If you've been around on social media for a while, you've probably noticed the countless posts with inspirational quotes, lifestyle tips, and relationship advice. And although I can see why these posts are popular, I believe social media is not a place you should take your life advice from. Neither is my blog since I'm not a professional in any of these fields. However, I am trained to make critical observations, so here it goes.
Many posts concerning relationships have a format where they point out the key elements of a healthy relationship. Most of them use ten slides of text and the entire caption, which is way too much text on a photosharing platform - but that's a discussion for another time. One of the posts a came across went something like this:
A healthy baseline in romantic relationships looks like
a partner who is willing to communicate with you, even through conflict
a partner who wants you to feel supported, included, validated, loved, and cared for
a partner willing to take accountability
a partner willing to respect your needs
a partner willing to listen, understand and compromise where necessary
a partner who wants to hear how you feel and what you need
Don't get me wrong, these points make a wonderful basis for a romantic relationship. But - yes, I said it - there's something inherently wrong with the way this list is formulated. The title says: "A healthy baseline in romantic relationships looks like" and then follows a list of demands for your partner. And after eleven years of being in a healthy romantic relationship, I can tell you: that's not how it works.
The best basis for a romantic relationship - and for any relationship for that matter - is to realize that it is a two-way street. And that's something all of these posts seem to neglect. Yes, you may expect from your partner that they are willing to communicate and listen, support and care, respect and understand. But then, after you asked them to do all of this, you have to stop and ask yourself: Am I that partner? Am I that partner who is willing to communicate and listen, support and care, respect and understand? Or am I behaving like a spoiled little brat who takes my partner for granted?
Sure, there are times that one of you needs a little more attention than the other. When one of you needs to pick up a little more of the caring because the other can't for whatever reason. But there always comes a point where you need to evaluate - together - where you are, how you feel about it, and what needs to be changed to make your relationship more equal again.
So how should these posts full of one-sided relationship advice be phrased? It's quite simple actually:
A healthy baseline in romantic relationships looks like both partners
willing to communicate, even through conflict
wanting the other to feel supported, included, validated, loved, and cared for
willing to take accountability
willing to respect the other's needs
willing to listen, understand and compromise where necessary
wanting to hear how the other feels and what they need