Let’s agree to disagree, because healthy relationships take work

Pair_of_mandarin_ducks Wikimedia commons.jpgABOVE: Mandarin Ducks are a symbol of success and longevity in intimate relationships. What is their secret? PHOTO FRANCIS C. FRANKLIN WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

By Warren Heggarty

Measure the health of an intimate relationship not so much by how you always agree with one another, but by how you deal with your disagreements. 

At the beginning of relationships, (especially a romantic one!) people tend to go out of their way to please one another, so conflict may not arise. However, over time, disagreement and conflict will become inevitable.  

In healthy and respectful relationships, people accept one another’s differences and try to understand the other’s point of view, even if it means ‘agreeing to disagree.’ It can be unhealthy if a person always tries to prove the other person wrong or change their beliefs or opinions. (Braun, 2018)

Accepting our differences

Accepting differences can be difficult for some people, but it is necessary in intimate relationships. And intimate relationships are necessary for flourishing in life. 

According to Degges-White (2017), the philosopher Aristotle ‘emphasized was that to be truly happy in life, we must have healthy intimate relationships; we are only able to Flourish Australia if there are others in our lives for whom we care. It is not enough simply to know the faces or the names of your neighbors, baristas, or colleagues. We must endeavor to connect and bond with others. Intimate relationships are the glue that often keeps us – or our worlds – from falling apart.” (Degges-White, 2017)

Signs of healthy intimacy

Questions to consider

We tend to think of intimate relationships as romantic ones, but you could also include close family and friendships. The 6 essential traits of healthy intimate relationships according to Degges-White are

1. Meaning

2. Growing as a person, growing as a couple/ as family/ as friends. An intimate relationship is one that brings out the best in both people.

3. Shared Goals

4. Mutual give and take 

5. Being able to express our true natures

6. Engaging deeply in life and the world around us

To gauge whether a relationship could be classed as both intimate and healthy, Degges-White suggests thinking about the following questions:

1. Does this relationship encourage me to think beyond the immediate?

2. Am I better person than I was before the relationship began?

3. Do I recognize the “us” when I think of my partner, or do I focus on what “I” want or “she” wants?

4. Am I willing to give what I want to get from this relationship?

5. Do I feel safe letting myself be vulnerable with this person?

6. Do I feel more alive when I am with this person? (Degges-White, 2017)


Because healthy intimate relationships are necessary for human Flourish Australiaing, a lack or even fear of intimacy can be a major problem for some people. Lisa Fritscher suggests that we need to be willing to accept a degree of uncertainty in our lives. 

‘Those who fear intimacy’ she says ‘ultimately fear the consequences of a relationship that turns sour. It’s important to embrace the fact that there are no guarantees in life or in human relationships. Every connection with another person is ultimately a gamble.’ 

This may seem ironic, given that ‘social relationships are a basic driving goal of human existence.’ (Fritscher, 2019) Yet a good sign that something is amiss in a relationship is the use of ‘controlling behaviour,’ a sign of a lack of trust…or perhaps a fear of the uncertainty that is inevitably part of an intimate relationship. 


Braun, K. (2018, May). Healthy Relationships. Retrieved from Women’s Health Queensland:


Degges-White, S. (2017, February 8). 6 Essential Traits of Healthy Intimate Relationships. Healthy relationships lead to a healthy life but they take work. Retrieved from Psychology Today:


Fritscher, L. (2019, March 20). Understanding a fear of intimacy: signs, causes, coping. Retrieved from VeryWellMind:



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