There's more to it than that, though, and those types of relationships don't need to be romantic to offer you the benefits you're looking for. Close friends often share their deepest emotions with each other and exchange feedback without judgment or criticism. That's the beauty of truly fulfilling relationships.
It is a challenge to find those people and make those connections. Investing in relationships only to discover that there isn't a solid foundation or the other person doesn't value you in the same way you do them is utterly heartbreaking. It can be agonizing when that connection is broken and you go your separate ways, even if it's the right call. However, when you recognize a shared bond with someone it can be a truly magical connection and it's worth the risks.
Here are some of the indications that suggest you are, in fact, in a fulfilling relationship. You can compare these criteria to those close relationships you have and work hard on improving them where necessary.
• It's Safe & Equal
A relationship that is safe and equal, as well as intimate emotionally, means that you don't need to constantly look after someone else. If you're driven to always be the one pleasing someone else, constantly reacting and responding to their troubles, or always helping them manage emotions – then you're probably the caretaker in the relationship, which means you feel safe in control. This isn't an equal relationship because you aren't risking any vulnerability. That doesn't mean you don't value the connection, it just means that it isn't as fulfilling as it could or should be.
• It's Honest
If you lie to people, you are erecting a barrier between you. It might be time to ask yourself why you feel the need to lie because it's hiding your true self. Perhaps it is because you're afraid of judgment or that you are worried you will be rejected (or criticized). Lying risks the safety and intimacy in a relationship. It doesn't mean, though, that you can offer opinions unsolicited or that you can pass judgment. Being honest isn't about reacting with something that is hurtful just because you might feel hurt about something. It is all about expressing true emotions accurately and lovingly. It isn't name calling, blaming, or trying to control someone.
• You Don't Make Excuses
You shouldn't need to make excuses for how someone else behaves and if you do, then it's not a relationship with true acceptable. If it's a romantic partner and you constantly have to make excuses for how they behave or treat your friends then you're not seeing that person clearly. While everyone has great characteristics, they also have their weaknesses. In accepting, you accept those flaws, but you don't overlook them. Accepting their weaknesses doesn't necessarily mean you're endorsing them unless you make those excuses on their behalf.
Both parties need to be available, it's what makes a relationship fulfilling. When they need you, you are there and vice versa. When you tell someone you will be there – you are, and vice versa. You are there for the big life events and also give each other plenty of space to pursue your own goals and dreams. There's no room for jealousy or possessiveness because your connection is solid and it's built on trust.
There is nothing new about these ideas, but there is a lack of awareness of how fulfilling your relationships truly are. If you aren't meeting, the standards above it may be time to reassess how you proceed with them. Being aware of the state of your relationships will help you prioritize them and maintain them.
Herb Sennett writes about life and how to enjoy it more.