- Gender and Relationships
Creating A Healthy Relationship
Creating a Healthy Relationship
When beginning a relationship the old saying "Love is Blind" is all too often true. We are infatuated with the other person and become blind to the signs of coming attractions.
When beginning a new relationship there are things you need to have set in your mind that you want, do not want and are willing to compromise on. If you do not have these things your focus will be on the infatuation and in the moment of the feelings of ‘love' instead of thinking, "Can I spend a long time with this person?"
It may take some time to find someone who's right for you! And someone who thinks you are the right one for him or her! It is normal to look at the world through rose-colored glasses in the early stages of a relationship. But for some people, those rose-colored glasses turn into blinders that keep them from seeing that a relationship is not as healthy as it should be.
In the beginning of a relationship the couple is often doing the ‘right' things, treating each other with respect, giving enough attention, etc. So how can you tell if these behaviors will last throughout the relationship?
Below is a list of behaviors that we all desire in an ideal relationship and they are behaviors that should last!
Something I was taught years ago and I taught my children; is when starting out a new relationship, look at how the other person treats their parents. If a man respects his mother he will more often than not also respect you. Same for a woman and her father.
- Mutual respect - Does your partner listen to you? Do they take what you say and act upon it? Such as when you say you're not comfortable doing something do they back off right away? Mutual respect in a relationship is where each person values who the other is and understands and would never compromise the other person's boundaries. Mutual respect values the other person's feelings, thoughts, goals and bodies.
- Trust - Having trust in a relationship must be earned. Trust is not an automatic behavior. From day one of a relationship, you should be able to BE trustworthy so that the other person's trust in you stays strong. Assuming things can often falsely break trust. What I mean is if you ‘assume' because he looks at a pretty woman walking down the street when you are together that he will cheat on you, which is assuming falsely. Men are visual and will and do look at what attract them. This does not mean he is a cheater. The same goes for women, women also look at visual stimulation, it does not mean she will be a cheater either.
- Honesty - This one goes hand-in-hand with trust because it's tough to trust someone who is not being honest. In the long run, being totally honest with your partner is vital, even if the initial honesty will cause some hurt. If you do not want to go somewhere with him/her but want to go out that night with your friends, then say so up front! Dishonesty is the number one breaker of ‘deals' and relationships!
- Being Supportive - Being supportive of one another is important at all times, not just in a rough time. Everyone desires that their partner is there for them when everything seems to be falling apart. In a healthy relationship, he / she should be there with a shoulder to cry or a pat on the back when you achieve a new level at work or master a new skill, etc.
- "ME" Time - Everyone needs time alone and time with their friends. Especially women who thrive on friendships and their girl time. It is important in a relationship that you accept the fact that you both have friendships outside of each other as well as mutual friends. You do not have to love each others friends, but do be accepting of them.
- Respecting Your Individuality - Before you came together in the relationship you were strangers, each having a circle of friends, places you liked to go, hobbies and the like. Just because two people start a relationship does not mean that these things should end or be thrown to the wayside. You are still two individuals with your own personalities and thoughts. There can be mutual compromise on many issues while still maintaining individuality. Such as some of your friends become mutual friends now, interests can be common ground and hobbies can be shared. But if the other person does not share an interest, that should not mean that you should never pursue that. It is perfectly right to allow the other person to continue that hobby or interest or friend as long as it does not create a wedge between the two of you and create discourse. It is vital to discuss these things up front and be agreeable to compromise so that both parties benefit.
- Good communication - It is a well known fact that men and women do not always seem to speak the same language. How a woman interprets something can be almost the opposite that a man interprets the same thing. Good communication means that you are free to ask the other person "What did you exactly mean?" or "I do not understand why you feel that way" or "When you say / do that I feel...."
Never keep your feelings bottled up because you're afraid it's not what you think he or she wants to hear. And if you need some time to think something through before you are ready to discuss it, the other person should give you some space to do that if you ask for it.
Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship
A relationship is unhealthy when it involves mean, disrespectful, controlling, or abusive behavior. These behaviors can be emotional or physical or both. Unfortunately some people grew up around this kind of behavior and it seems normal to them. Obviously it is NOT! Children learn from watching and imitating the people close to them, such as parents and other extended family. Thus, someone who has lived around violent or disrespectful behavior has not learned how to treat others with kindness and respect or how to expect the same treatment. As adults we also teach others how to treat us by allowing bad behavior to occur. If you are being disrespected or abused and you allow it, you send the message that it is ok to treat you like that.
Qualities such as kindness and respect are absolute requirements for a healthy relationship. Someone who does not have this proper behavior needs to work on it with a trained therapist before he or she is ready for a relationship. Meanwhile, even though you may feel bad or feel for someone who's been mistreated, you need to take care of yourself - it's not healthy to stay in a relationship that involves abusive behavior of any kind. You are not responsible for how that person is, you are responsible however to take care of yourself and to help that person get proper help.
Warning Signs the Relationship is Not Healthy
Unfortunately statistics show us that verbal and physical abuse is prevalent in relationships. Too many times the woman is led to believe that it is ok or normal to accept this type of behavior. So if you think there's no way it could happen to you or someone you know, think again.
Ask yourself, does my partner:
- Get angry when I don't drop everything for him or her?
- Criticize the way I look or dress, and say I'll never be able to find anyone else who would date/marry me?
- Keep me from seeing friends or from talking to any other guys or girls?
- Want me to quit an activity, even though I love it?
- Ever raise a hand when angry, like he or she is about to hit me?
- Try to force me to go further sexually than I want to?
These aren't the only questions you can ask yourself but they are the critical ones. If you can answer yes to even just two of these then you need to reevaluate your relationship. It may be time to end it and get out. If you feel you are being abused and do not know where to turn, try this site http://www.ndvh.org/ or look in your local phone book for abuse hotline.
Relationships can be the greatest and most challenging chapters of your life. They can be full of fun, romance, excitement, intense feelings, and occasional heartache. Whether you're single or in a relationship, remember that it is good to be picky about who you start a relationship with. Take your time and get to know the other person before taking it to the next level. Think about the qualities you value in a friendship and see how they match up with the ingredients of a healthy relationship. Work on developing those good qualities in yourself first, they make you a lot more attractive to others. And if you're already part of a pair, make sure the relationship you're in brings out the best in both of you.