The question is about healthy relationships. What if we have never seen a healthy relationship, or have never seen a relationship that looked like one we wanted? Not in real life anyway, because who hasn’t seen a rom-com and thought to themselves, “that’s the kind of love I want”? I am sure many of us have, I know I have, but what about seeing a real healthy love that wasn’t just quickly put in front of us for 90 minutes of entertainment? How many people have seen healthy love in real life?
Unfortunately, here in the state of Hawai’i, the fact is that 90% of high school seniors know someone who is, or has been, in an abusive relationship. Clearly, a lot of us are seeing unhealthy relationships, whether it is our friends’, relatives’, or neighbors’ relationships that we are observing. It seems like not many people are seeing healthy relationships as models, at least not day in and day out.
This statistic brings me back to the original question, “can we have a healthy relationship, if we’ve never seen one?” I believe every person is not only worthy of a healthy love, but I also believe that every person can achieve a healthy love. The big factor is awareness.
Awareness: a·ware·ness, NOUN
- knowledge or perception of a situation or fact:
- concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development
In order to break away from a behavior, or stop a pattern that is completely normal to us, we must first become aware that a behavior or pattern even exists. The same applies to healthy relationships. If we don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like, we can at least stop and ask ourselves, “is what I am seeing unhealthy or abusive?” Asking yourself questions and asking people in your life that you trust this question is one sure way to start building awareness.
Building awareness when it comes to having healthy love means asking ourselves the question “what do I need and want from my partner?” Is it, support, trust, honesty, equality, respect, space, communication, openness, vulnerability, or all of the above? If we don’t ask ourselves, or name what it is that we DO want, it’s going to be a lot harder to achieve it.
So now that we know the healthy traits we want in our relationship, what does that mean? I want equality in my relationship, so does that mean I want my partner and I to completely agree on every decision from big to small (i.e. the movie we see on date night, or the restaurant we choose to eat at, or if we live with my parents or get our own place together?). However, I may decide I want equality to look like, “I decide what movie, and you decide what restaurant (and next time we switch), and clearly we still both decide where we live.”
To have a healthy relationship means knowing what healthy love looks likes, or at least having some guidelines for what you want and need and deciding if your partner is making those things happen for you. Lastly, let’s not forget to check-in with our partner because hey, let’s be real, you are only one part of that relationship, and to get all those healthy traits we should definitely be making sure our bae is feeling supported, heard, and loved, as well. Here’s to creating our healthy relationship futures, one trait at a time!