So what do I actually mean by “healthy”, anyway?
I have a feeling that most people reading this automatically got an image popping up in their mind of some fit body or had thoughts about exercise. Well, ok. That could be related to physical health. But I am going over and beyond that when I refer to healthy.
Someone could be very physically healthy by spending hours a day in the gym and monitoring the heck out of their nutrition and what they put into their body, but not actually be very healthy. If you really think about this, living this type of lifestyle on a day to day basis might not bode so well for having the healthiest relationship with a partner.
With the amount of time, effort, and energy spent focusing on maintaining this person’s physical health, there might not be much time left over for another person. Not to mention the limitations this couple would have on where they could eat out on date night.
So, what do I mean by health if not just physical health?
Well, there are many areas of our lives. Our career, social life, mental health, finances, and interests all contribute to how “healthy" or “well” we are overall.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Are you happy and content with your career and where it is headed?
- Do you have good self-esteem and basically feel “good enough”?
- Do you engage in fulfilling hobbies or interests on a regular basis outside of the relationship?
- Do you spend time with friends and family outside of the time you spend with your partner?
- Do you feel like you have a purpose in your life and/or have some fulfilling activity you engage in?
- Do you feel financially secure or at least on a path to getting there?
- Do you feel you manage your stress well?
- Do you feel you have good coping skills? (ex. Managing anger or anxiety?)
If you were able to answer yes to most of the above, then congrats. You are, basically a healthy individual. You are doing well.
Being someone who is well, or “healthy” usually makes a good partner in a relationship, as they do not rely on the other person to take care of these needs for them. They also do not over-tax their partner or the relationship with excessive amounts of stressors.
Let me give two examples:
Let’s say Person A hates their job and is financially stressed with 50K in credit card debt that they are constantly thinking about. Because of this, they come home in an irritable mood and cope by turning on the TV and zoning out, not wanting to talk. They used to love to go with their friends on weekends to concerts but have stopped because of their financial constraints. They are too embarrassed to tell them why they have stopped going with them, so they have just shut them out and now feels lonely and misses them.
Now, let’s say Person B loves their job and feels completely fulfilled every day going into work. They feel like they are making a difference in peoples’ lives even though they aren’t going to be rich anytime soon. They live within their means and spend their time outside of work socializing with friends, reading some new novel, or trying to cook up some new recipe that looked good. Life is not ever perfect, but when they get stressed or down, they go for a walk or take the time to see a therapist for help, depending on what is going on at the time.
Now, notice I did not mention if either one of them was physically in the best shape of their life or discuss how “buff” they were. But one of them is definitely “healthier” than the other and would make a much better partner. Being with them would help you have a much healthier and happier relationship from the get-go. (I hope you knew that was person B!)
I also said it would help you to have a much healthier and happier relationship. I did not say that it would definitively give you that. As with any two people who come together, there are many, many variables and factors that ultimately determine if a relationship is healthy and works out in the long run.
Nobody is perfect and everyone has things going on in their life that are stressful. The goal is not to only find someone who is completely “healthy” and devoid of any stressors. Nor is it for you to put off trying to be in a relationship until you are “healthy” and stress-free. But by being aware of how healthy you are and having the ability to understand how that impacts being in a relationship is key to giving yourself the best shot of having a healthy and happy relationship.