Relationship 101 Part 2: Love Shouldn’t Hurt
If you were to define your relationship how would you define it? Is it wonderful, romantic, fun, or fulfilling? Or is it stressful, painful, or intense? Do you desire things to be different? Do you think that if you just looked better, acted differently or did things better your relationship would be better? Have you taken the time to evaluate your relationship?
The questions above are worth taking the time to consider!
Are there any red flags or is there a knot growing in the pit of your stomach? If you are still unsure, use this relationship 101 checklist to confirm if your relationship is unhealthy and/or abusive.
- I had more friends and my grades were better before I began dating my partner.
- I am careful to control or hide any actions so my partner doesn’t get angry.
- Before we started dating, I was more outgoing and involved with my family, sports, hobbies, and/or religious activities.
- When I am alone, I get a lot of texts and calls from my partner checking up on me and my whereabouts. If I don’t respond, my partner gets angry.
- My boyfriend/girlfriend said “I love you” very early in the relationship.
- My partner is aggressive in other areas of life: throws or breaks things when angry, bangs fist for expression, and/or smashes walls or windshields.
- I feel wrong, stupid, crazy, or inadequate. I apologize a lot. I’m never good enough.
- I have been pushed against a wall, kicked, pulled, or hit.
- My boyfriend/girlfriend has threatened to kill or hurt himself/herself if I break up with him/her.
- I have bruises and I feel nervous about explaining them.
- My partner has a bad home life: sexual abuse or physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, verbal put downs, and/or parents who abuse substances.
- My partner drinks or uses drugs.
- Since we started dating, I have a lot of secrets I don’t share with friends or family.
- My face or chest has been grabbed by my partner.
- I receive a lot of advice from my partner about my friends, hairstyle, or clothes.
- I have been pressured to have sexual activity with my partner.
- I have been touched sexually without my permission.
- My partner calls me unkind names and/or criticizes me in front of others.
If you said yes to any of these you may be caught in a “Un-Love Triangle” which is abusive.
Unhealthy/Abusive relationships DO NOT get better over time.
Sexual Activity DOES NOT make abuse go away.
Getting Married DOES NOT make abuse go away.
You CAN’T FIX the other person; however, you are 100% responsible for YOUR actions, feelings, and thoughts.
If you think you are in an unhealthy relationship talk to someone, your parents, a friend, a teacher or pastor. Don’t wait, do it quickly. Unhealthy relationships are becoming more of a problem in our society with girls as well as guys. Please keep yourself safe and have a great school year.
For our Relationship 101 Part 1, please click here.
(Adapted from “Is It Love” liveonpoint.org, 2009)
Relationship 101 Part 1
It’s that time of year again; time to start the new school year. You may or may not have all your school supplies; started fall sports or band practice; or are getting settled at college. All of these require important preparations, but let’s take a moment to consider an equally important preparation that is sometimes overlooked – RELATIONSHIPS!
Let’s begin by looking at some characteristics of healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships.
A healthy relationship:
Appreciates one for “who” we are as individuals
Listens and adapts when one is uncomfortable
Doesn’t challenge boundaries
Doesn’t get angry when partner talks to other people
May feel jealous at times, but talks about those feelings
Always truthful and doesn’t tell “little white lies” to cover things up
Supports one another during both good and bad times
Equal give and take in the everyday decisions
Spends time equally with one another’s friends and family
Has own lives- friends, family, hobbies, sports, etc.
Speaks honestly and openly to avoid misunderstanding
Gives space and time to think things over before talking things through
Relationship grows over time in stages: positive self-image, attraction, casual friendship, close friendship, intimate friendship, and mature love
An unhealthy relationship:
Jealousy and Fear
Becomes mistrusting and suspicious
Possessive and Controlling Behavior
Keeping secrets and hiding actions
You may feel toxic shame, guilt, and a loss of esteem and competence
You may have fewer friends and spend all your time with your partner
You may become depressed, hopeless, and have bruises or injuries
You may have thoughts of suicide or fear for your life
Drugs and Alcohol
You may begin using substances as your coping skills breakdown
You may always apologize or hear “it will never happen again”
You may experience unwanted touching and/or kissing
Your partner may force sex by using threats or accusations
(Adapted from “Is It Love” liveonpoint.org, 2009)
In a healthy relationship, your partner wants you to be the best you can be and will encourage and support you. In an unhealthy relationship, it’s all about them and what you do or don’t do for them. Being in a healthy relationship is very important, and a decision you don’t want to rush. You may be tempted to think that you need to be in a relationship because that’s what you are supposed to do. You be the judge of when you’re ready.
