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The 10 Most Important Dimensions of Any Relationship

These relationship measures could tell you whether or not yours is healthy.

Relationships are living entities. They move backward and forward in time. They evolve and decay; they can die and can be reborn. They can become locked in by their limitations or transformed beyond them.

You can evaluate your relationship regularly using the following ten most important dimensions. They can tell you whether your partnership is healthy or on a problematic trajectory, and they can give you the chance to change what may be lacking or increase what is needed to get your relationship back on track.

Read through them with your partner and share your responses with each other. Talk about where you agree and where you see things differently.

1. Scarring and Expanding. All relationships scar. No matter how much you care for each other, you are bound to make mistakes and cause distress to your relationship. Physical or emotional scar tissue is benign. It can no longer take in nourishment or give up its toxicity. But relationships can also grow beyond their scarring, surrounding those dead places with potential for new growth.

There are four combinations of scarring and growth in a relationship. High scarring and low growing. Low scarring and low growing. High scarring and high growing. Low scarring and high growing. Of the four combinations, the last combination predicts the best relationship outcome.

2. Deepening. Relationships will deepen or become superficial. Maintaining sincere curiosity in your partner’s thoughts, feelings, hopes, fears, frustrations, and new desires is crucial. When you think you know each other so well that you don’t have to keep exploring each other anymore, your relationship is moving toward parallel roommates rather than intimate lovers. Don’t be fooled by easy compatibility.

3. Using Past Mistakes to Create a Better Future. Focusing on past errors by continuously rehashing is bad news for any possibility of a different future. The past should only be used to debrief, never to rehash. What did we do that was not good for us? How can we do it better next time? Are we accepting accountability or just blaming the other? Are we seeking options rather than accepting our limitations? The past will define the future for you if you do not use it to plan a different way of being together.

4. Resilience. How is your bounce-back capability? Do you get stuck in the same relationship-destructive negativity for long periods of time, or can you come back more quickly to rectify and start over? Resilience in an individual, as well as in relationships, is a positive quality. Holding on to grudges or disappointments, no matter how legitimate, will keep you stuck.

5. Flexibility. Relationships that are limited to one-way responses and repeated reactions cannot evolve. Like any living entity, relationships that are rigid can’t move beyond what they have always been. Unexpected conflicts will always arise. Losses cannot be predicted. Can you bend with challenges and jettison old patterns when you need to open up to new ways of being?

6. Welcoming Challenge. No relationship path is smooth. Unexpected losses or temptations to quit are options for you at any time. A great team is not only ready to alter perceptions and learn new skills, but to welcome them. The need for security can often be a saboteur of growth when you most need to take the risks that will strengthen your capabilities as a team. When new challenges come, can you use them to deepen and strengthen your bond?

7. Maintaining Intrigue. Same-old, same-old is a harbinger of boredom and a warning bell. If you feel that excitement, passion, or interest in each other is waning, you will be more susceptible to seeking that elsewhere. Every person needs to be challenged and curious. If you continue to be predictable, known entities, your partners will stop being interested in you. Your connections will become less frequent and last for shorter times. “I know what you’re thinking, so I don’t need to ask or delve further" means you don’t share anymore.

8. Staying Open to Restructuring. Relationships that go on and on in the same way, dealing with life’s distractions and challenges as they always have, become dead-ends for the possibilities of transformation and new directions. Even if things seem to be okay, you must commit to continued growth and transformation, both personally and in your relationships. Are you continually challenging each other to be the best people you can be? If you are a more interesting and alive person outside the relationship, you may be headed in the wrong direction.

9. Withstanding Storms and Growing From Them. Life can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult. People get sick. Families change in their availability. Friends move away. Jobs are lost. Depression and anxiety can overuse resources. The abuse of drugs or alcohol can destroy intimacy. Successful relationships know how to use their resources when they’re in trouble and how to delegate fairly. If you aren’t learning from your stormy times and loving each other through them, you may find yourselves defeated by them the next time they arise.

10. Feeling It's Worth It. Relationships are investments of time, energy, money, availability, and love. Like any investment, if they cost more over time than they can return, they will likely become less important to one or both of you. Do you feel like your relationship is still paying off more often than not? Are your expectations in line with probabilities? Can you focus more attention on the positives of the relationship to change the way you experience it?

Choose Dr. Randi Gunther a Clinical Psychologist & Marriage Counselor who truly understands the complexities of human connection.

Reach out to Dr. Randi today and take the first step toward a brighter, more fulfilling future together.

Dr. Gunther is available by Zoom or Facetime


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