What is a "healthy relationship"?
Let's face it. Teenagers aren't the only people confused by this topic. Most of us have many adult friends, even parents who are still asking themselves, "What am I doing wrong? How can I make this work?" The fact is that relationships aren't always walks in the park full of sunshine and love. They take patience, understanding, and most of all: work.
Sadly, most people, (youth especially) have never experienced a healthy relationship, and could certainly never correctly define it. Often, a failing partnership can make the person stressed, drained, and generally unhappy. Everyone is different, so the problems will mostly stem from a variety of issues. These include jealousy, lack of honesty, one person being too dominant, and much more.
Think: How many times have you been in a personal relationship and felt like you were on an emotional rollercoaster? Probably more than once. And if you haven't, well, consider yourself very, very lucky. The truth is that a healthy, successful partnership takes a lot of maintenance and consideration, and this should start early on. Here are a few tips to keep your relationship running smoothly:
- Learn from previous partners: Think of all of your past relationships and why they failed. (Yes, I know.) What did you do wrong? What did you do right? What aspects needed to be improved? How could you have improved them? Understanding previous relationships can give you an idea of which habits to avoid in the present, and which to keep.
- Be honest: Is there something that your partner did or said getting under your skin? Don't bottle it up. Not expressing your feelings is a very good way to explode later on and start an argument. Did you do something to break your partners trust? Own up to it. You don't want to deal with the consequences when they (and they will) find out about it later on.
- Trust: You can't always assume that your partner is cheating on you. If they say they want to go out with friends for a bit, and they have never cheated and seem to have nothing to hide, what's the problem? Tell them to have a good time, call up your friends, and have some fun of your own!
- Be supportive: Sometimes, your partner will have to deal with emotional stress (like a death in the family, ect.). Be sure to support and console them in any way you can, without it letting it impact your life in a negative way. Don't be selfish, though. Your partner probably needs you at that moment more than you need to go to the bar.
- Keep the relationship equal-standing: There should be no dominance issues here. You and your partner should be making decisions together, not one person running the entire show.
- Face the problems: Sweeping your issues under the rug can cause some serious underlying issues, that will later do harm to the partnership. All problems should be faced head on, in a calm and considerate manner.
- Listen: Neither of you are always right. You should listen to your partner when they have something to say, and urge them to return the favor.
- Stay calm: It's easy to forget not to raise your voice when you're angry or hurt, especially during an argument. All couples argue. I've learned that the best way to resolve things is by talking in a calm, explanatory manner. When you yell, the person may feel attacked, which will lead to unnecessary fighting and lingering irrational anger. If your partner is doing this, don't yell back. Try reminding them that they are raising their voice, and that you still want to hear what they have to say, in a tone that sounds a bit less like a child throwing a tantrum. (Please don't use those words..) Most of the time, they will realize that they need to calm down.
- Let go and move on: If you and your partner have issues from the past that have already been resolved, it's probably good to let them go at some point. Forgiveness is an important part of a healthy relationship, and holding on to old problems will not give it room to grow. Of course, it's okay to talk about it if it still bothers you, but don't let the past hinder the present. Take the time to think: Was it really that serious? If not, let it go! If so, talk with your partner about how it makes you feel, and try not to get too angry. You already did that, remember? Time to make some progress.
- The sexual relationship shouldn't be pressured: Any sexual act performed should not be simply because the other person wants to. If there is something you or your partner want to do that the other is genuinely uncomfortable with, chances are it shouldn't be done.
Obviously, this article only covers the basics of a healthy partnership, and is not to be used to determine what to do if your partner is abusive. That topic will be saved for another day.