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.

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A healthy relationship:
 Mutual Respect
 Appreciates one for “who” we are as individuals
 Listens and adapts when one is uncomfortable
 Doesn’t challenge boundaries
 Trust
 Doesn’t get angry when partner talks to other people
 May feel jealous at times, but talks about those feelings
Honesty
 Always truthful and doesn’t tell “little white lies” to cover things up
Support
 Supports one another during both good and bad times
Fairness/Equality
 Equal give and take in the everyday decisions
 Spends time equally with one another’s friends and family
Separate Identities
 Has own lives- friends, family, hobbies, sports, etc.
Good Communication
 Speaks honestly and openly to avoid misunderstanding
 Gives space and time to think things over before talking things through
 Patience
 Relationship grows over time in stages: positive self-image, attraction, casual friendship, close friendship, intimate friendship, and mature love

 

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An unhealthy relationship:
Jealousy and Fear
 Becomes mistrusting and suspicious
 Possessive and Controlling Behavior
 Keeping secrets and hiding actions
Verbal Criticisms
 You may feel toxic shame, guilt, and a loss of esteem and competence
Social Isolation
 You may have fewer friends and spend all your time with your partner
Violent Behavior
 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
Broken Promises
 You may always apologize or hear “it will never happen again”
Sexual Abuse
 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.