by Cheyenne Mathews
Every person on Earth has had a relationship, and by relationship I don’t just mean someone you date. We interact with people we have relationships with everyday; whether it be formal or informal, we contact and communicate with our friends or family on a daily basis. Since relationships are such an essential staple of our daily lives, it is important to know what makes a healthy relationship and what are some signs of an abusive relationship.
What makes a healthy relationship?
Healthy relationships are all about communication. Healthy communication is important, but don’t take it from me alone. An article by Stephanie Sarkis Ph.D. at Psychology Today states,
“You can argue without fighting. Arguing is non-combative… Sometimes you agree to disagree – and that’s okay. Figure out what your “non-negotiables” are – the things that you will not budge on.”
There are many ways to be a good communicator in your relationships, just know your preferences. For me it is preferable to talk to people face-to-face as opposed to text or call. Just know what works for you and the person you want to communicate with and you will be off to a good start. Once you know what’s a good mode of communication for you and the person you are in a relationship in, it is always good (especially with friends) to know what you value independently of each other. Having common morals and values really helps build a healthy relationship, and communicating those values from the beginning helps avoid many potential conflicts over ideological differences. That being said, it is still possible to interact at a high level with someone who has different values, as long as mutual respect of each other as human beings is present.
More than anything, it is important to show the people you care about, that you care about them. This can be demonstrated by asking your friends how their day was, bringing loved ones soup when they’re sick, or even just sending a text that you were thinking about them. People remember how you make them feel, and if you really care about a relationship in your life then remember to make that person feel you care.
What makes an abusive relationship?
Where healthy relationships are all about communication, unhealthy relationships are all about control. According to Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, AWAIC, there are several key questions to ask that address the warning signs of an abusive relationships. These questions range from ‘does your partner make threats of any kind?’ to ‘do they prevent you from working?’
Your relationships should be something you cherish, not something that makes your life miserable. If someone you are closely linked to makes you stop spending time with other friends, takes your money, physically assaults you, or embarrasses you with insults then that person is exemplifying signs of an abusive relationship. Abusive relationships are sadly more common than one would hope for high school girls. According to AWAIC, women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence with nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experiencing physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. College students too, face a heightened exposure to abusive relationships with approximately 70% of college students stating that they have been sexually coerced.
Healthy relationships are important and if you or a friend are experiencing some sort of abusive relationship, it is never too late to get help. You can and should always let a friend know about your concerns, offer support, and give them resources to a local guidance counselor at your college or high school and encourage them to memorize the phone numbers of close friends in the case of an emergency.