For young people, dating relationships are new and exciting uncharted territory. What does a healthy relationship mean, exactly? What skills should young people work on together with their dating partner? And what makes a relationship unhealthy or abusive?
Communication in a Healthy Relationship
More than anything, communication is essential to building any healthy relationship. The first step is making sure both partners are on the same page about the relationship, and understand each other’s expectations. Disagreements are a natural part of any relationship, but compromising and resolving conflicts in a fair and rational way will help you both listen to each other and agree on something that satisfies both.
Boundaries in a Healthy Relationship
Respecting each other’s privacy is a big part of building healthy boundaries. Neither partner has to share everything, including who they were hanging out with or where they’ve been. Both partners should feel free to share this information or not. Moreover, both partners should allow for time and space away from each other. When two partners are constantly together, it doesn’t allow any room for the relationship to breathe. It’s healthy to spend time apart and will benefit the relationship!
Boundaries are not designed to make a partner feel “trapped” in a relationship. On the contrary, they’re set so both partners can feel more free to do things they want and spend time with others. It’s actually more trusting to set boundaries and agree to them than it is to stipulate or impose restrictions on the relationship, because boundaries express what makes both partners feel comfortable.
Respect in a Healthy Relationship
Being in a relationship means showing your partner respect. Your partner’s feelings, emotions, desires, and wants have value. The bottom line is, mutual respect is imperative in maintaining a healthy relationship with anyone.
Both partners should show the other respect in a variety of ways by listening to the other’s ideas, understanding what boundaries are being set, and offering support and encouragement. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down!
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
Both partners should be willing to talk openly about their problems. Neither side should resort to yelling, calling each other names, using the silent treatment, making demands or threats, or manipulating one into what the other wants.
In addition, both partners should respect the boundaries set in the relationship. A dating partner should not forbid another from seeing a certain person or group of people, demand to know passwords to email or social networking sites, or check in at all hours of the day.
These kinds of behaviors are considered unhealthy, because they are about one partner exerting power and control over another to get what they want. Abusive behaviors like possessiveness, jealousy, manipulation, isolation, insults, temper tantrums, yelling, and physical threats like pushing or pulling hair are not okay.
Remember, healthy relationships are based on respect, open communication, and setting boundaries. They are not based on power and control.
Everyone deserves a healthy a relationship! If you have questions or want to talk to someone about your relationship, call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522 to speak to a peer advocate.