Healthy Habits in Relationships

College is a time to make connections both platonic and romantic. If you’ve moved away from home, it’s easy to find yourself seeking comfort in another person. Whether you are single and mingling, in a new relationship, or if you have been in a relationship for a long time, it’s important to make sure it’s a healthy one. According to Breakthecycle.org, an organization that supports young people to build healthy relationships, more than half (57%) of college students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship say it occurred in college. Below are a few traits of a healthy relationship.

Safety. Your partner makes you feel safe in a relationship. You don’t fear that your partner might harm you physically or mentally. Both of you should feel safe in expressing what you all feel without worrying how the other might react. You feel safe trying new things (like going out with a new group of friends or changing your mind about engaging in sexual activity) without feeling shamed for it.

Respect. You and your partner both respect one another. You respect the fact that you are both individuals with separate opinions and ideas. You and your partner also respect each other’s privacy and are okay when one does something without the other present. You and your partner don’t excessively “check in” on each other if you are out without one another, and you trust each other. Just because you respect your partner doesn’t mean you have to tolerate everything thing they do (such as their negative habits or behaviors). Setting boundaries and limits on what is okay and not okay is a big part of self-respect.

Acceptance. You and your partner accept each other for who you are. You don’t try to “fix” your partner and they don’t try to fix or change qualities about you. For example, if your partner was shy when you met them, it’s not fair to expect them to change just because you are more social and outgoing. If there are qualities that you want to fix about your partner (or vice-versa) it’s important to examine your motives on why you want them to change or why you think they need to be changed.

Of course, with any relationship, there are going to be difficulties and challenges. But there’s a difference between difficult moments and outright toxic ones, and often they are hard to spot and get out of. It’s also easy to make excuses for the people who you love, and you never want to think that someone you love would do something to hurt you. Trust your instincts and voice your concerns if you’re able to do so safely, and reach out to your friends and family if you can. Remember, whatever you are feeling is completely valid and your safety is a priority.

If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, or if you aren’t sure if your partner’s behaviors are toxic, you can go to www.stoprelationshipabuse.org to find resources and help near you.

Scarlett Cortez is a student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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