On The Couch


The Most Overlooked, Under-Rated Sign of a Great Relationship

If you have this, you’re winning.

“I love you — I am at rest with you — I have come home.”
Dorothy L. Sayers

Relationships are hard, everyone says.

And they seem particularly hard when you’re going through a rough patch with your partner or you’ve had your heart torn to shreds.

While it’s true that all relationships have their challenges it’s can skew your thinking; it can make you think that being in a relationship is harder than racing Bear Grylls up a mountain.

But a young man I worked with reminded me of this sign of a great relationship — which is often overlooked and definitely under-rated.

When we met, he was 30 and had just come out of a torrid relationship; his girlfriend had been needy, manipulative and impossible to read: he never knew what version of her he was going to get.

He’d finally broken away but it had left him anxious, almost traumatised. And it was not the first time — all his relationships had been hard: unpredictable and confusing.

He was up for giving up, of filing women in the “too hard” basket and just hanging out with his mates. And he did — for nearly two years.

But then he met someone. When we caught up again, they’d been together six months and he was still shaking his head at his luck in finding her.

“What’s so different about this relationship?” I asked.

“It’s just so easy,” he said.

The Magic of an Easy Relationship

“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”— Maya Angelou

My client made a great point. Having an “easy” relationship is frequently under-rated because it might not seem edgy or sparky enough. And relationship are supposed to be hard…aren’t they?

Nope. Relationships do take effort — you can’t afford to be lazy or complacent with them. And every relationship faces tests over time. But you shouldn’t wake up every day feeling like it’s all “hard slog”, like you’re going to work on a construction site (even if you are).

But some of the best relationships work (and keep working) because of the ease both partners feel in the others’ company. Here are the key signs you might be onto a very good “easy” thing.

7 Signs of an “Easy” Relationship

Your partner likes you — the whole package — and tells you so, often. You like who you are when you’re with your partner. Which teaches you to like yourself more when you’re not.

Obviously, feeling safe with a partner is critical. But you also feel safe to raise the “big” topics — that your partner will listen and their reactions will be fair and reasonable, even if they don’t always agree with you.

You’re as comfortable in silence as you are with talking. It means you feel fully relaxed around them. Which is a wonderful thing.

You don’t have to wait nervously to see which version of your partner has shown up for your anxiety to settle. So you’re always happy to see them before they show up — as well as when they do.

You both own your mistakes and apologise appropriately when necessary. You don’t hold grudges or storm out of the house or give silent treatment or use sex as a weapon or any other dysfunctional “battle” strategies.

Wow. Your partner wants you to have a life beyond them. It makes you want them to have one too.

You don’t have to spend every waking minute together but, because you genuinely enjoy your partner’s company, you create time for it. You both initiate things for the two of you to do and, shock-horror, you have fun.

You struggle to put it into words but it just feels good. As Helen Keller said: “the best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” It feels…right.

Thanks for reading! Join my email list here if you’re interested in practical psychology for everyday life.

Written by

Clinical psychologist, writer. Editor of On the Couch: Practical psychology for everyday life. karen@onthecouch.co.nz

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