Student Wellness: Healthy Relationships

As many of you already know, college is one of most exciting and stressful eras of your life. College is filled with meeting new people, going to parties, studying for exams, going to class, and a much more in between. College is the time to learn about yourself, find out who you want to be, and what you want to do with your life. This is a crucial part of life, as independence and responsibility come lurking around, and you start to become your own person. For many of you, a significant other can also be in that mix. Relationships in college can have a significant impact in your life, both socially and academically. The most important part to think about is how your relationship affects you mentally, whether it makes you get butterflies every time you see them, or nervous about how they might react in a particular situation.
In a healthy relationship, one of the most important qualities to have is effective communication, where you can your partner can speak openly and honestly to each other about issues that may be bothering you. If you have something on your mind, you should be able to communicate with your partner. Remember, it is never about who is right or who is wrong, the important part is being able to talk about differing views you may have, or compromising about a certain issue in your relationship. A major part of communication is respecting each other’s views or opinions, as they may differ, and if you have to, it’s good to agree to disagree on some beliefs you are both passionate about.
Establishing healthy boundaries is also an important part of a healthy relationship, because there is more to life that your significant other. It’s about finding that happy median between the both of you, since many of you go to school, have jobs or children, play a sport, have hobbies. Just because you’re in a relationship does not mean you need to compromise the time you spent doing other things. If you see your grades sinking, your playing time going down, your boss complaining about your performance, or you’re not spending as much time doing things you love, then you many need to evaluate your relationship. You should still be able to go and hang out with your friends without your partner, or participate in activities you like to do on your own. Being in a relationship should not deter the other parts of your life that are important to you; again this is where communication between you and your partner is crucial!

Psychology Today recognizes 50 characteristics of a healthy relationship. Take the time to read of these characteristics to identify whether you’re in a healthy relationship. Keep in mind that these should apply to you, as well as your partner.

1) You can name your partner’s best friend and identify a positive quality that the person has
2) You and your partner are playful with each other
3) You think your partner has good ideas
4) You’d like to become more like your partner, in some ways
5) Even when you disagree, you can acknowledge your partner has sensible points
6) You think about each other when you’re not physically together
7) You see your partner as trustworthy
8) In relationship relevant areas, such as warmth and attractiveness, you view your partner a little bit more positively than they view themselves or than most other people view them
9) You enjoy the ways your partner has changed and grown since you met
10) Your partner is enthusiastic when something goes right for you
11) When you reunite at the end of the day, you say something positive before you say something negative
12) You reminisce about positive experiences you’ve had together in the past
13) You can name one of your partner’s favorite books
14) You know your partner’s aspirations in life
15) You can recall something you did together that was new and challenging for both of you
16) You kiss every day
17) You’re comfortable telling your partner about things that make you feel vulnerable
18) You have your own “love language” (pet names or special signs)
19) You know your partner’s most embarrassing moment from childhood
20) You know your partner’s proudest moment from childhood
21) You never, or very rarely, express contempt with your partner by rolling your eyes, swearing at them, or calling them crazy
22) You can list some positive personality qualities your partner inherited from their parents
23) If you have children together, you can list some positive personality qualities your partner has passed down to your children
24) You enjoy supporting your partner’s exploration of personal goals and dreams, even when this involves you staying home
25) You have a sense of security, and confidence that your partner will not be unfaithful or do something to jeopardize your combined financial security
26) When you argue, you still have a sense that your partner cares about your feelings and opinions
27) Your partner lets you into their inner emotional world- they make their thoughts and feelings accessible to you
28) You frequently express appreciation toward each other
29) You frequently express admiration toward each other
30) You feel a sense of being teammates with your partner
31) You know your partner’s favorite song
32) You have a sense that your individual strengths complement each other
33) When you say goodbye in the morning, it’s mindful and affectionate
34) If you’ve told your partner about trauma you’ve experienced, they’ve reacted kindly
35) You don’t flat out refuse to talk about topics that are important to your partner
36) You respect your partner’s other relationships with family or friends, and view them as important
37) You have fun together
38) You see your partner’s flaws/weakness is specific rather than general ways
39) You’re receptive to being influenced by your partner, you’ll try their suggestions
40) You’re physically affectionate toward each other
41) You enjoy spending time together
42) You feel a zing when you think about the time you first met
43) You can name your partner’s favorite relative
44) You can name your partner’s most beloved childhood pet
45) You can articulate what your partner sees as the recipe for happiness
46) When you feel stressed or upset, you turn toward your partner for comfort, rather than turning away from your partner and dealing with it yourself
47) You have a sense that it’s easy to get your partner’s attention if you have something to say
48) You like exploring your partner’s body
49) You can name your partner’s favorite food
50) If you could only take one person to a deserted island, you would take your partner

I know this is a fairly long list of characteristics for a healthy relationship, but it is important that you take the time to read each of them and be honest with yourself and your partner. While reading through this list, if you see something that you may not know about your partner, or are not doing with your partner, then take the time to learn or do it. Ask them about their childhood pet, start kissing them every day, and if you don’t feel like you’re getting what you need from your partner, communicate that with them and work it out together. Being able to have a healthy relationship in college can help you with the stresses of this chapter in your life, but it should never add on to the stresses you already have.

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