As you can see from the list above, sometimes an unhealthy relationship can turn into an abusive relationship. If you find yourself identifying with the examples of an unhealthy relationship, talk to your parents or other adults in your life who have your best interests in mind. Share your thoughts/concerns with them. Get help right away to remove yourself from an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
Lastly, define your dreams and goals and how you are going to achieve them. Don’t let a relationship keep you from your dreams. If anything a boyfriend/girlfriend should encourage and help you achieve those dreams.
If you have concerns or just want to talk to someone about your relationship, contact us by email or call us at (301) 662-5300.
So, just like most guys, I like war movies. Just the other day I was watching “Band of Brothers,” and there is no question it is inspiring. To see the story of real men who risked their lives and faced their foes with courage and valor makes you second guess your own bravery. They were real men.
But, why do I feel that way? Why does there seem to be this deep longing in us men to fight for something or even someone, right? I mean, isn’t that the typical “man” movie? The hero fights off the bad guys and saves the girl. I find myself often wishing I was in their position. I say, “I could do that,” and “I wish I had something to fight for,” or “I can be that hero, but I never get the chance!” I mean, if I had those opportunities I would do everything with courage, and I would never give up. I’d never be lazy, and I would always try hard. Isn’t that right? But, those movies are Hollywood, and real life is boring, monotonous, and there’s definitely no room to be a hero, or is there?
The truth is we were created with a purpose. That desire to live like a hero is in us for a reason. Even more than that, there is an enemy, and there are opportunities to fight for something every day. Hollywood is the real boring story, because it’s fake. It’s a staged script that has only a fraction of the honor and fulfillment that can come from living with purpose. But, we have to figure out what we are fighting for.
One of the most important areas that men need to fight the hardest for is in relationships. So, in your relationship, are you being the hero, are you fighting for it, or are you apathetic? Do you see your relationship with your wife or girlfriend as something worth fighting for? If we don’t, then those relationships will never reach their potential. Essentially, we will end up fighting against our partner instead of fighting together against the things that are really trying to pull us apart.
We’ve got to man up! We’ve got to realize that every day is a battle; every day is a chance to give everything we have and never look back. It’s not enough just to go through the motions. It’s not enough just to enlist in the army. We have to make the choice to fight. We have to get up, jump out of the foxhole, and run towards the enemy, facing towards the danger, heart completely in it. If we give up, it’s over.
Even if you aren’t in a dating relationship, start fighting for her now! Begin to set up boundaries and habits in your life that will help you to be the best husband you can be. If you aren’t committed now, it will be a lot harder to just suddenly start later. The habits you form now will be the habits you bring into your marriage. Fight for her; don’t just take the easy path. The fight you have to go through before and during a relationship is what gives the relationship its value.
What are you fighting for?
You can do it! You have what it takes!
Planning! Some people love to plan, and I am one of those people. I love to make a plan, to think about things before hand and leave out all the guesswork and stress that often accompanies me when I’m unprepared. And while most of us know about planning trips, planning weddings and parties, and the other day to day activities we encounter, do we ever think about planning for our lives?
Have you ever considered taking some time to think hard about who you are, where you are and where you are heading? Believe me, this can be a difficult undertaking and can even be scary at times as we navigate relationships and important decisions, but the benefit of thinking about your actions and decisions beforehand has been invaluable in my own life and could benefit you as well!
Sometimes it’s the hard things in life that, once we do them, bring us the most reward. So what do you need to “plan” this week or this month? What areas of your life are you feeling lost, stressed, or discouraged in? What about the area of relationships and dating? Have you ever thought about relying on something other than your feelings to navigate your romantic relationships? Maybe now is the perfect time to start!
The relationships that we engage in and our decisions regarding issues like sex within those relationships are some of the most personal and life altering decisions we can make! It only makes sense to think carefully about them, to ask for advice, to find good answers to your questions and concerns, and to make some decisions beforehand about how your relationship will operate.
