February is the month of love and companionship but what is love supposed to look like? In order to have a healthy relationship it’s important to really understand what that means. A
healthy relationship consists of boundaries, communication, trust and consent. There shouldn’t be any imbalance of power in the relationship and partners respect each other’s independence. A
few characteristics of a healthy relationship include; respect for privacy and space, you are comfortable expressing your opinions to your partner, and your partner encourages you to spend
time with friends and participate in activities you enjoy.
Everyone has boundaries and it’s important to discuss your boundaries in a relationship. Think about what boundaries you have when it comes to being physical such as PDA, emotional
boundaries, sexual boundaries, and digital boundaries. After exploring what you are and are not okay with, have an open discussion with your partner and ask them what their boundaries look
like. When it comes to boundaries it’s important to trust your intuition or “trust your gut”, if you get that icky feeling don’t ignore it, it’s your body’s way of saying something is wrong. It’s okay
to feel anxious, sad, or upset when that feeling arises. You should talk about it with your partner and express how they have crossed a boundary.
Communication is the next important thing in a healthy relationship, being open and honest with one another allows one to share what’s on your mind and how you are feeling. There
are 4 tips for healthy communication in a relationship:
– When speaking it helps to use “I statements” so no one feels attacked or at fault, it also makes it easier to speak from the heart rather than anger or frustration
– Listening is the essential when communicating, putting away distractions and listening to what your partner is saying, rather than thinking of how to respond
– Body language tells a lot about how one is feeling, make sure to make eye contact, face them, and give them your undivided attention
– Lastly, do not have important conversations over the phone or texts, it is hard to tell a person’s tone when they aren’t physically there and can be easily misinterpreted
Trust is another important characteristic of a healthy relationship. It can be hard to build trust after someone else in the past has broken it but you cannot blame your current partner for
something that they did not do. A few ways to build trust is to be reliable, respect boundaries, be honest, and do what you say and say what you mean.
Consent is needed in a relationship, and the only correct answer is an enthusiastic answer. Silence, lack of enthusiasm, and saying maybe or I don’t know is not consent and you should
stop, listen, and leave your partner alone. Consent requires communication and understanding boundaries and that consent can be taken away at any time. Also, consenting to one activity does
not mean consent to all future activities, checking in is required and needed in order to consent. Linked below is a quiz you can take to see if your relationship is healthy!
Written by BSW Intern, McKenna Pettigrew
What does a healthy relationship look like? The State of New York. (n.d.).