If you use these 10 phrases, you’re setting healthy standards in your relationship

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For the most part, relationships for me were always a trial and error. What to do, what not to do. Who to be, who not to be.

And so I get it. The confusion, the need for validation that you’re at least getting something right in your relationship. To know if you’ve raised your standards enough to make your relationship a healthy one.

And maybe you’ll find it here. If not, at least it could be something to think about. 

So, if you use these 10 phrases, you’re setting healthy standards in your relationship.

1) “Thank you for _______”

Acknowledgment and appreciation. What a simple yet heartfelt way to acknowledge love. 

But have you noticed? It’s something we don’t do as often as we should. We might think it’s a given that the people we love do something for us or that we do something for them.

However, will a “thank you” really hurt? Will gratitude truly be overdone if we acknowledge the things our partners do for us and vice versa?

Gratitude has been known to strengthen relationships, both platonic and romantic, so why is it something that could be difficult to do?

Is gratitude in your relationship something you only do once in a while? Is it something that requires grand romantic gestures and 5 business days of planning? 

Not really. You’re setting a healthy standard in your relationship if you find ways to express gratitude to your partner in even the smallest of ways. 

2) “You look amazing” 

The comments section of a reel or a story about a couple being sweet to each other is usually a place of yearning. 

You see one person hyping up their partner and see comments wanting the same.

And honestly? Same. I get them.

Apathy or negative comments could be hurtful. And for those of us who have had negative experiences with partners being mean or indifferent, being shown gentleness like that shows us the possibility.

What possibility, you might ask? Of being cherished. Of being adored. 

Even something as simple as saying “You look amazing” to your partner whenever it applies shows that. Did they put effort into how they look? Let them know.

In reverse, are they feeling not-so-good in their appearance? Don’t make a mean comment anymore. And if you’re genuine, say something that can make them feel more confident. 

Compliments are powerful, use them wholeheartedly and use them well. 

3) “I don’t like it when you do/say _____”

In love, it’s easy to let things pass. And one day, without you realizing, you have shrunk yourself so much for the sake of not rocking the boat.

So saying when something displeases you is a healthy standard to set. 

To be comfortable enough to tell your partner when their actions have hurt you, and that should be a bare minimum, but reality proves otherwise. 

Again, this is me coming from a string of less-than-stellar relationships but now that I’m older and wiser, I realized how important it is to affirm your boundaries. 

4) “I respect your (boundaries)”

And since we’re on the topic of boundaries now, let’s talk about consent. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline says, “Consent isn’t as simple as “no means no” or “yes means yes.” Consent is a safe, open, and ongoing conversation about the activities you and your partner are comfortable with and actively want to experience together.”

Besties, consent is so hot. And yes, even this statement frames consent in a sexual light but consent should be exercised in all areas of a relationship. 

“I respect your space.” 

“I respect your decision.”

“Of course, I will not pry.”

“Tell me when you’re ready.”

“Tell me if you’re uncomfortable.”

And many more. 

If boundaries and consent are being ignored in your relationship, that’s a VERY bright red flag. 

5) “No, I don’t want to do that”

While we’re on the topic of boundaries and consent, let’s talk about being able to say No. 

In an article discussing boundaries and the merits of saying no, Psych Central says:

“When we’re in a vulnerable position, put on the spot, face to face with someone else, we often fail to be straightforward about our personal boundaries. We might jump into fix it mode and do everything we can to appease the person and smooth things over. It’s about wanting to be liked and have our social interactions go smoothly.”

In relationships, some of us become so resistant to saying no to our partners. Maybe out of fear of being disliked or out of fear of ruining the relationship.

But remember, no is a powerful way to affirm your boundaries. To say no is to put your comfort first.

And let me ask you this, if a relationship is only surviving because you don’t say no, what proof do you have that it can withstand the test of time? 

If your relationship is only based on a false sense of harmony, where does the pretense end? What parts of yourself do you hide to make the relationship free of disagreements? 

Is saying yes all the time worth the price of your true peace of mind? 

6) “I’m sorry for _____”

Time passing is not an apology. The strength of a relationship is not enough reason not to give an apology either.

These things seem to get lost in translation when it comes to relationships, doesn’t it? When saying sorry is left as an afterthought.

Pride, after all, could be hard to swallow. However, it’s a healthy standard in a relationship to be able to apologize wholeheartedly. And promptly, too. 

Not as a bargaining chip, not just to diffuse the situation, not just to let your partner hear what they want to hear. No, but genuinely instead. 

Let me tell you about my friend Clare. She’s had a streak of less-than-nice (this is putting it lightly) partners before finally finding a man who knows how to love her right, including how to apologize when he’s done her wrong.

Her healthy relationship now made her realize just how much disrespect she let pass in her previous relationships. 

I think, like Clare, a lot of us don’t get to see how bad things are until we’re away from that situation.

After all, red flags are only clear to see when the rose-tinted glasses come off. 

7) “I love spending time with you”

It’s true that actions speak louder than words, but this doesn’t mean that words have no volume. 

So, if you enjoy your partner’s presence, say so. If you wish to spend more time with them, say so. 

“Words or actions” should not be options. It’s not one or the other. They should be used in conjunction. 

Words and actions.

8) “Do you want solutions or comfort?”

I can’t remember where I first heard of this phrase, but it stuck to me like glue. 

“Do you want solutions or comfort?” 

Personally, I find it brilliant. It’s so simple and to the point. It lessens the chance of unsolicited advice. It lessens the chance of crossing a line.

It also encourages speaking up. 

You’re setting a healthy standard in your relationship if you communicate with your partner, especially in moments of distress. 

It might be romantic to think that our partners will know exactly what we need at every waking moment, but reality proves otherwise.

There are times when we forget that our partners are not mind readers. This isn’t about being known by them, this isn’t about knowing you enough to order the exact way you modify your coffee. 

This is about knowing how to love you the way you want to be loved, especially in moments when you need it most. 

So, solutions or comfort?

9) “I trust you”

Trust should be a given in any relationship, whether romantic or otherwise. It’s a minimum.  

The start of this Forbes article about trust says this, “There are just a few elemental forces that hold our world together. The one that’s the glue of society is called trust. Its presence cements relationships by allowing people to live and work together, feel safe and belong to a group.”

It’s an invisible string that ties us. It allows us to connect, it allows us to grow within our relationships. 

It makes or breaks relationships, too.

Betrayal is a hard feeling to get over. The betrayal of trust can break a person.

There’s trust to be exercised in moments of distress, excitement, and despair. There should be trust in moments of love, too.

There is trust in moments of rest. Of knowing your partner will hold down the fort.

There is trust to be nurtured in relationships. 

10) “I’m proud of you”

And lastly, “I am proud of you.”

You wouldn’t ever know the gravity of this phrase until you say it to someone who really needs it. 

And it’s a healthy standard, you know? To be vocal about being proud of your partner. For their achievements, for what they overcome, or for who they are. 

To show your support in a heartfelt way they could hear. 

It might be a small thing to say, but it could mean the world to someone who needs to hear it. 

Final thoughts 

Love is work. And the healthy kind of love is the kind that constantly chooses to do right by their partner. 

That could feel like hard work to someone who does not want it. 

That’s an oversimplification of something complex and tricky. Love is tough to navigate and one has to have that need to navigate it well. 

Because like most things that are worth it, it takes a lot of effort. Even this list is a testament to love needing conscious and consistent decisions to do good.

Healthy standards in a relationship are something that most of us strive for, who wouldn’t want a relationship that thrives on love, respect, and trust? 

And it takes guts to want it. And even more guts to consistently work for it. 

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