Once you pass the honeymoon stage of your relationship, it's easy to start overlooking all the amazing qualities of your partner, sometimes even to the point you begin
taking your relationship for granted. You might start to wonder if there's someone "better" out there, or someone who could meet even more of your needs. And while that's certainly possible, this feeling is almost always a case of "the grass is always greener."
"If you are with someone for long enough, there will be times when you
wonder if someone else might be out there," clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web Radio Show, tells Bustle. "It is because the unknown allows us to create our own false reality. We see our current partner, we see their strengths and weaknesses, their assets and flaws and then we compare that with something in our mind — the 'perfect' person who has all the assets and strengths of our partner with none of the flaws."
And while you certainly have every right to go looking for this potential person — especially if your current relationship is truly unhappy, or even
straight up toxic — usually it's just about readjusting your expectations, and beginning to appreciate all the wonderful, loving, supportive traits your current partner brings to the table. Here are signs of a healthy, happy relationship experts say can be easy to overlook, but are definitely worth appreciating.
It's easy to overlook all the little ways your partner shows kindness on a daily basis. But, when it comes to realizing you're in a solid, healthy relationship, these may be the very keys you need.
certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle, "The research of John Gottman identified kindness and generosity as two major factors in a successful relationship. If your partner is truly kind and generous towards you, there’s a good chance you will have a long-lasting, quality relationship with them."
So even though you've gotten used to the fact they make you coffee every morning, and are always there when you need a shoulder to cry on, these little things may be exactly what you should focus on when it comes to truly appreciating your relationship.
You Can Be Yourself Around Them
Comfort levels and authenticity are other major factors that can be easily overlooked. But they're still worth remembering. "If you’re dating someone who truly accepts your authentic self without reservations and doesn’t seek to change you, you’ve found a keeper," Bennett says. "Being authentic is a key component of happiness and you want a partner that encourages it."
This type of rapport may be due to your natural chemistry, or it may be a result of the trust and connection you've built over the years — and both can be tough to replace.
They're The First Person You Call
Who springs to mind when you first hear great news, or really bad news? It's fine to think of a friend or family member, but your partner should be high up on that list, too. And if they are, that's a pretty big indicator that they're an important and valuable part of your life.
"Relationships are about emotional connection — not just two people spending time together, living with each other, or [being] sexually involved," relationship counselor Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, director of the
Baltimore Therapy Center tells Bustle. "If you are excited to share your experiences and your internal world with your significant other, it's a sign that this relationship is on the right track."
You Can Argue In A Civil Way
We often equate arguments with "bad" relationships. But being able to argue, and feeling comfy enough to
share your thoughts in a healthy way, is actually pretty major. "You know you’ve got someone special when you can disagree and even argue but not need to fight," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert with Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Relationships are hard and require both parties to make sacrifices." That's why, if you're both willing and able to do that for each other, you should count yourselves lucky.
They Encourage You To Grow & Improve
Happy, healthy couples encourage each other to grow and change. So be on the lookout for all that support your partner throws your way, as it can be a sign you've got a good thing going.
"Signs that you have a great partner are when your partner is supportive, reliable, and generous with their time," Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of
RxBreakup tells Bustle. "These are all signs of a healthy partnership because a great partner encourages you to be your best at all times and they bring the best out of you."
There's A Solid Foundation Of Trust
When there's a solid foundation of trust in the relationship, you'll both "have healthy friendships outside of each other and have your own separate interests," relationship experts Liz and Linda, founders of
The2ndDate matchmaking service, tell Bustle. "You aren't co-dependent, you enjoy being on your own at times, but still miss each other when you are apart and look forward to being back together." If you have all those things with your current partner, why keep looking?
You Have Healthy Boundaries With Each Other
If you two have or need a lot of boundaries, it may feel like you don't have a good relationship. But did you know the opposite is actually true? "Sometimes we feel that partners who set boundaries — who are strong individuals, who are independent — don’t 'need us,'" says Dr. Klapow. But that's not true, Dr. Klapow says, because they want us, and that is more powerful. Boundaries show that you're together because you want to be, not because you have to be. And what could be more meaningful than that?
They're Supportive Of Your Dreams
While you're out chasing your dreams, it can be easy to forget that your partner's there in the background, cheering you on. But their encouragement shouldn't be something you take for granted —
or something you want to get away from.
"Sometimes this support feels frustrating; it feels like they are 'on you,'" Dr. Klapow says. "It may even make you want to look elsewhere, but it is the person who cares about you enough to help you reach your true potential (not their vision of your potential) who is an asset that you need to keep around."
They Remember The Little Things
Is your partner the type of person who surprises you with something you mentioned wanting six months ago, and then completely forgot about? If they remember the little things, "it shows that they are a good listener,"
dating and relationship expert Julie Spira tells Bustle.
And the same is true for the non-material. "For example, if you’re nervous about a presentation at the office, and your partner offers to help or be a sounding board, it’s a great sign," Spira says. "If they take it a step further and send you a text wishing you good luck before your meeting, and check in after it’s over, you know you’re in a healthy relationship with someone who really cares."
They Want To Make Your Life Easier
If your partner wants to help you out every day, they're a keeper.
"Whether that's [helping with your chores] or running some errands you didn't get to today, little things like this go a long way to show that someone genuinely cares about your wellbeing,"
author and natural lifestyle expert Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. Someone who truly cares about you will want to lighten your load, and that's not something that should be shrugged off or overlooked.
You Work Well Together As A Team
If you and your partner work well as a team, it may be time to lock that down, and let them know how much you appreciate them. Because easy, breezy teamwork doesn't happen with just anybody. As Reardon says, "It's great when both partners have a common understanding that there is no 'I' in team and believe in working together to grow as a one. Running a smooth, happy relationship takes effort from both sides."
And if you're in the type of relationship where that happens on the regular, don't take it for granted. Sure, you may occasionally wonder what could have been with someone else, or what other options are out there. But if you're happy with your partner, and are looking for something long-term, don't make the mistake of overlooking your partner's wonderful qualities, and how great your current relationship actually is.