In a world where gender roles and stereotypes have long influenced the relationships in our lives, it's time we redefine what a healthy relationship actually looks like.
Whether it's romantic, platonic, or a familial bond, the relationships in our lives are informed by our character, upbringing, and yes - our gender.
The connection between gender and relationships is complex and multifaceted. Gender roles and expectations shape societal norms and power dynamics within relationships. Traditional gender roles influence behaviour, responsibilities, and emotional expression.
Power imbalances can arise, impacting decision-making and control. Communication styles can be influenced, affecting how we express ourselves and navigate conflict. LGBTQ+ relationships can challenge traditional gender roles and offer opportunities for egalitarian dynamics. However, they can also fall into the gender-based trap of fulfilling the role of the 'man' and the 'woman' in the relationship.
However, healthy relationships are built on mutual respect, open communication, and equality, regardless of gender. Challenging traditional gender norms can lead to more fulfilling and empowering relationships, improving wellbeing for both parties, and a sustainable way of maintaining friendships, romantic partnerships and other types of relationships.
In this blog post, we'll explore the qualities of a healthy relationship, provide examples, and offer a checklist to help you cultivate and maintain thriving connections. Let's break free from societal expectations and embrace healthy relationships for all.
7 qualities of a healthy relationship
A healthy relationship is characterised by several key qualities that transcend gender roles and stereotypes.
These qualities contribute to the well-being and growth of the people involved and promote a harmonious connection that is sustainable and promotes a healthy dynamic. 7 qualities of a healthy relationship include:
Mutual Respect: Respect forms the foundation of a healthy relationship. It involves valuing each other's opinions, boundaries, and autonomy. Regardless of gender, both partners acknowledge and appreciate each other's individuality.
Open Communication: Healthy relationships thrive on open and honest communication. Both parties actively listen, express their needs and concerns, and work together to find solutions. Effective communication fosters understanding, trust, and emotional intimacy.
Equality and Shared Power: Healthy relationships are built on equality, where decisions are made collaboratively. Gendered power dynamics are challenged, and power dynamics are balanced. Both partners contribute to the relationship's growth and are valued for their unique strengths and perspectives.
Emotional Support: A healthy relationship provides a safe space for emotional vulnerability. Partners offer support, empathy, and validation to one another. Emotional needs are acknowledged and addressed without judgement or dismissal while being aware of how much energy the other person can give. Researcher Brené Brown sums it up well in this interview (this same idea can be applied to platonic and familial relationships too). Read our recent blog post on supporting men with talking about their emotions.
Trust and Honesty: Trust is fundamental in healthy relationships. Both partners feel secure in each other's fidelity, honesty, and reliability. Trust is fostered through transparency, consistent actions, mutual accountability, and time.
Individual Autonomy: In healthy relationships, each person maintains their individuality and personal growth. Both parties encourage and support each other's passions, goals, and independence. They understand the importance of self-care and give each other space for personal pursuits. Of course, in romantic relationships, it's expected to want to spend time with your partner, but if this comes at the expense of saying no to your own hobbies, interests and seeing your friends, that's an issue. Being in a relationship shouldn't come at the sacrifice of your own sense of self.
Conflict Resolution: Disagreements and conflicts are natural in any relationship. However, if you're wanting to know how to have a healthy relationship, conflicts are resolved through respectful communication, compromise, and a willingness to understand each other's perspectives. Constructive conflict resolution strengthens the bond rather than creating distance and is a more sustainable way of resolving recurring problems in the future.
Examples of Healthy Relationships
Here are a healthy relationships examples:
Romantic Relationships: A healthy romantic relationship may involve partners who support each other's dreams, share household responsibilities equitably (not falling into gendered expectations of who should do what i.e. in a heterosexual couple, leaving the cleaning to the woman), communicate openly about desires and boundaries, and foster emotional intimacy through trust and respect.
Platonic Relationships: In a healthy platonic friendship, friends prioritise each other's wellbeing, provide a safe space for vulnerability, and maintain open lines of communication. They celebrate each other's successes, offer support during challenging times, and respect each other's boundaries.
Familial Relationships: Healthy familial relationships are characterised by respect for individual choices (especially across the different ages and generations in the family), and open communication. Family members support each other's growth, acknowledge each other's strengths, and navigate conflicts with empathy and understanding.
In a world influenced by gender roles, redefining healthy relationships is vital. Make sure you've got your healthy relationship checklist to hand; Mutual respect, open communication, equality, trust, support, autonomy, and constructive conflict resolution foster relationships which empower us to be the best versions of ourselves - for ourselves and for those we love the most.
Our Healthy Relationships workshop is part of Voicebox's core workshop programme, covering everything from the benefits of having healthy relationships, to the impact of gender stereotypes, to challenging these stereotypes beyond the workshop.
If you're interested in booking one of Voicebox's workshops or assemblies, you can fill out a booking form here.
If you have a question or would like to chat through something with one of the team, you can book a free consultation here.