4 Essential Qualities Of Healthy Relationships (And How They'll Make Yours Last)

Photo: getty
4 Essential Qualities Of Healthy Relationships (And How They'll Make Yours Last)

It may come as a surprise to you that there are 4 qualities that set the destiny of every relationship but by the time you have finished reading, you will recognize them in yourself and understand why past relationships have gone as they did and why present relationships are going as they are.

So what are the 4 qualities of healthy relationships?

  1. Sincerity
  2. Availability
  3. Interest
  4. Cooperativeness

RELATED: Couples Who Share These 8 Core Values Have The Happiest, Healthiest Relationships

I'm going to explain each of them and show how they work together so you can have a healthy relationship:

1. Sincerity

Sincerity is being true to your word and true to yourself. That means, not only keeping your word but only giving your word if you feel right with yourself, doing so.

I understand that there are situations where you feel compelled to give your word on something. If you feel compelled, you can't be sincere about it.

Sincerity is not, "being really persuasive", or being really emotional about something. Sincerity is a condition of alignment between thoughts, feelings, and actions — without internal conflict, misgivings, or second-guessing. It's being true to yourself.

2. Availability

Availability is being present — not just in some psychological sense, but also physically present. It's being present to being seen, heard, and felt.

Again, I understand that there are situations where you feel compelled to make yourself available.

If you feel compelled to make yourself available, you're not wholehearted about it — and if you're not wholehearted about it, you're not really available.

Being available is not merely being available in some nominal way, like, "Call me, anytime." Being available is an emotional and physical state. It's being capable of listening and being honest.

Lying and deception are forms of unavailability. So are breaking one's word — our first hint at how these qualities work, together.

3. Interest

Interest is having an attraction to a situation, person, subject, or thing. Interest may be feigned, but you know the difference. If it takes effort to "stay interested", you're not really interested.

Again, I understand that there are times when you are not really interested in something, but you force yourself to stay with it. Sometimes, necessity is a factor. Just don't confuse that with interest.

Being interested is a form of, "eros" — being strangely attracted to something. It's unreasonable. If you're interested for "a reason," there's a "should" in there, somewhere, rather than that you simply "are interested."

Sometimes, you feel wrong being interested in something or someone. That's too bad, for you — not because you're interested, but because you feel wrong, about it. Anyway, you're not really in a quandary. If you take into account all four of the qualities, in yourself and in the other, you can be pretty clear about the situation.

Sometimes, you need to dig a little deeper to sift out the "should" from the "I am."

(At the end of this piece, I provide a power-tool for that kind of excavation — a very powerful power tool. Are you interested?")

4. Cooperativeness

Cooperativeness is "co" ("with") and "operativeness" ("doing-ness"). If you're doing something with someone, you two are cooperating. If you're on a date, with someone, you're cooperating, at least as far as having gotten together.

If, on the other hand, one of you is not really interested, not really available, or not really sincere — it's a bad date or "date over" or "marriage over."

Again, I understand that, at times, you have to cooperate under those conditions. Maybe your boss (or partner) has asked you to do something you're not really into, at that moment. You may go through the motions, out of necessity. Just don't confuse that with cooperativeness.

It isn't that; it's, "compliance." "Thank you for your cooperation," is something generally said when you did something you didn't really want to do.

Cooperation is whole-hearted; otherwise, conflicting motivations creep in and spoil the experience. Which kind of cooperation would you want in a relationship?

RELATED: How To Have A Healthy Relationship That Lasts — 18 Tips From Happy Couples

How do they work together?

By now, you've already started to see that, but I want to be thorough and show you how, for a relationship of any kind to be successful, all four need to be in line and working synergistically. The word for that is, "integrity" or "authenticity."

I'm going to present pairs of these four, all of them. You may take a moment with each pair and experience, "the light going on", as you suddenly feel them unite (integrate).

There are six aligned pairings:

  • Sincerely available
  • Sincerely interested
  • Sincerely cooperative
  • Interested availability
  • Interested in cooperating
  • Available to cooperate

And, of course, the "truth standards":

  • Sincerely sincere
  • Interestedly interested
  • Cooperatively cooperative
  • Available to being available

Any resistance to these pairings reveals "where you're at" in relationships. It reveals your character to yourself.

The Standard of Clarity: Non-Alignment in Relationship

Just to make sure you understand, at the level of feeling, I'm going to contrast each of the pairings with its opposite. (I did this with a couple of examples, earlier.)

  1. Insincerely available (Dishonest)
    Sincerely unavailable (Honesty)
    Insincerely unavailable (Hesitancy)
  2. Insincerely interested (Dishonesty)
    Sincerely uninterested (Honest)
    Insincerely uninterested (Hiding Feelings)
  3. Insincerely cooperative (Sabotage)
    Sincerely uncooperative (Antagonism)
    Insincerely uncooperative (Self-sabotage)
  4. Interested but unavailable (Prior commitment)
    Uninterested but available (Noncommittal mediocrity)
    Uninterested unavailability (Disdain)
  5. Interested but uncooperative (Reserve)
    Uninterested cooperation (Obligation)
    Uninterested uncooperativeness (Neglect)
  6. Unavailable to cooperate (Avoidance/Hiding)
    Available but uncooperative (Contrariness)
    Unavailable-y uncooperative (Refusal)

And of course, the "standards of deception":

  • Insincerely sincere
  • Uninterestedly interested
  • Uncooperatively cooperative
  • Unavailable for being available

How do you apply these to relationships?

We meet in various relationships, in many areas and ways: work, love, sex, business. You can apply the pairings of the four qualities to any area of life and to any incident or situation.

Casual Relationships

A mix of the various aligned and unaligned combinations produces casual or superficial relationships. Consider Facebook "friends". Consider co-workers and people you encounter in business.

Consider any casual relationship. Look at it in terms of the pairings. Look at the pairings in yourself and in the other person. Look at words and look at actions; look at whether the actions are consistent with the words. Look at the activities you share. They are revealing.

Close Relationships

Closeness occurs when all of the four qualities are active and integrated (all pairings are present). To the degree that the four qualities are present in their aligned form (first set of six), to that degree, we have closeness and it feels like closeness.

However, when we are close in one area (as in, say, having gone through a growth experience, a disaster or a big success, together), we may or may not actually be close in many areas.

If we feel close in one area, we may expect that closeness to apply to all areas of life, but what has developed is an untested, superficial trust factor that only potentially leads to deep friendship or intimacy.

Such relationships are "relatively" close and are only "relatively" revealing — revealing of misalignments-in-relationship. The areas of misalignment are the sense of distance between individuals.

Intimate Relationships and Soulmates

Intimates and soulmates share alignment, not just in many areas, but in fundamental areas, in deep areas of self. We have an integrity that has stood the test of many circumstances.

Intimacy especially reveals our misalignments. The difference between "relative" closeness and intimacy is the willingness to grow and change under the influence of the other person — and the willingness (and ability) to change, where misalignments exist.


Sometimes, the pairings of the four, in ourselves and in others, mismatch in different aspects of our lives, so that it seems that we feel differently about the relationship than they do.

When that happens, check for a mismatch between words and actions — both in our self and in the other. There's a break.

Sometimes, we override our feelings; sometimes, we are in denial.

The overriding of feelings and denial lead to imbalances that may occur in any area of life — a break of integrity that can lead to a breakup.

Wake up. Clean up. Grow up. Show up. Are you interested?

RELATED: Couples In The Healthiest Relationships All Show Their Partners Love In One Specific Way

Lawrence Gold is a Wellness Coach and certified Hanna somatic educator.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!