It’s sometimes disheartening when I realize that healthy relationships seem to be hard to come by nowadays. Between our demanding work lives, past relationships, and everyone’s unique personal finance history, finding a balance of nurturing our lives while also facilitating a relationship can be really hard. Often it’s difficult to know when to prioritize yourself (and your needs) in a relationship, because we get worried that we’re being “selfish.” But I think it’s crucial to really look out for ourselves, and make sure we’re getting treated the way we deserve to be in relationships. Instead of going down the laundry list of things you shouldn’t have in your relationship, here are five fundamental requirements that women should demand, because they build a foundation for any healthy, equal partnership.
1. Respect. Aretha knew was she was talking about. Hands down, respect is the most important part of a relationship. If a person respects you, they will treat you accordingly. A person that respects you will listen, be honest, and consider your feelings. Especially from a career perspective, respect is important because it should never feel like one person’s career goals are more important than the others. In fact, each of your relationships to your careers should be something that is not only respected, but celebrated in your relationship. More importantly, you have to respect yourself and know yourself. You’re less likely to put up with unnecessary drama or B.S. that way.
2. Communication. Effective communication is a two-way street. You should hear and be heard. Telepathy is not a real thing. You can’t expect anyone to “just know” what you need, what you want, or what you feel, and vice versa. You have to articulate your expectations respectfully and clearly. And then you have to return the favor and listen to your partner, and ask thoughtful questions if you don’t understand. (You know how the old saying goes about the repercussions of assuming!) While you’re at it, learning about love languages can make communicating even easier, in my opinion. To ensure the best communication, remember to be respectful in speaking AND listening.
For any partnership to move forward, there needs to be financial communication. Making assumptions about your S.O.’s money can be detrimental to a relationship, and if one of you has a problem with the other’s spending habits, it’s best to openly discuss that as soon as it comes up. Similarly, if you and your partner are planning on moving in, or thinking about marriage, it’s so important to discuss what debts you have, what your credit score is, and make sure you’re accurately communicating your whole financial picture to the other person.
3. Honesty. A person who will lie is not worth your time. Lying is not only disrespectful and selfish, but it’s also pointless. The truth always comes out and the fallout is generally worse than if the truth was told at the beginning. If there is respect and open communication in your relationship, there should be no reason why you can’t be honest with each other. If there is a reason why you can’t be honest with your mate, you need to do some soul-searching. Ask yourself why you can’t be honest with your partner. As painful as it is to admit, it might be because you’re not being honest with yourself yet.
4. Trust. If you’re respectful and communicate honestly with your partner, there’s no real reason for a lack of trust. And if you are going to consider merging finances at any point, you should know how essential trust really is. Even if you or your partner bring financial baggage and insecurities into the relationship, there’s no reason you can’t trust each other if you’ve explained your past mistakes to each other. I like to remember that it isn’t fair to make anyone upset for their past money mistakes, as long as they are improving in the present. Don’t let anyone make you suffer for something in the past that you can’t change.
5. Forgiveness. First and foremost, forgiveness is not for the wrongdoer. When you forgive someone, you give yourself peace to let things go. No one is perfect. There has to be room for reasonable error, which is (understandably) relative. You have to determine what’s reasonable for yourself, and stand firm on your core values and self-respect. Once you forgive, don’t bring it up again. When there’s respect, communication, honesty, and trust, you’re more likely to be able to move on from a transgression (real or perceived).
No matter what kind of “ship” you’re sailing in (relationship, friendship, situation-ship, etc.) you can’t go wrong with demanding these things at a minimum; either you’ll get what you need, or you’ll free yourself from an unhealthy situation.
Flanice is a DC-based “idea machine,” traveler, blogger, budding coder, and helper of people. She blogs here.
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