Today at the SafeSpace office we received two boxes full of booklets about healthy relationships, and we are all quite excited about them. Though these particular booklets are aimed at teens and young adults, it’s important for people of all ages to understand what makes for a healthy relationship and what habits can lead to being in an unhealthy relationship.
We engage in all kinds of relationships, every single day. Some of these relationships are platonic, like with our friends, coworkers, and classmates. Others are familial, like with parents and siblings. Some of us engage in romantic relationships with partners, date-mates, girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses, etc. No matter what kind of relationship we engage in, it is important to know what it means for the relationship to be healthy or unhealthy.
Healthy relationships rely on three main elements: trust, communication, and mutual respect. Without these three building blocks, people in relationships are prone to jealousy, misunderstanding, and negative feelings.
With all close relationships, it is important that you trust one another. If you trust someone, you can confide in them and feel comfortable sharing things about yourself. Trust leads to open and honest communication, which is another important aspect of a healthy relationship. If something is bothering you but you don’t feel comfortable expressing your feelings, you are more likely to hold in the negative emotions. Not only does this not solve the original problem, but it could also breed resentment and anger which lead to even more problems like passive-aggression and arguing.
Both trust and open, honest communication are essential to healthy relationships, and neither are possible without mutual respect. It is essential that all people in a relationship acknowledge one another’s humanity, individuality, and personal needs. No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. But knowing that you are cared for and respected regardless of any shortcomings makes it easier to address problems and insecurities that may arise.
Another essential aspect of any relationship is consent. Consent is often associated with sexual and romantic relationships, and is emphasized most in the context of intimacy. However, consent is important in any relationship, whether it’s platonic, familial, or sexual. Consent just means that you have someone’s permission before you make a decision or take an action that affects them. This could mean that you ask your friend’s permission before you hug them or offer them other kinds of physical comfort. It may mean that you ask whether it’s okay to share a piece of information about your friend with someone else. Getting consent is an important way to check in with a friend or partner before you cross a boundary.
In any relationship, it is also nice to be reminded that you are valued and cared for. If you feel as though you are in a healthy, loving relationship with friends or partners, make sure they know you appreciate them. Every once in awhile it is good to send a text, write a note, and/or thank them in person for supporting you and being present in your life.
If you ever feel unsafe in your relationship or need support, please reach out to SafeSpace. Our advocates are available Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can call 802.863.0003, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or just walk in. We are here for you.
- Alanna Moriarty, Blogging and Social Media Intern