Your partner should complement your life, not complete it.
You feel like a better version of yourself when you’re in a healthy, mature relationship. That doesn’t mean your partner completes you, but they do complement your life in just the right way.
What are some other signs that you’re in the right relationship? Below, marriage experts share seven key differences between a healthy relationship and a toxic one.
1. You’re free to pursue your hobbies and maintain friendships.
Nothing about your core identity should change drastically because of your new relationship status. A mature partner will recognize that pursuing outside interests is necessary and a healthy way to get some air from the relationship, said Kari Carroll, a couples therapist in Portland, Oregon.
“When a partner is too attached to allow you to enjoy something on your own, it can lead to sacrificing one’s own identity to appease the relationship,” she said. “If your partner has fears about you doing things on your own, it could turn into the self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, you may ultimately seek even more space and leave.”
2. You don’t act differently when you’re around them.
Do you act noticeably different when you’re alone with your friends and family versus when your new boo tags along? In a healthy relationship, your demeanor, personality, and general interactions are pretty much the same regardless of who’s there, said Marie Land, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.
“If you act differently when your partner is in the room, it’s a bad sign,” she told The Huffington Post. “You shouldn’t feel the need to adjust your behavior based on your partner’s presence.”
3. Power is relatively equal.
In a healthy relationship, power and household responsibilities are pretty much evenly distributed, said Amy Kipp, a couples and family therapist in San Antonio. You can count on your partner to respect your work obligations and to help clean up before mystery odors begin emanating from your apartment. It’s all part of the deal.
“Both partners should have equal decision-making power in every part of the relationship,” she said. “Toxic relationships often involve one partner that is highly dominant or two partners that engage in attempts to ‘grab’ power from the other.”