Photo by Tia Walker.
Love is patience; love is happiness; love is respect; love is caring. Love is not controlling; love is not fearful; love is not forceful; love is not insincere. The difference between a healthy and high-risk relationship may seem clear on the surface, but from the inside, it’s not always that easy.
Students may find themselves in unhealthy relationships because they don’t realize the warning signs or are too scared to leave.
“I look back [on the abusive relationship] and there are things that I could have helped prevent,” said Sunshine Mathis, a sophomore psychology major from Hurricane. “[But] I was too scared to.”
People think if the relationship does not consist of physical abuse, then it’s a healthy relationship; but that’s not always the case, said Jamy Dahle, a mental health counselor at Dixie State University’s Health and Counseling Center. An unhealthy relationship includes emotional abuse as well.
Knowing the aspects of a healthy relationship will help people to avoid finding themselves in high-risk relationships. This not only applies to romantic relationships, but friendships as well.
A healthy relationship includes two-way communication where you engage in a respectful tone and feel heard by each other; you can openly communicate without feeling attacked.
“If everyone [is] open about their problems in their relationships, they could work through them,” said Dane Campbell, a junior exercise science major from Prescott, Arizona. “I believe people stay in unhealthy relationships because of lack of communication.”
As a couple, you should move at a comfortable pace; you should feel excited and happy about the relationship and the direction it is moving. You should not be pressured into any dynamic of the relationship, and should not feel apprehensive or uncomfortable.
There should be a high level of trust and honesty. It’s not good if your partner needs to have access to your social media accounts or if you have a joint account because your partner wants to see who you are talking to and why, Dahle said. You are entitled to your privacy without needing to hide anything, and your partner should trust and respect you for that.
Your partner should never violate any personal boundaries. If they cross a boundary you have set, it’s not okay to make excuses for them crossing that boundary, such as, “he was intoxicated and didn’t know what he was doing,” Dahle said.
There should be an equal effort maintained in the relationship. This doesn’t necessarily mean it will always be a 50-50 effort, Dahle said. Some days you take on more than your partner, and other days your partner takes on more than you, but make sure you’re not the one that’s always putting in the most effort.
It is important to have compassion. Even if the thing you may be bothered by doesn’t make sense to him or her, your partner should still make an effort to understand your feelings about the situation.
“If people say, ‘we all make mistakes’ or ‘nobody is perfect’ in defense of their partner on a regular basis, that is a big warning sign,” Dahle said.
It is incredibly important to have independence in a relationship, Dahle said. A relationship consists of two independent people making each other happy, not two people who are co-dependent of each other. Having time together is good, but also make sure to have time alone and with outside friends.
You do not want to find yourself in a relationship where you are isolated from everyone in your life except that one person. It is not healthy to be “attached at the hip” because it takes away your independence. If branching out to your other friendships upsets your partner, and he or she constantly checks up on you while you’re spending time with other people, this could be considered a form of harassment, Dahle said.
Mathis said during her toxic relationship she didn’t have the strength she does now after being helped. She said she has discovered her independence and instead of feeling the need to have a relationship, she wants a relationship to be a bonus on top of her being independent.
“I learned that self-care is super important,” Mathis said. “Because if you can’t love yourself, which at that point I didn’t, then nobody else can truly love you either.”