With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many students think of love, romance and what it means to be happy in a relationship. Whether or not you are in a relationship, it is vital to consider what a good relationship looks like so you, your partner or your friends can be healthy and happy. Here are some ways to proactively pursue a healthy relationship and avoid the pitfalls of an unhealthy one.
Communication is essential to a relationship, whether it be in resolving an issue or just listening to what your partner has to say. Partners who have consistent communication will keep conflict to a minimum. Kara Samaniego, Safer office coordinator, weighed in on the importance of communication.
“In a healthy relationship, people should feel comfortable talking to their partner, whether it’s about something good or something that might be bothering them. And listening — there has to be empathy and allowing your partner the space to share their thoughts and be heard,” Samaniego said.
However, no relationship is without its conflict. Disagreements will arise and that’s OK. This is when communication is most essential to keeping the relationship in check.
“Being able to thoughtfully and respectfully navigate conflicts that might arise is important,” Samaniego said.
Having a strong sense of who you are as an individual is necessary in representing your personal beliefs. In a relationship, it is essential to share a common bond with your partner, something that unites you as people and helps define the relationship. Mechanical engineering junior Noah Thompson said he understands the importance of sharing personal values with a partner.
“I think it is important to center the relationship on something that has meaning to each person, whether it be religion, hobbies or passions that bring each person closer to one another,” Thompson said.
It is also helpful to respect your partner’s differences. Not everyone may share the same beliefs, so it is important to be respectful. According to Samaniego, there must be mutual respect in relationships and those involved should have each other’s best interests in mind.
A healthy relationship is built around trust between partners. While spending time together is important, knowing you can trust your partner when you are apart is a significant factor in reducing stress on the relationship. Business administration sophomore Antoine Noel cites trust as a defining part of a relationship.
“Trusting your partner when they are far away from you, that is really what is important, especially in a long-distance relationship or if you travel a lot,” Noel said.
Spending time apart can be beneficial in a relationship even if you live together. According to Samaniego, spending time away from your partner can help strengthen trust.
“Everyone needs time to recharge with friends or by themselves, and that should be accepted and encouraged by your partner” Samaniego said.
Jealousy and suspicion decrease if a solid foundation of trust lets you spend time apart.
Signs of an unhealthy relationship
It’s important to be able to identify the signs of an unhealthy relationship as well. Samaniego said she believes in the importance of recognizing and addressing harmful behavior. She believes it is necessary to ask yourself some questions when considering your relationship.
“Is your partner being respectful, even when they disagree, or do they insult you and put you down? Do you feel safe speaking up when you disagree? Anytime someone feels unsafe in their relationship, it’s important that you find someone you trust to talk to,” Samaniego said.
If you or a friend feel the need to speak with someone in confidence, Cal Poly’s campus resources such as Safer, PULSE and counseling services are great places to seek help and advice. Ultimately, a healthy relationship will leave you and your partner happy with each other and encourage you to spend time and make memories together as you go through your college experience.