Healthy Relationships Step By Step
As much as it is about education, college is about building relationships, from lifelong friendships and employment references or contacts to dates that may one day end up in marriage.
But the first step to any healthy relationship is to know and love yourself. As a young adult, this is precisely the time to develop an understanding of your own identity.
Another step in building healthy relationships is to practice safety, to protect yourself and others. It is vital that you understand what “consent” means in a sexual relationship, to educate yourself and to empower you and others in making informed and healthy choices.
Here is a video that shows how some college students are addressing the problem of unhealthy relationships.
Now that we know what an unhealthy relationship looks like, what does a healthy relationship look like?
This is something most of us have to learn. For example, I once went through these thought processes as I prepared for a date:
He’s cute and he asked me to go to the university gym and play racquetball. I remember those badminton games in my grandparents’ backyard. Sure, I can drop shot with finesse and feint and go for a kill shot. I’ll tear up that court and impress with my grace and skill!
Uhhh, hello?!?! Badminton with a grandparent is NOTHING like racquetball with an athletic individual.
When I realized my mistake, especially the fact that I had no idea how to play racquetball, I decided to play it cool. I can totally do this. Game on! And I failed. Miserably. He may have even laughed at the way I ran with the racquet, something about not moving my arms.
That was the first and last time I played racquetball. Despite my lack of athleticism, he and I spent more time together. Turns out, that particular racquetball player extraordinaire was a pretty good guy and didn’t even care that I run oddly.
You may meet someone and the relationship may begin with similar awkwardness. It can take time, but give yourself the chance to develop healthy and whole loving relationships.
Brené Brown, Ph.D., offers these “Steps to a Healthy Loving Relationship”:
“Love is cultivated between two people only when self-love is present in both persons.”
Brown says, “Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we will ever do.” If you could use some help seeing yourself rightly, as a person of value with unique strengths and gifts to offer another, then come talk to a counselor at the ASU Counseling Center. This service is free (since you already paid your tuition and fees) and as a counselor, it’s one of my favorite things to do, to help an individual perceive their own story accurately and I believe you all have a story worth telling!
Grow Through Connection.
Get to know each other. If you don’t like racquetball, try something else.
You’re Not Alone.
Bring a trusted friend with you to a new place and don’t go home with someone you do not know. Develop a safety plan for yourself. Don’t settle for less than a genuine relationship with another person.
And always remember, you are worth the time and effort it takes to be known.