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Healthy Relationships

How Do I Know if My Relationship is Healthy?

This is a question that should be asked in any relationship, not just romantic relationships. Our relationships should be authentic, unconditional, supportive, and nurturing. Sometimes we have such a strong desire to be in relationships that we choose relationships that may not meet our needs, but may provide short-term benefits. The information provided below is intended to help you think about the kinds of relationships you have and offer some general guidelines. If you are in a relationship that is physically or emotionally abusive, we urge you to seek counseling for support. We also encourage you to seek therapy if you observe a pattern of unhealthy relationships.

What is Important for a Healthy Relationship?

Knowing Yourself

  • Know who you are (how do you interact with others, what are your fears, what gives you joy, what motivates you, what do you like/dislike)
  • Know how your experiences have shaped you and how you view others (how has my family influenced how I interact in relationships)
  • Know what and who is important to you
  • Know how to express yourself in a healthy way
  • Know your purpose (what are your goals and aspirations)
  • Decide what is comfortable for you (there will be a lot of temptation, but you ultimately know what feels right for you)

Learning How to Be a Good Friend

  • Learn how to listen (sometimes we just need to be heard, and do not want our friends to "fix it")
  • Learn how to encourage others and give compliments
  • Invest time and energy into having a good friendship
  • Incorporate balance and set good boundaries with friends (you cannot be all things to all people all the time)
  • Learn how to express your feelings without being attacking

Knowing Your Partner/Friend

  • Get to know her/his values and interests
  • Identify what you both have in common and how you differ
  • Find ways to affirm and celebrate each other in your relationship
  • Identify ways you want the relationship to grow as you change. Find opportunities to nurture that growth
  • Spend time together that provides opportunities to enhance each other's strengths

Knowing that Time Apart is Needed

  • Have time outside of the relationship to replenish yourself
  • Negotiate spending time with others and communicate in a way that allows your partner/friend to feel secure about the bond that you have
  • Spend time learning about things that you can bring back to the relationship to stimulate conversation or social activities that you have not tried together
  • Spend time with others who support your relationship and can contribute to growth in your relationship

Understand the Difference between Intimacy & Sex

  • Learn how to talk about feelings of attraction and sexual desires in healthy ways
  • Understand that intimacy is a spiritual connection and is not related to lust
  • Intimacy takes time to develop and needs to be nourished
  • Practice being intimate without that intimacy leading to sex
  • Learn how to communicate about sexual needs and how each partner's expectations and experiences may be different

Common Relationship Pitfalls

  • Insecurities
  • Control issues
  • Selfishness
  • Mind-reading
  • Hooking up to get intimacy needs met when you are really seeking a relationship
  • Bringing in the emotional baggage of past hurtful relationships and the limitations of family and peers
  • Having an unrealistic expectation of a partner or future partner
  • Staying in relationships because you perceive them to be "comfortable," "safe," or because you "don't want to be alone"