Due to a passing fancy and the irresistible urge to take online quizzes, I recently took an “Are You in a Healthy Relationship?” quiz. Answer the follow questions with “yes” or “no” and find out if you are in a healthy relationship! Right. A relationship exists too much on a continuum to be decided by a few clicks of a mouse. There are, however, key aspects of a relationship that I consider vital for success.
Acceptance may be one of the most important values in maintaining a healthy relationship. But even this exists on a continuum – I am not saying that you should just accept that your boyfriend has brief anger spells where he destroys things in a Hulk-like fashion. That, I believe, would be a red flag. Acceptance of characteristics, however, is essential. Is your partner a procrastinator? Anxiety ridden? Impatient? Short-tempered? Appreciating and accepting a partner’s flaws is what will progress a relationship. Otherwise, you need to recognize and accept that there are certain qualities you are not willing to put up with. This important aspect can, of course, be the most difficult to implement. I struggle with something my boyfriend calls “nagging,” which points to my underlying struggle to accept his procrastination. With some therapy I am coming to accept that this is his personal style of getting things done… though sometimes I do relapse.
Open and honest communication is equally important in nourishing strong relationships. I am not necessarily including white lies in this; please don’t tell your partner their jeans make them look fat. However, it is important to discuss values, boundaries and life goals. Intimate communication builds a relationship past the infatuated you-can-do-no wrong phase. It provides the opportunity to show genuine curiosity about the thoughts and feelings of your significant other. Seize this opportunity! Curiosity can cultivate acceptance and empathy. It can also light the way to a mature love based on awareness and understanding.
You have a choice in any relationship, to commit to it or not. In my own life I find that relationships worth having are the ones that make me feel accepted while also making me want to be better. Awareness of this mantra throughout life can increase the amount of positive and healthy relationships you maintain. I use “maintain” specifically, for nurturing a healthy relationship requires work that entails acceptance of your partner and engagement in open and honest communication. By doing so you are fostering trust and respect, and without trust and respect you probably aren’t in a healthy relationship. But don’t trust me, go ask Google.
Remember: if you ever feel pressured, uncomfortable, afraid, or if your partner ever forces or coerces you to do something against your will, you have the right to leave. If you feel like you can’t leave for whatever reason, you have the right to seek help. Come visit us at the counseling center. We can help.
Chelsea Young is a guest contributor for Boxer Doctors. She is filling in for Joselyne Perry, the Campus Wellness Coordinator at Pacific’s counseling center on Cedar Street.