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How to Tell if Your Relationship is Thriving: 10 Key Signs

Got the basics (mostly) covered but want to make your relationship as good as it gets? Here‘s how to tell if you’re on track.

Karen Nimmo
May 21 · 4 min read

You’re in a relationship — and you’re doing okay.

You know — of course you do — what it takes to keep a relationship healthy: you’ve Googled it. Trust. Dependability. Boundaries, conflict resolution skills, agreement around all the big stuff like money, sex, kids, religion and chores.

So far, so good. But you wonder — as date night rolls around again and you’re doing apricot chicken (again) — is this it? Are we doing as well as we can? Are we creating a relationship that’s the stuff of Instagram legend? And do we care enough to do so?

If this is you, take to moment to give yourselves some credit. If you have all the big issues squared away, then you’re ahead of most couples who’ve been together a while. AND if you are both still (willingly) showing up for date night then you’re probably at the top of the class.

But it still doesn’t mean you can climb into the Great Relationship deckchair and close your eyes. Relationships need attention and maintenance and — if you want to take things up a notch — the ability to think beyond your own needs.

Only the bold (and probably) arrogant would risk touting their relationship as aspirational — but here are some of the signs you’re ahead of the pack.

10 Key Signs of a Great (Even Enviable) Relationship

* You can recall the last time you said sorry (and why you did so).

If you can, well done. Even better if you’re both up for saying sorry when you’re wrong or been hurtful — WITHOUT being pushed. Those who say they never need to apologise — and we know you’re out there — need to do a double take.

* You give your partner space to express their opinions.

When they talk you stay quiet. You listen respectfully. You reflect their words back to show you’ve heard them. When you talk they are never fearful of having their views smashed down or brutally countered. Your partner would say you are a good listener even if you don’t always agree with each other.

* You don’t want to “fix” or change your partner.

You accept and appreciate their foibles for what they are. (NB: This should not mean you’ve just given up.)

* You can (still) surprise your partner.

And he/she can surprise you.

* You express love in ways THEY like it.

You’re aware of how your partner likes to receive love (e.g. a cuddle, a cuppa, an adventure, a gift, time together) and you strive to meet their needs, rather than stick to what what you like or do best.

* You can sit in easy silence.

This doesn’t mean post-conflict silence or emotional shut-down silence or we-have-run-out-of-things-to-say-to-each-other silence. This is comfortable I-know-you’re -there-but-I don’t-need-to-talk silence. In other words, you feel at peace with your partner, not like an emotional bomb is about to go off.

* You are (mainly) emotionally consistent.

You don’t expect your partner to suck up all your angst all the time (and you are not a sponge to theirs). Everyone has the occasional outburst but you are as emotionally available and supportive of your partner as you expect them to be for you.

* You share their joy — even when it (slightly) bores you.

When your partner is excited you can get on board. If they are often excited about the same thing/interest (e.g. sports results, their work, gardening, coding, a movie) and you’re not, you are at least up for feigning low-level enthusiasm. AND they do it back to you.

* You focus on now (with a little future thrown in)

Your best moments are not all behind you. You don’t dig around in the past; you know too much nostalgia will screw you over. You may have had some great boy/girl friends in the past but they’re not who you’re with now — maybe there’s a good reason for that? You focus on the present while laying down plans and goals for the future.

* You’re generous.

With your time, energy, support of your partner’s hopes and dreams. You don’t run a points system between you because it fosters taking over giving. You give and — in the best possible scenario — your generosity comes right back at you.


Enjoyed this? Check out my new book Busy as F*ck , a DIY approach to therapy in a stressed-out world. Available as an ebook or in paperback at Australian and New Zealand bookstores. Other territories coming soon.

Join my email list here for and receive a free gift: Seeing Someone: a brief guide to psychology, therapy and coaching. Enjoy!

On The Couch

Understanding yourself is the key to great results and optimum living. Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo offers help for your difficulties and a blueprint for fulfilling your potential.

Karen Nimmo

Written by

Clinical psychologist, writer, still learning how to live. Author of 3 books, including Busy As F*ck: 10 on-the-couch sessions for busy people everywhere.

On The Couch

Understanding yourself is the key to great results and optimum living. Clinical psychologist Karen Nimmo offers help for your difficulties and a blueprint for fulfilling your potential.

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