7 Keys to Good Loving

When it comes to relationships, there are a number of ways to wake up to an unhealthy situation, metaphorically speaking. You can be cooed gently to consciousness by your lover or driven to open your eyes by the clang of life’s alarm bells (usually with the message: what-the-actual-fuck-don’t-you-think-it’s-time-for-a-change?).

Or you could wake up to a bucket of water in your face.

I seem to prefer to wait for the latter. Because, as far as love is concerned, apparently that’s how I roll.
Who needs to heed gentle alarm bells?

See, I have trouble deciphering if a relationship is healthy for me or not. I usually end up hanging out in situations that suck, only leaving when it’s 100% clear that absolutely EVERY single one of my needs is NOT being met and I’m a sniveling little heap of poo.

I can really take martyr to new levels of meepishness.


The other day, I met my bucket of water in the form of a shrink-type dude, Dan, who deals with addictions – including that most nebulous of terms, love addiction. We’re sitting around talking relationships, when he pulls out Dr Nakken’s 7 Keys to a Healthy Relationship.

I’ll share his list and my take on it here, ‘cause I think it’s super helpful if you’re like me and need an instruction manual on how to take your emotional self seriously and make connections with people who do the same.

So, are you in a healthy relationship? Am I? Let’s take a look.


You feel safe with your partner. That means physically and emotionally. You don’t feel defensive or attacked; there’s no passive aggressive communication and you don’t have to walk on eggshells.

This doesn’t mean your mate agrees with you all the time; it means that your opinions and feelings are given space and recognition. The first step in this, though, is being able to validate yourself.

For someone to really hear you means they don’t try to talk over you, listen while you speak and remember what you’re saying.


Your partner encourages you and provides positive feedback on matters and projects that are important to you.

Someone must want to make you a priority in their lives – not THE priority, but certainly A priority. You’re not just a stage prop in the production of their lives.

It’s delicious to be made to feel special. How you and your partner treat each other is one of the things that differentiates your intimate relationship from a friendship.

This can mean different things to different people, but I’d like to think of this more like compromise – there has to be equal investment into and change made for a relationship. One person giving everything while the other one takes is called vampirism or, in some cases, abusive.

So there you have it. How does your relationship stack up against that checklist? Dan made a point of saying that lipservice doesn’t count – these 7 Keys need to be things your partner – and you – actually do. They’re all actions; doing words, like ‘love’.

Don’t do them and you’ll be a sitting duck for that bucket of water eventually.

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