Is Your Relationship Good For You? The Simple Question You Need To Ask Yourself

Relationship “gurus” like Steve Harvey have made millions “teaching” women how to attract and keep a successful man. But to me, the mark of a healthy relationship is simple and doesn’t involve a ton of books or webinars. If you want to know if your relationship can possibly go the distance, there’s only one question you need to ask.

“Do I feel safe?”

It’s the basis of all healthy relationships and if the answer is anything other than “YES!” your relationship will flounder. Until you can enthusiastically say, “Yes, I feel safe with him/her,” everything else you’re doing together is a waste of time. Now, this question is actually a few questions in one. Let’s break it down:

“Do I feel physically safe?” 

This is the basic one. If your partner is yelling at you, threatening you, or hitting you, this is an unhealthy relationship and one that needs to end ASAP.  Understand that physical safety—being able to relax and let your guard down around your partner without fear of physical harm—is the number one priority. Realize that without it, there can be no trust, no understanding, no respect and no benefit for you.

“Do I feel safe sharing my emotions?”

Have you ever dated someone who always dismissed your thoughts? No matter what you said, they thought they knew better or tried to convince you that what you’re feeling isn’t true or doesn’t make sense. But in a healthy relationship, you can share your feelings and you don’t get blamed for them. You can tell your partner, “You know, I was upset when you were late coming home and you didn’t text me first.” A partner who doesn’t respect your emotions will brush you off: “Oh, you’re always getting upset over nothing.”

You matter. Your emotions matter. Now, let me also say that if your partner is sometimes dismissive, it doesn’t mean you bolt. Sometimes they do not hear themselves or realize how their actions affect you. Let them know how you feel and give them time to internalize it. If, over time, you still feel minimized or not taken seriously, then it’s time to make some hard decisions.

“Do I feel safe planning a future with this person?”

Say your boo is kind but can’t hold down a job. Or maybe he’s into music but he’s 35 and no closer to a record deal than when he was 18. Or say she’s always telling little white lies that snowball. If you can’t be relatively certain that this person will make decisions that benefit you both, it’s hard to say the relationship is going where you’d like it to go.

“Do I feel safe letting my guard down, i.e. being myself?” 

In talking to my therapist, I spoke about the feeling of wearing Spanx and how good it feels to come home and slip into some sweatpants. That’s how your relationship should feel – comfortable and freeing. Of course, in the beginning, there is a lot of pressure to be your “best self.” The one who is never late, who wipes her hands with napkins instead of licking the BBQ sauce off, the one who wears heels everywhere. But over time, you should feel safe giving your partner access to your authentic self —you know the one who is occasionally running 15 minutes late, who will her lick fingers in public with the quickness and who will laugh if you suggest wearing heels to the zoo.

It’s that simple.

“Do I feel safe?” covers a multitude of areas and reinforces what I want everybody reading this to understand: You matter. You are important. Everyone, should they choose to seek it out, deserves good, honest, enduring love.