Hope, Healing, healthy relationships
We all could do better to understand and care for our partners, friends, and family. A healthy relationship can seem like an impossible standard at times, but it is the only way to truly love. We need to recognize unhealthy and abusive actions in ourselves and others to improve and protect ourselves.
On Thursday, Feb. 15 Project SHAPE (Sexual Health and Peer Education) put on an interactive panel about our conceptions of what makes up a healthy relationship. Members of SHAPE read a situation and the audience had to hold up a green card for healthy action, yellow for unhealthy action, and red for abusive action.
Some actions drew mixed responses such as whether to share passwords at the demand of a partner. Carol Stenger, founder and director of SHAPE, emphasized the importance of trust in a relationship. If you are in a healthy relationship your partner will trust you to do what is best. If you have concerns about your relationship it is imperative to communicate with your partner in an open and honest way.
The audience was given a flier with the warning signs of abusive. These signs include: “Get[s] angry when I don’t drop everything for him or her? Criticize[s] the way I look or dress, and say[s] I’ll never be able to find anyone else who would date me? Keep[s] me from seeing friends or talking to any other guys or girls?” Be on the lookout for nonconsensual, unbalanced power dynamics.
But how do you develop a healthy relationship? SHAPE says mutual respect, trust, honesty and support. Try to understand each other’s flaws. No one is perfect. Be honest about who you are and build trust so that you two can grow together. SHAPE also advises curating your own identity. Join clubs and work on hobbies. Stay your own person so that you and your partner have something to talk about at the end of the day. And most of all communicate.
We are often brought up with the romantic idea that our “soulmate” will understand us in every way. They will just get us. But no one will ever be able to read our minds. If you are irritated, or sad, or lonely you need to tell your partner. Be with someone who makes you feel safe, and even encouraged, to share your feelings. I know like this sounds like a lot. Many of us have never loved or been loved in this way. But it does exist.