How do you know if a relationship is working? When things are going well, you should feel grounded and balanced. In a serious relationship, there are going to be changes — big changes. But in a balanced relationship, you'll both give and take and change along the way.
"Long-term relationships will change you — either for better or for worse," Jianny Adamo, Counselor and Certified Relationship Coach at Fearless Love, tells Bustle. "Love has the power to transform us, so hopefully we have chosen well and picked a partner that can grow with us. [Their] friends and family become our friends and family and vice versa. Their debts or assets will either take or give to our relationship. Their ability to support, listen [to], and cherish us will be wind in our sail, but if they tend to criticize, invalidate and can't hear you, this will take from you."
And that's why it's crucial that both of you pitch in. In intimate relationships where you affect each other so deeply, you both need to be contributing and receiving the same amount of energy and support. One-sided relationships aren't healthy. So here's how you can create balance in the relationship, because it takes a lot of honesty.
The first step towards creating balance is one that you've probably heard before. "Communicate: this involves both speaking and listening," relationship coach at Maze of Love, Lauren Irish, tells Bustle. "Without open lines of two-way communication, the relationship will be out of balance because only one partner is really being heard and considered. So be sure to really listen when your partner is sharing and don't be afraid to share! The whole point of a relationship is to co-create an environment where both people complement each other, if each person isn't contributing or isn't able to contribute, the relationship will likely be one-sided."
2. Accept Disagreement
Having a balanced relationship doesn't mean you agree on everything — in fact, it can be just the opposite. "Be willing to disagree: a balanced relationship isn't conflict-free, conflict can help to restore balance through getting bottled emotions out in the open or it can act as a venue for sharing different perspectives," Irish says. "The key to disagreeing effectively is to not attack the other person and maintain respect on both sides."
Make room to disagree, try to understand each other's point of view, and debate with respect. You don't need to be the same person, you just need to hear each other out.
3. Find Your Unique Balance
Not every relationship is going to be balanced in the same way. "Know what balance looks like in your relationship: Every relationship is unique and will have different points of balance," Irish says. "Take time to figure out what's important to you and where you're willing to compromise. If you stay true to your values, you'll find a balance that works for you." It might not look like someone else's relationship — and that's OK.
4. Be Authentically You
If your relationship is going to have true balance, you both need to be authentic. "Any time you are not authentically yourself it's a sign that you are not truly comfortable in a relationship," relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "If you are hiding things, embarrassed about things, faking things, it suggests that you don't feel that [your partner] will truly like you for yourself." Being authentic shows that you feel supported in the relationship — and your partner should feel able to do the same.
5. Consult And Consider Each Other
You might not always do what the other one wants, but having a balanced relationship means taking them into consideration. "
If your partner regularly makes relationship decisions without consulting you or incorporating your needs, desires, and preferences into the decision making process, they care more about getting their way than they do about creating harmony in the relationship," Adam Maynard, a relationship coach who specializes in helping people navigate relationship challenges, tells Bustle "They also hold more of the power because their needs are regularly being prioritized." If only one of you is thinking about the other, there's no balance.
6. Be Independent
Having a balanced relationship isn't just about balance between the two of you, it's also about having balance between your relationship and the rest of your life. "It’s incredibly important for both partners to maintain a sense of independence outside of their relationship," Jalesa Tucker, a content coordinator at One Love, a foundation dedicated to teaching young people about healthy and unhealthy relationships, tells Bustle. "By engaging in activities independent of each other, couples are better able to maintain their sense of self and bring diverse experiences to their relationship."
7. Take Space When You Need It
Being in a balanced relationship doesn't mean your relationship is always going to feel perfect. There may be times when you need to take a bit of space or when you're not feeling 100 percent, over-the-moon crazy about each other. That's OK. Riding that ebb and flow of a relationship is part of maintaining balance.
A balanced relationship is a healthy relationship — it's about being equal partners and making sure that you're both feeling comfortable and supported. But it's also about making sure there's independence. The trick is to keep checking in and communicating, that way you can fix an issues or tensions that come up, before they throw the balance off.