If someone in your circle is mentally healthy, there’s an excellent chance that being around him or her will benefit your mental health as well. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about a date or a mate, a friend or a colleague.
Emotionally healthy people make light work of relationships and bring out the best in us. As we all know, the opposite is also true: mentally unhealthy people are challenging to be around, make for rocky associations, and cause us undue agitation.
Of course, someone simply having emotional health will not automatically enhance yours. For long-term, close relationships, people need to have values and personality traits that mesh well.
You can’t go wrong in seeking people who embrace the following qualities, which exemplify good mental health:
7 Signs That Someone Is Good for Your Mental Health
1.) They ask you questions about yourself and listen emphatically to your answers.
For starters, people need to have empathy, or the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. This involves trying to understand what you’re going through, and acknowledging it.
They don’t need to have experienced similar situations or feelings. In fact, they might react differently than you do in any given situation. However, they must be able to express recognition of what you’re feeling. They may move toward understanding by asking appropriate questions and/or by trying to imagine what you’re experiencing.
Empathy is not the same as you describing a frightening experience in Mexico, and a friend relates that she had one in France (unless you feel that what she’s describing mirrors what you were saying or feeling).
If someone listens actively, (i.e. taking in what you’re saying, asking relevant questions to understand your experience), they probably are exhibiting empathy. You know this because it makes you feel understood – one of the most wondrous feelings in the world.
2.) They talk comfortably about their inner world and can be emotionally vulnerable.
Although empathy is important, it’s not enough to enhance your mental health. You also want someone to be able to share his or her experiences and open up to you. That’s how people bond.
No matter how understanding someone is, we feel more comfortable around people who express what’s going on inside them. Someone who simply asks questions often leaves us wondering what they’re hiding, or why they didn’t share much about themselves. Even if they seem to get us, we feel best when we can also make connections.
Of course, folks open up at different rates. Just because someone is shy or cautious doesn’t mean he or she isn’t mentally healthy. Some folks simply take a while to warm up. Other people want to know that you’re interested in finding out more about them. They need to be invited to reveal their more tender emotions.
Whether opening up happens quickly or slowly, you’re bound to feel good when you have an opportunity to accept and give validation. This is what drives us toward intimacy.
3.) They’re honest, accountable, are able to admit their mistakes, and follow through on what they say they’ll do.
We all need to be able to trust and depend on others. That’s what makes us feel safe and secure.
When this happens, we can relax and be ourselves. People who do what they say they’re going to do create the kind of attachment that helps us let our guard down. We can count on them because we know we won’t be blind-sided or betrayed.
Too many people often get attracted to folks who can’t say they’re wrong or refuse to apologize. This can create the perception that if the other person isn’t wrong, then we must be. This can take a huge toll on our mental health. Not being able to admit mistakes should be a deal-breaker in choosing friends or partners.
Being in a relationship with someone who can say, “oops, my bad” or “my fault” gives you a sense that you’re not defective—at least not any more than the next person. This goes a long way toward contributing to a strong sense of well-being.
When you’re with someone you trust, you can display the least pretty facets of yourself and be confident that they won’t be heading for the hills. That’s because they’re also showing their imperfect side.
4.) They can manage their emotions effectively most of the time.
Everyone loses it once in a while. I know I do. That’s what makes us human. We feel sad, grumpy, angry, bummed out, blue, hurt, apathetic, or stuck in our own sense of righteousness or injustice. But people with good mental health will recognize that this happens to all of us. He or she will try to be curious, not judgmental, when it does.
They have self-compassion – and they sympathize with you when you occasionally get into a funk. Being around someone like this makes us feel that we don’t need to be perfect, walk on eggshells, be frightened of rejection, or abandonment.
We feel best when we live in predictable environments. But these environments also need to be peaceful. If people are generally kind and caring, then we can handle their occasional deviation from the norm.
We know it may happen. But they will soon be their old, lovable selves again. This reinforces our sense of security and our belief that we have chosen a life-enhancing relationship.
5.) They take good care of themselves mentally, emotionally, and physically.
When others take good care of themselves, we don’t need to do it for them. We are free to pursue our own self-care. This is vital in any kind of meaningful relationship, at home or at work.
If you’re constantly trying to prop up people to improve their physical or mental health, you’re too likely to neglect your own. You’ll soon resent all the energy that’s flowing outward and not inward.
Being around folks who live a healthy lifestyle often makes us want to live one, too. Sometimes, they become role models. Other times, we model good self-care for them and they show their appreciation.
They don’t resent the time we spend on effective self-care, because they understand its necessity. They wouldn’t want it any other way. People who take good care of themselves want to be with others who do the same. This increases pleasure and decreases problems – both individually and in the relationship.
6.) They are comfortable being alone, or being with people.
Being with someone who enjoys being alone or with others, gives us a chance to be similarly well-balanced. If they give us space to do our thing, we want to reciprocate and give them space to do theirs.
This doesn’t mean that someone can’t be mentally healthy as a basic introvert or extrovert. It does mean that they understand that both qualities are valuable in a healthy relationship.
They will try to be accommodating whenever possible. When people can enjoy both alone and social time, it gives a relationship room to breathe. This nourishes authenticity and respect.
Someone who enjoys spending time alone, assuming it’s used for healthy activities, is often someone with deep passions. Similarly, someone who values social connections is generally a person who has good interpersonal skills. Both sets of traits make for a relationship that fosters interdependence.
7.) They can seek, accept, and give help.
We all need to be comfortable with giving and receiving help – because one is not better than the other.
There are times when we absolutely need to do things on our own for various reasons. Other times, we must reach out for help to survive, or to thrive. We can only do both if we’re okay with depending on others as well as going at it alone.
When we’re with someone who is comfortable with these views, it affords us the opportunity to follow our needs. We don’t have to ask for help so that someone can feel needed. Nor do we need to refuse it because they might feel burdened.
We feel best when we know that someone will be there for us without judging us; that we won’t be seen as weak when we need support. We need people who will allow us to try something on our own – and not foist their help on us without asking.
Generally, people in good mental health are comfortable with themselves. They don’t need to be the fixer or the ‘fixee’. This gives us the flexibility to not fall into choosing one role or the other.
Being with someone who makes us feel good doesn’t mean that he or she has excellent mental health – or that it will necessarily enhance ours. Initially, people can make us feel good through infatuation, flattery, or sexual attraction.
We only find out more about a person over time and in varied situations. When someone is good for your mental health, you’ll feel better the more time you spend together.