Many people want healthy relationships in their lives, but defining a healthy relationship can be tricky. Relationships are informed by one’s cultural identity, relationship history, and a range of factors and so they can vary in terms of closeness, purpose, and meaning. Relationships are a necessary part of healthy living, but there is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Relationships, from acquaintances to romances, have the potential to enrich our lives and add to our enjoyment of life. However, these same relationships can cause discomfort, and sometimes even cause harm. While these tips tend to focus on intimate partnerships, relationships can include a variety of types such as: family, friends, professional, mentorship, etc.
Below are some ideas to consider when reflecting on how to achieve healthier relationships in your life.
Communication is a key part to building a healthy relationship. The first step is making sure you both want and expect the same things—being on the same page is very important. The following tips can help you create and maintain a healthy relationship:
- Speak Up. In a healthy relationship, if something is bothering you, it’s best to talk about it instead of holding it in.
- Respect Your Partner. Your partner’s wishes and feelings have value. Let your significant other know you are making an effort to keep their ideas in mind. Mutual respect is essential in maintaining healthy relationships.
- Compromise. Disagreements are a natural part of healthy relationships, but it’s important that you find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Try to solve conflicts in a fair and rational way.
- Be Supportive. Offer reassurance and encouragement to your partner. Also, let your partner know when you need their support. Healthy relationships are about building each other up, not putting each other down.
- Respect Each Other’s Privacy. Just because you’re in a relationship, doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together. Healthy relationships require space.
Creating healthy boundaries is a good way to keep your relationship healthy and secure. By setting boundaries together, you can both have a deeper understanding of the type of relationship that you and your partner want. Boundaries are not meant to make you feel trapped or like you’re “walking on eggshells.” Creating boundaries is not a sign of secrecy or distrust — it’s an expression of what makes you feel comfortable and what you would like or not like to happen within the relationship.
Remember, healthy boundaries shouldn’t restrict your ability to:
- Go out with your friends without your partner.
- Participate in activities and hobbies you like.
- Not have to share passwords to your email, social media accounts or phone.
- Respect each other’s individual likes and needs.
Not all relationships remain healthy and that balance can be difficult to assess when you are connected with someone. A relationship may begin positively and gradually take unhealthier forms. Relationships may fall into problematic patterns without realizing it. Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. In the early stages of an abusive relationship, you may not think the unhealthy behaviors are a big deal. However, possessiveness, insults, jealous accusations, yelling, humiliation, pulling hair, pushing or other negative, abusive behaviors, are — at their root — exertions of power and control. Remember that abuse is always a choice and you deserve to be respected. There is no excuse for abuse of any kind. As stated before, relationships come in a variety of types. Unhealthy relationships and relationship abuse can affect all genders, ethnicities, races, sexuality and sexual preferences.
Possible signs of an unhealthy relationship:
- Your partner gets jealous when you talk to a friend who is viewed as a threat
- Your partner or friend tells you how to dress
- You can’t trust this person and you wonder what this person is doing when they are not with you
- You feel scared or uncomfortable around this person
- Experience yelling or physical violence during an argument
- Notice and unequal control of resources (e.g., food, money, home, car, etc.)
- This person does not like you to be close to other people
- Your partner’s friends are always more important than you
- Have a lack of privacy and may be forced to share everything with the other person
- Your partner pressures you to be sexual with them
- This person often yells at you or calls you names
- This person tries to control or manipulate you
When should I seek professional help for my relationship?
If a partner tries to harm you physically or force you to do something sexually that is a clear sign that the relationship is unhealthy. In that situation, please consider getting help or ending the relationship. Even if the person claims to love you, harm, force or coercion is not love and no one deserves to be hurt or taken advantage of in these ways.
If you are in immediate danger, please contact UW-Platteville Police at 608.342.1584.
Other circumstance may include but are not limited to:
- When you are unhappy in a relationship, but cannot decide if you should accept your unhappiness, try to improve the relationship, or end the relationship
- When you have decided to leave a relationship, but find yourself still in the relationship
- When you think you are staying in the relationship for the wrong reasons, such as fear of being alone or guilt
- If at any point you feel unsafe in your relationship
- Unsure if your relatioship is healthy or unhealthy
If you have questions or concerns, please contact any of the resources in the side panel. University Counseling Services, Student Health Services and Family Advocates can provide complete confidentiality.