On this Valentine's Day, let's take a brief look at the ingredients of a good, healthy relationship. While the focus of this blog is on college students, what follows can certainly apply to anyone, at any age. College students have many opportunities to meet new friends and develop enriching relationships on campus. Such relationships can make the difference between a positive and negative college experience. It is important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and to know how to make choices to preserve the former and improve the latter. Here are a few hallmarks of a healthy relationship:
- Mutual respect and civility
- A sense of reciprocity, or "give and take"
- Feeling supported and supporting the other
- A significant degree of trust and honesty
- Fairness and equality as adults
- Comfort with emotional intimacy or closeness
- Comfort with distance and "separateness", or being able to have your own life apart from the other
- Open, direct communication without fear of reprisal, hidden agendas, or manipulation
- Good "boundaries", or being able to set personal limits with self and others
While no relationship is perfect and we all have bad days, students should be able to evaluate their relationships and feel, on the whole, that they are positive and healthy. If they are less than healthy, steps should be taken to improve them. Such steps involve both assertiveness and listening. If you have concerns about the state of your relationships with family members, friends, roommates, faculty, co-workers or others, contact your campus counseling service for assistance.