Healthy and respectful relationships
Being open with and respecing ne another’s feelings are keys to building healthy relationships
What do you want out of a relationship?
All of us are born wanting to feel that we belong, that we're loved, and that we have at least one connection with someone we can trust. As we get older, many people will start to think more about things like sex and romance. Some of us will want more romance than sex, others will prefer sex to romance. Some people want a good mix of both, and others may not be interested very much in either. We all different things, and what we want can change over time. This is all normal and OK!
In a relationship, you should be able to answer these questions:
- Do I feel comfortable with you?
Am I doing what I’m happy to be doing? Am I safe physically and emotionally?
- Do you like me?
Do you treat me well? Am I important to you?
It's very common to ask yourself questions like: Do they like me? Do I like them? What's the meaning of this relationship? What if they don’t like who I really am? No matter where you’re at, just remember that everyone makes mistakes - everybody is a learner, and we're all growing up together.
We need different relationships to grow well
When you think about all of the above, you may want to ask yourself: Is it reasonable to expect to have all of these needs met by just one person? Just like a plant needs different things like soil, sunlight, water, nutrients, and so on, we also need many different relationships in our lives in order to grow well and be healthy.
If a plant focuses too much on one thing, like getting too much water, it might actually become overwhelmed, and even wilt and drown. A plant needs to find balance in its many different relationships, in order to make the best out of each one.
Similarly, a healthy relationship means making sure that you don’t put all your hopes and time into one single person. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you expect everything from one relationship, you can put too much pressure on it.
It might seem strange, but one way to make your main relationship work is to actually try to build different types of relationships that nourish you in different ways. In other words, the health of one relationship actually depends on the health of all your other relationships. Try to make sure you stay connected to at least one other person in your life who can provide you with love, support, hugs, or someone to talk to about what's important to you.
What does consent feel like in a healthy relationship?
In a healthy relationship, you listen to one another and feel free to share needs, ideas, and concerns in your relationship. In a healthy relationship, you know your value to one another, and this is communicated to one another freely and openly. You can make decisions for your own life, including communicating any boundaries or need for personal space, without being afraid of violence, coercion, retribution or retaliation from the other.
In a healthy relationship, you genuinely consider one another’s feelings and interests when making decisions, and you can share this with one another freely and openly. You always respect one another, even when you don’t always agree. In a healthy relationship, you will always respect and support one another’s decisions about your own body without question.
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