If someone grew up watching their parents or other family members act out chronically toxic patterns, then that person may very well come to define those patterns as "normal" and have difficulty understanding the baseline of what a good relationship looks like. Healthy, functional relationships have these characteristics — which apply especially to committed romantic relationships. And when they are missing, it's important to address the problem. Trust Trust is arguably among the most important relationship characteristics.

If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.

Boundaries Each person should express to their partner what they are and are not comfortable with, when it comes to sex life, finances, family and friends, personal space and time.

When partners are chronically impatient with each other, they often create a dynamic of bean-counting and resentment, where they are mentally racking up the "offenses" that the other partner has committed.

Being able to adjust to the ebbs and flows of a partner's moods in day-to-day life — within reason — can instead allow a feeling of being unconditionally loved. Empathy Being willing to take another person's perspective is helpful in so many cases — whether in parenting, being a good neighbor, or even just letting someone merge in front of you on the highway.

But it is arguably most important with the person you've chosen as a partner. Affection and Interest It likely goes without saying that love should be a part of any healthy, committed romantic relationship — in fact, I didn't bother to put that on the main list.

Can you truly put forth the effort to try to understand their perspective, even when you disagree with it? But more subtle than love is the expression of that love in the form of affection and also a genuine interest — a liking of each other.

Much of my professional career has involved speaking, writing, and interpreting research about how to handle relationships that have gone wrong: partnerships that are controlling or toxic, for instance, or where trust has been broken.

I'm often asked how to handle infidelity, betrayal, or emotional upheaval within a relationship — and it can be heartbreaking how widespread those issues tend to be.

This idea also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic” in a new relationship.