, or aspects of our lives. For example, when we talk about how we feel about ourselves, we might say, "I have a good relationship with myself," or when we talk about something we enjoy, such as spending time in nature, we might say, "I have a strong relationship with the outdoors." That said, the most frequently used meaning of the word "relationship" relates to romantic relationships. If you say that you're "in a relationship" with someone, that refers to romance.
What are the 5 most important things in a relationship?
Communication, affection, trust, love, and intimacy are five of the most important things in a relationship. Intimacy does not always relate to sexual desire or physical intimacy. There are many different ways that intimacy can present, including emotional intimacy, which should absolutely be present in any romantic relationship.
What is a healthy relationship?
A healthy romantic relationship will include the following components:
- Mutual support without codependency
- Appreciation for one another
- Effective communication
- Personal boundaries
Additionally, an essential marker of a healthy committed relationship is that both people will be able to be their own person. Your sense of independence and autonomy will not only be preserved, but it will be embraced.
Who loves more in a relationship man or woman?
A person's ability to love is not dependent on gender. Instead, who loves more will vary from relationship to relationship. There are many relationships where people love each other mutually and on a level that would be considered equal. In other relationships, one person, regardless of gender, may love their partner more than their partner loves them. It goes without saying that this can cause problems, but if it happens, your or your partner's gender is not to blame. As difficult and painful as it is, not every relationship works out, and you deserve to be with someone who loves you as much as you love them.
It's worth noting that sometimes, couples who love each other and want to stay together seem to lose the initial spark that exists in a relationship. The good news is that, for couples who experience this challenge, it is possible to increase the passion in a relationship. To increase affection in a romantic relationship, it's beneficial to set aside time for a date night or quality time, work on communication, and to increase outward displays of affection.
Examples of outward displays of affection for couples who want to bring the love back into a relationship include giving each other compliments, making a marked effort to say "I love you," physical acts of affection such as holding hands, rubbing the other person's arm, back massages, and kissing, and planning romantic nights, dates, or special couples events. Therapy is helpful for couples that struggle with affection or intimacy. In couples therapy, a mental health professional will often give couples who want to increase the love in their partnership assignments, guidance, communication skills, and other tactics that'll help them to feel that spark again and enhance the appreciation they feel for one another.
What is a real love relationship?
A real love relationship is one where the partners involved genuinely care for and love one another. In a real love relationship, you cherish the person you love, respect their individuality, and care about how they feel as well as what they have to say. Toxic relationships can be addictive, but real love is caring, compassionate, and considerate. It's crucial that both you and your partner feel good and cared for in your relationship. If your partner puts you down or makes you feel bad about yourself, it is not something to ignore. A real love relationship is one where both you and your partner feel secure and cared for.
What is a good relationship?
Good relationships are healthy relationships. You and your partner will both feel loved if you have a good relationship. Good relationships are typically characterized by effective communication or the effort to improve communication skills until the communication patterns become more effective, compassion, empathy, purposeful displays of affection, and the ability to be your own person while in the relationship. In a good or healthy relationship, rather than avoid conflict, you will talk things out with the person you love. Don't start arguments for no reason, but don't hold it in when you're upset, either. Additionally, in good relationships, you don't experience unhealthy enmeshment with the person you love. Instead, you're autonomous beings who are appreciative of each other's authentic self.
What is a love relationship?
A love relationship is another term for a romantic relationship. When you fall in love with someone and build a partnership with them, that is a love relationship. A romantic relationship relates to your mutual romantic attraction for another person and the bond that you build with that person. In a love relationship, you and your partner feel mutual romantic attraction. Your partner will appreciate who you are as a person and will be considerate of your needs. Collectively, people in love relationships think about what they want their lives together to look like. When you fall in love, you should always know where the other person stands, and they should know where you stand. You shouldn't experience any confusion about whether you are loved or not if the connection is healthy.
What does a woman need in a relationship?
A woman needs what anyone else needs in a relationship. Some of the things that should be present in good relationships are emotional support, communication, listening skills, affection, and the ability to compromise or work things out. Affection is extremely important in relationships, and it's something that should be displayed. Lack of affection is one of the common relationship problems that a lot of couples work on in couples therapy because it is so foundational in a relationship. Physical displays of affection, like making the effort to hold hands with and kiss your partner, are one way to increase authentic feelings of affection. Another vital part of affection is verbalizing your love and appreciation for the other person. Body language is also an important component. If your partner is always turning their back on you, giving you the cold shoulder, or if they appear closed off, tense, or frustrated all of the time, there may be a problem.
What do men want in a relationship?
Similar to women and relationships, a man in a relationship needs emotional support, affection, communication, and the ability to work out any problems that may show up. Both people in a committed relationship should be just as dedicated to showing affection, compromising, and communicating. Additionally, people of any gender want their partner to find time for them. If the effort is all on one side, it won't work out, and in fact, the relationship could become toxic. If you are not asexual, sexual desire is generally a part of a relationship, so both parties will likely want sexual desire to be fulfilled through physical intimacy. Again, if there are troubles in a relationship, it's possible to rekindle the fires of romance. Some couples do this on their own by working on things like emphasizing communication and shows of love they give in the partnership, and others find that additional support through therapy is the best route. Many people benefit from learning about the sound relationship house theory and other components of a therapy modality called the Gottman Method. Another highly effective form of therapy for couples is EFT or emotionally focused therapy. If you can’t afford therapy, you can still learn about these modalities and use them to your advantage to help you and your partner ensure that both of your wants and needs are fulfilled in the relationship and help to encourage passion within the bond.
What is a toxic relationship?
A toxic relationship is a relationship that is unhealthy. It may be unhealthy for a variety of reasons. A toxic relationship could mean a codependent relationship, a relationship without proper communication, or a relationship where someone doesn't feel valued. It could also mean that there are frequent volatile arguments. Having disagreements is a healthy part of any relationship, and though it isn't fun, it's best to get things all out on the table and work together to work things out. However, if it is volatile and constant, it is different. Toxic relationships and abusive relationships are two different things, though an abusive relationship is most certainly toxic.
What are the three C's in a healthy relationship?
Commitment, communication, and compromise are referred to as the three C's of a healthy relationship. It is a good idea to make sure that all three of these things are present in your relationship. It's important to remember that every relationship is different, and the three C's will not necessarily operate the same in each relationship. For example, commitment for people with an open relationship will look different than someone who is not in an open relationship. Additionally, different relationships require varying levels of compromise. If you're struggling in your relationships, a mental health provider such as a counselor or therapist can help. Start with ReGain to talk to a licensed provider online, or find someone to work with in your local area.