Navigating relationships is something all of us do: teens and adults alike. And, we all know it’s not always a bed of roses. I, myself, have had my fair share of failures and few successes. The information I will share with you below is something I wish I would’ve heard a long time ago. It might’ve saved me some heartache and frustration. Hopefully what I’m going to share with you will be helpful and save you some grief when it comes to choosing a partner (boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/friend etc.).
A healthy relationship should make your life better. PERIOD. After all, if a relationship makes your life harder, why be in it? Yes, there will be some conflict on occasion, but for the most part you should feel happier and better than before the relationship started. And, life should be easier because there are two of you to carry this load called life. The key is knowing what you want and deserve and settling for nothing less.
What makes a healthy relationship: listening, being best friends, being proud of each other, and being kind are a few features of a healthy relationship. Are you ok if your partner spends time with others? Do you feel secure? Do you trust each other’s decisions?
Healthy relationships are sometimes hard to come by. A little honesty goes a long way. Can you admit when you’re wrong? Do you feel comfortable in telling your partner the truth even when it’s hard? Having open lines of communication and talking about your feelings even when it’s hard is important. Honesty is always the best policy.
Treating each other equally and fairly is crucial to a successful relationship. Do you take turns or decide together about how to spend your time? Do you both contribute to the effort to make the relationship work? Do you give in on occasion to your partner or is it my way or the highway? Do you both show empathy and compassion for each other? A healthy relationship takes two people who share the same values and are willing to give and take, sometimes more than others, to make the relationship work. A fair relationship doesn’t always mean 50/50. You or your partner may give more sometimes just as well as take more sometimes. It is a balancing act to keep it “equal”.
It’s no fun trying to guess what your partner is thinking or feeling. It is of the utmost importance that the lines of communication stay open. Discussing feelings may be difficult for some, but it is critical that you share them with each other. Otherwise, how will your partner know? Partners need to respect what each other has to say. No put downs or minimizing the feelings or thoughts of what the other has to say. Listening is a huge part of communication, but don’t be afraid to express your needs. It’s only fair if it goes both ways.
If I had known even a fraction of the above suggestions at a younger age, my life would’ve been so different and I might have made better choices when it came to partners. I spent years struggling to find the right person with no directions or guides to follow. To the teens reading this: you are no longer ignorant of what it takes to make a great relationship. Go out there and find one; one that you deserve and can make you happier than before. Adults: you may be like me, maybe you had no clue how to choose a partner that was healthy for you. If this decision is facing you in your adult years, you can use this information to empower yourself and get it right maybe a second, third or even fourth time.
I will be following up next month with how to know when you are in an abusive relationship, how to avoid it, and what to do if you’re in one. Stay tuned!!!