10 signs you’re in a genuinely healthy relationship, according to psychology

The “perfect relationship” is a myth. If you’ve been with us at Ideapod long enough, you know how hard we work to try and bust that myth for you. 

It’s a fancy (and highly profitable) story peddled by rom-coms and Instagram influencers. 

But what does a genuinely healthy relationship look like, beyond the staged photos and gushy captions? 

Well, boy have I got some insights that might surprise you!

Forget the clichés about candlelit dinners and never-ending passion. 

Read on to learn more about the 10 surprisingly specific signs that you’re in a relationship that’s not just good, but genuinely healthy, according to both science and your snarky (but well-meaning) online best friend:

1) Silence isn’t awkward

Forget the pressure to fill every moment with meaningless chitchat (basically air at this point.)

Healthy couples relish comfortable silences. 

They don’t find the chirping of crickets or the tumble of tumbleweed awkward. In fact, their ability to sit together in silence is more indicative of how comfortable they are with one another.

Think being able to binge-watch a show without narrating every scene, or taking a road trip without feeling the need to play I-spy-with-my-little-eye. 

Comfortable silence indicates just that. A heightened degree of comfort, and the pleasure of sitting in each other’s company without having to put on a show.

2) You don’t have to ask for apologies

Forget the begrudging “sorry” muttered through gritted teeth, that you had to basically extract from your partner’s lips in the first place. 

In a healthy relationship, apologies flow freely and genuinely, without any need to force them or beg for them.

You own up to your mistakes, even when it’s hard to do so. You might not always have done so, but it comes naturally now.

In response, your partner does the same. Neither of you has to ask for an apology – they’re just offered up readily whenever the situation requires them.

3) Post-conflict cuddle time!  

Disagreements are inevitable, but healthy couples know how to fight fair and reconnect afterwards.

You might bicker over whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, or bat heads about whose turn it is to take the dog out, but you can still cuddle up and watch a movie later. 

Research shows that couples who engage in physical affection after a conflict report higher relationship satisfaction.

4) Shared secret language

Every couple develops their own lingo, whether it’s pet names, code words, or jokes no one else in the world would understand. 

This secret shared language is a sign of intimacy, a way of creating a bubble that only the two of you understand. 

One comment or stolen glance can send you both spinning into giggles thanks to the connected history you share, with layers of commemorable events and silly inside jokes.

It’s like having your own private club, complete with secret handshakes, silly nicknames, and general misbehavior.

5) “I told you so” (never ever happens)

We all love being right, but in a healthy relationship, you resist the urge to say “I told you so” when your partner messes up. 

You prioritize their needs over your own fleeting desire to win an argument or be right and proud about it.

Instead of gloating, you offer up plenty of support and empathy (with maybe a teensy tiny bit of commiserations.)

This incredibly healthy behavior creates a safe space where both of you can share thoughts, feelings, and mistakes without the fear of being shamed for it. 

6) Ugly crying isn’t a big deal

Everyone has those moments when they just need to let it all out. 

In a healthy relationship, you have the freedom to ugly cry, all blubbering snot and banshee wails, without fear of judgment or ridicule. 

Your partner will be there with a tissue and a hug – not a camera, a grimace, and a snarky comment. 

This kind of unconditional support is essential for emotional intimacy and stands as one of the other foundational pillars for that vital safe space we mentioned earlier.

7) Compliments still happen (regularly!) 

Even when you’re in your rattiest sweatpants and haven’t showered in two days, your partner still finds you attractive. 

And not only do they appreciate your inner beauty –  they voice it.

This doesn’t have to be an obsequious showering of fake compliments, but even a little pat on the back or a sly wink.

Healthy relationships don’t let that spark of attraction simmer (even if someone hasn’t showered in a while.)

They appreciate your inner beauty as much as (or even more than) your outer appearance.

8) “I love you” is said in other ways

As important as those verbalized statements of affection and reassurance are, healthy couples do one more than vocalize their love. 

They show it just as much in action as in words.

Think small gestures, like making you coffee in the morning or surprising you with your favorite snack, or taking a load off your shoulders by doing menial tasks for you.

Healthy relationships involve a great deal of affirmations and reassurance, even if they’re uttered silently or invisible to the naked eye.

9) An openness to discuss anything

You can talk about anything and everything with your partner. 

Even the difficult stuff, including your deepest and darkest secrets, your slightly embarrassing fears, your insecurities and your worries. 

Owing to that safe space you’ve built together, you feel safe and comfortable expressing your thoughts, feelings, and needs, knowing that they’ll listen without judgment.

10) Your own personal cheerleader

Your partner isn’t just your best friend and your lover, they’re your biggest cheerleader

They believe in you. Even when you don’t believe in yourself. 

They push you to be your best – not out of competition – but out of genuine love and support. 

They have an unwavering belief in your capabilities, and only want the best for you in every situation.

As relationship expert Brené Brown says, “True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

The bottom line

Healthy relationships aren’t about perfection, they’re about connection, authenticity, and mutual respect. 

They’re about finding someone who accepts you for who you are, quirks and intricacies included!

By recognizing these surprisingly specific 10 signs, you can not only assess the health of your own relationship but also learn to improve upon the qualities that make a relationship truly thrive.

So, next time you’re wondering if your relationship is the real deal, forget the grand gestures and focus on the little things. 

The comfortable silences, the unsolicited apologies, the shared secret language – these are the true signs of a love that’s built to last. Go forth and appreciate them!

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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