Some of the plans that me and my friends at TurnTable have in regards to relationships is a decision to be abstinent. We’ve decided that for our romantic relationships before we are married, sex is going to be one of those decisions we say no to. Don’t be afraid to take a stand, to live with intention, and to say yes to waiting. The decisions made for your future well-being will always be ones you regret the least!
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Are You Up For The Challenge?
Recently, I participated in a small, community health fair at a local middle school and we had the opportunity to ask questions to the kids who came by about relationships and sex. The kids were interested in the questions and they (usually) gave thoughtful answers. One question that was asked led to a very revealing answer; “Do you think it is possible to NOT have sex before you are married?” They were not prepared for this question. The common reaction was one of shock, “Uh…it’s possible I guess, but…I mean, it’s not really realistic.”
Their reaction made me wonder if these kids had ever actually considered that not having sex of any kind (abstinence) until marriage is an achievable option for their own life or if they instead view sex as an expectation in a relationship. Sure, they’ll list out the reasons to avoid sex and they’ll immediately answer that abstinence is the only way to be sure that you won’t get pregnant or become infected with an STD (they learned all that in their sex education class) but do they realize that this is something actually possible?
Guess what. It is possible! I, for one (now in my twenties), can say that I have never had sex and I have chosen not to until I am married. I’m determined to not let the expectations of the world pressure me into changing my decision. My choice is one that I believe is best for me (now and later on) and a decision that honors my future husband and children as well as God. Living a life of sexual purity by choosing abstinence has taught me strength and patience and has spared me from the physical risks of STD’s and the emotional turmoil that can come with having a relationship that involves sex.
I’m not the only person who has made this choice of abstinence until marriage. I know hundreds of people who can say the very same thing as I have with a smile on their face. Some of these friends have actually had sex before, but they have decided to start anew because they know that it’s not too late to turn around and start living a life of abstinence from here on out—all is not lost! No one said that this is an easy choice—it’s a real challenge and it takes courage—but it’s a challenge that we each accepted since we think that sexual purity is a worthwhile goal. Are you up for the challenge?
Do you think you can consider joining us in our choice to stand up against the expectations of the world around us that pressures us to have sex and instead choose abstinence until marriage as a decision for your own life? If you want this, remember that you are not alone. We can do this together!
So if you have never had sex, let me encourage you to stay true to that commitment. If you are sexually active and are reconsidering this choice, you can do it starting today! Are you up for the challenge? Remember you are not alone-we’re here for you, contact the TurnTable group through our website for support.
One of the most overlooked words in the English language is the word “wait”. Why is it so hard to wait? Well for starters, waiting has the unspoken meaning and reputation of boredom and no action. This could not be further from the truth. Waiting for something takes action and self-control.
Sometimes waiting can be a form of proving yourself and your dedication to what you are striving to become or achieve. Take a job for example. Countless, tedious hours of schooling, and then even more hours of working jobs that barely pay the bills, and for what? Most would say, in pursuit of their dream job. Even though in these seasons of life we seem overly busy and striving, it’s still a form of waiting. We are waiting for the dream job.
Relationships are really no different than waiting for that perfect job. People seem to have a much easier time in working hard for their dream job than in working hard for their relationship dreams. Sadly, an epidemic has begun of refusing to wait for something better than a mediocre life and relationship. No one is perfect, and no one has the power to be so, thus waiting for a “perfect” person is a ridiculous task. However, simply waiting for someone who shares common goals, beliefs and values as yourself will save you sorrow and bless you with joy.
Going back to the example of the ambitious employee, what if this individual was offered a decent job? It pays the bills and allows for a little extra. The job even feels enjoyable at times; however, the next month a job came available unbeknownst to them that would have fit their lifestyle perfectly. This new job was everything that they dreamed about while they were sitting through those never ending classes and gloomy jobs. Sadly, they missed the opportunity because they were focused on making their mediocre job succeed. This employee stopped waiting for the perfect job and focused their entire effort into an average job that took all of their time without making them feel complete. This is not to say that diligence and hard work is an unproductive choice. The employee, under the circumstances made the right decision in working hard. The bottom line is that the employee was not patient. They did not wait for the perfect job.Don’t let your waiting process be a time of sorrow, or confusion. Stay open minded and grounded in who you are and who you can be in God. A relationship is far weightier than a mere career choice. Think about the effort you put into things that really matter to you. Do you do the same for your relationships?
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