What's Your Relationship Reality?
Relationships are a tricky topic…if you’re in one, there’s a million questions (am I happy? Is he right for me? Should we break up?) and if you’re not, there are a million more (when will I meet someone? Will dating my friend ruin the friendship? Am I the only single person left in the world?). But the key to any relationship is to make sure that it’s healthy—that both parties are happy and that their needs are being met. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Getting into a relationship and making sure that it’s healthy takes some serious work. Here are our tips for making sure that you’re on the right track.
Making it Work
If your little brother does something that you don’t like, you don’t keep your mouth shut about it, right? Of course not! You tell him straight out that he did something you didn’t like and to cut it out. And while we don’t advocate talking to your partner in the same way you’d talk to your little brother, the message is the same: you have to tell your partner what you’re thinking. You can’t expect him/her to be a mind reader—and they can’t expect YOU to read THEIR mind either. Telling your partner that you want them at opening night of the play you’re in (even though you don’t have any lines) or that you don’t like it when they interrupt you in the middle of a story (even when they’ve heard that story 10 times) means that you’re communicating your wants and needs; that’s a crucial part of building a good relationship.
You're having an innocent conversation with a girl in your geometry class and your girlfriend sees you. Does she completely freak out at you and accuse you of cheating on her? Or does she come over, say hi, and introduce herself because she knows this girl is just a friend of yours? If you’re with someone who loses their cool at every little thing, or is constantly accusing you of cheating on them, then there’s a major piece missing from your relationship: trust. Being in a trusting relationship means knowing that your partner is doing what they say they’re doing or that you won’t be met with crazy accusations and anger if you don’t answer your phone that one time she calls you. Trust is built up over time as you prove to each other that you can rely and depend on each other. That means doing what you say you’ll do and being open and honest. There's no way you can have a healthy relationship if you don't trust each other.
Remember that one time your boyfriend was going on and on and on about how amazing his favorite band is? And you just wanted to change to subject because, frankly, you hate that band? Well, telling him to shut up or that his taste in music is the worst is the opposite of respect. Respect means that you and your partner value each other as you are…his opinions, cultural differences, beliefs, and personal boundaries may differ from yours, but because you care about him, you respect and celebrate those differences. And he, in turn, respects and celebrates his differences with you.
When It's Over
Sometimes the healthiest relationships run their course and it becomes clear that the only option is to break up. Obviously, this can be a really hard call to make, but lots of conflict, a decrease in the amount of time you spend together, or realizing that your feelings have changed can all mean that it’s time to end things...and let’s face it—if you’re fighting more than you’re laughing, what’s the point of being together anyway? So how do you do it? Every break up is different, so there aren’t instructions you can follow every time. But we’ve put together an article with some tips on how to handle a break up (the nice way)…check it out here.
Break ups are never easy but they’re even harder when you’re the one getting dumped. Suddenly, homeroom—the place you've been every morning for how many months?—is awkward and strange, the McDonald's around the corner is painful to see, and forget those two classes you share. Before they were the highlight of your day...now it's almost impossible to sit through five minutes. Unfortunately, this "getting re-used to things" is a part of the break up that, while painful, is very necessary. Even though meeting new people may seem about as fun as a root canal, new relationships will develop in time.
Breaking up with someone—or getting broken up with—is tough...but it's also probably not the hardest thing you'll go through. Lean on your family, your friends, and your hobbies during the tougher times—you'd be surprised how much it'll help to talk to people who love and care for you or to distract yourself with books, movies, working out, playing sports—doing more of whatever it is that you like to do. It doesn't seem like it now, but remember—this feeling won't last forever.
When It's Abusive
Did you know that 1 in 5 teens who’ve been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped, or pushed by their partner? Dating abuse isn’t a new thing, but sometimes it seems like the one part of a relationship that nobody wants to talk about. So let’s get the conversation started…it’s important to know that dating abuse can happen to ANYONE but NO ONE deserves to be in a relationship full of violence, intimidation, or fear. Click here to visit our dating abuse page and learn more about how to figure out if you're in an abusive relationship.
Know the facts. Know the signs. Know that there is help if you need it.
Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant Number: 90-FE-0024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.