• Austin STRONG: RBC

The SIX Steps to a STRONG Relationship

Updated: Aug 21, 2019

By Kristal DeSantis, M.A., LMFT


The basis of the STRONG Model of Relationships is based on six simple principles which work together to make a relationship S.T.R.O.N.G.

1) Safety

Having a sense of safety and security is a very important factor in a strong relationship.

A strong relationship will feel like a safe place to express your feelings, needs, wants, quirks, and emotions without fear of what the results might be.

Being in a relationship where both partners feel equally safe will also engender a secure attachment bond between you and your partner.




2) Trust

Having trust in your partner, and knowing that they also trust in you is a fundamental building block of a strong relationship.

Too many relationships are plagued by mistrust which leads to partners choosing self-protection and division rather than unity and cooperation.

In a relationship with mutual trust, partners can feel that sense of emotional safety by knowing that their partner has their back, which will also lead to...

3) Respect

A respect-filled relationship creates an environment that is conducive to love and understanding.

Conflict in a relationship can be stressful, but the presence of mutual respect means that there will always be boundaries to your speech and behavior even when you don’t always agree.

Having respect for your partner and being respected by your partner shows that you are both equal contributors in the success of your relationship.

4) Openness

Change is inevitable in life. People will grow as they gain new experiences, go through losses, and attain new insights.

Changes can be positive or negative, simple or life-changing, and a strong relationship is one in which you are able to share those changes and self-discoveries with your partner.

Openness and Honesty in a relationship is crucial to ensure that you continue to grow together instead of apart.

5) Nurturing

In a strong relationship nurturing means that both partners care for and support each other, both in the success of the relationship and in pursuit of their individual dreams and goals .

Having a nurturing and supportive foundation in a relationship means that when one partner succeeds, they both succeed.

The strongest relationships are the ones in which both partners are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.

6) Generosity

Being generous with your partner means to allow your partner the room to be imperfect, even as they allow you the same.

In a generous relationship partners will give each other the benefit of the doubt, patience, love, and understanding when mistakes are made or feelings are hurt.

In the context of a strong relationship, generosity towards your partner is the opposite of criticism and demanding impossible standards of perfection.

There are many ways to have STRONG relationships in your life. Whether they be with romantic partners, family members, friends, or even co-workers; just remember the SIX components and start building those STRONG relationships!

To see the full STRONG Model as an infographic or to hear it explained, click here.

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Kristal DeSantis, M.A., LMFT is the Founder/Clinical Director of Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center; Creator of The STRONG Relationship Model; President-Elect of the Austin Association for Marriage and Family Therapists, Texas Certified Premarital Education Provider, and Guardian Ad Litem volunteer with CASA of Travis County.

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