Healthy relationships, whether they are romantic or not, have certain components that contribute to their foundation. Qualities that make up healthy relationships include:
- Healthy Communication - Direct communication that uses "I" messages which allow each person to take responsibility for his or her feelings, thoughts and behaviors. For example, "I feel hurt when you look the other way when I am telling you something" as opposed to a "you" messages, such as "you are so inconsiderate, you never listen when I am talking". Healthy communication is non-blaming and non-shaming and it involves communicating directly to the person. Indirect communication expects someone else to read your mind and creates confusion.
- Clear Boundaries - Having a clear understanding that each person in a relationship is a separate individual and each can perceive things differently without expecting the other to see things the way they do. On the same note, having the understanding that each person in the relationship is responsible for his/her own behavior and for communicating his/her own needs and wants.
- Trust - An awareness that the person you are in a relationship with would not intentionally harm you emotionally or physically, as well as a sense that you can trust their words to agree with their actions. For example, if your partner says they will not tell anyone about your situation and keeps it in confidence, then they have been dependable, and you will feel confident about relying on them in the future. In addition, trust occurs in relationships when each person involved is consistent. It is hard to trust someone who treats you well one day and is critical and volatile the next. Healthy relationships welcome consistency.
- Mutual Respect - A mutual appreciation of each other's strengths and weaknesses and a sensitivity to the needs and values of one another. This involves viewing the relationship as important and as something of value to be honored and treated with care.
- Common Interests - Enjoying common activities and hobbies as well as sharing common values. For example; enjoying nature, art, music, athletics, children, etc.
- Intimacy - An intimate relationship means that you have a relationship with another
person where you give and are given validation, understanding, and a sense of being
valued intellectually, emotionally and if intimate, physically. The more each person
is willing to share, and be shared with, the greater the intimacy. A quote from Janet
Woititz's book Struggle for Intimacy, "You know that you are in a healthy, intimate
relationship when you have created an environment where:
a) I can be me
b) You can be you
c) We can be us
d) I can grow
e) You can grow
f) We can grow together
These boundaries are important for long-term romantic relationships, as it is easier for boundaries to become diffused when people are romantically involved. In order for romantic relationships to be healthy, it is vital that each individual maintain friends and activities outside the relationship, as well as have quality time together. This helps each individual maintain his or her own identity and sense of self, which in turn enhances the relationship.
If you find yourself in a pattern of choosing relationships that are unhealthy, seeking counseling can help to develop a clearer understanding of the reasons why you may be making such choices, such as low self-esteem, family background, etc.
For counseling appointments on campus, please call:
SBCC Personal Counseling Health & Wellness
(805)965-0581 ext. 2298