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I'm often asked to describe what a happy healthy relationship looks like. While it varies from couple to couple, I have noticed ten things all successful relationships have in common.

When we’re growing up our role models—usually our parents—provide and teach us about love and respect. We need these qualities to develop self-respect, self-worth, confidence and trust.

If your parents didn’t show each other affection, respect and kindness you may not have learned what a healthy happy relationship looks like. As an adult you could be accepting the unacceptable in your own relationship without even knowing it.

Research shows that healthy relationships lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve mental health and increase longevity. It’s safe to say these benefits are lessened in unhealthy relationships.

People who feel unworthy and not deserving respect and appreciation may settle for less and never get to experience a happy, healthy relationship. But that can be changed.

10 things you need for a healthy relationship

1. Respect: This is the foundation of every health happy relationship. You honor each other’s boundaries and vulnerabilities and express yourselves with empathy and kindness.

2. Good communication: You feel comfortable saying what’s in your heart without fear of being judged or feeling guilty. You take the time to be heard and to listen well—skills that need constant mindful attention.

3. Love/connection. Love is the oxygen of life. It’s what we all want and need most, including physical affection like warm hugs and kisses. You are valued, not judged. You know where your partner stands even if you don’t agree.

4. Trust: Like respect, trust begins as self-trust. Trust enables you to be your true self and not bend who you think you should be in order to avoid conflict. It not only builds confidence and self-worth, when self-trust becomes mutual trust your bond is strengthened.

5. Intimacy: From holding hands to sharing secret looks to problem solving together, there are countless ways you can experience physical, emotional and mental intimacy.

6. Security: You take risks, knowing your partner has your back. Security is the feeling that no matter what happens you’re in it together. You’re confident your partner will not betray your trust.

7. Appreciation: You admire each other’s strengths and say so. You feel and express gratitude even for small gestures. You feel validated and understood when no one else ‘gets’ you.

8. Support: You listen while your partner vents, not trying to fix anything. You ask what you can do to help and wait patiently for a response. Ask how you can solve a problem together.

9. Shared experiences. From loving romantic getaways to shared crises, you’re in it together. These moments deepen your bond and cultivate intimacy.

10. Your best friend. That special person who you can laugh and be silly with, who shares your deepest dreams and failures. Nobody does it better than your best friend!

Can you think of anything else that everyone deserves in a relationship? Please leave your ideas in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.

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