This is going to be short, because I’m just asking a question I’ve had in my brain for a while, and I’d be curious to have others’ opinions on it.
If you had to pick one barometer for whether a relationship, either yours or someone else’s, was healthy or not, what would it be?
I’ve had the same answer to this question in my head for quite some time, and I think it’s a decent one to take a step back and ask sometimes. If I had to pick just one, it would be this: how much more or less do you connect with the people other than the one the relationship is with?
I think good relationships help people connect *in general*, not just with the people they’re with, and that bad ones tend to, to a greater or lesser degree, not do that. What do you guys think?
I think it’s pretty easy to think of counterexamples to this rule. Suppose while looking for partner/s you are doing a lot of superficial socializing (hanging out in bars, going to loud parties), where you have many acquaintance-friends and few close friends — but when you are in (a) good relationship/s, you switch to being close friends with them and a small number of other people and talk to many fewer people total. Or suppose that for whatever reason, your available social circles make your life a living hell, and your partner/s provide respite by facilitating your disconnecting from others and being able to vent about them.
It’s a decent heuristic — certainly you can imagine abusive relationships where one partner forbids the other from maintaining other friendships or even contact with family, and on the other extreme a partner who makes the other feel more confident and more able to “take on the world”. But I think I wouldn’t choose it as “just one rule.” I’m with Heina on this — it’s got to be happiness, if you have to pick only one. Does the relationship make you enjoy your life more, or less than you did before the relationship? (Whatever life-enjoyment looks like to you — could be more socializing with others, could be less, could be the same.)
That makes sense. I think the reason I like this one is that it feels less easy to fool yourself about, because it’s not a thing about the relationship itself. People’s perspectives on their own relationships can get really skewed out of perspective, and I think it’s harder for that skewed perspective to corrupt perception of outside things than inside things.
As trite as this may sound, I think a good general barometer is happiness and stress level with regards to specifically relationship things.