During your time at Catholic University, you will engage in many different types of relationships.
Whether it be with friends, roommates or romantic partners, healthy relationships share many of the same core characteristics. Consider the following when thinking about your own relationships:
- Mutual respect - Both people appreciate the other for who they are. They honor each other's limits and boundaries and do not demean the other's values. They listen to each other and accept each other as they are, without arguing or trying to change core traits and values.
- Trust - In healthy relationships, both people ultimately trust each other. Romantic partners do not accuse each other of cheating, lying, or hiding something without cause. If mistrust or doubts frequently arise, partners discuss this with each other in a respectful way and try to discover why this is happening.
- Communication - Both people say what they mean and mean what they say. They speak openly and honestly about their reactions and experiences and express their boundaries and limits. If someone needs time to process, think, or cool down before talking, they are given the space and time to do that.
- Honesty - Friends, roommates, and romantic partners are honest with each other and make every attempt not to lie. If the truth is difficult or painful, it is presented in the most respectful and compassionate way possible. True trust cannot exist in a relationship without both parties being honest.
- Fairness - Balancing responsibilities and compromises is important in relationships. Both people contribute to making decisions, such as which friends to hang out with or where to go out. Partners do not aim to exert power over the other or deprive the other from having their voice heard.
- Separate Identities - In a healthy relationship, both people retain their unique identities. This can mean having separate friends, hobbies, or interests. Individual identities are not sacrificed in order to conform to somebody else.
- Support - In both difficult moments and time of celebration friends, roommates, and romantic partners support each other. They communicate and discuss what kind of support they expect and what kind of support they feel capable of giving.
Warning Signs of Unhealthy or Abusive RelationshipsIt's important to listen to your gut when you feel that something isn't right in your relationship. If you are not sure if your relationship is healthy, ask yourself if you are experiencing any of these warning signs:
- Consistently Disrespecting Boundaries - When a partner repeatedly disregards the other's personal limits, this creates a hostile, unsafe relationship.
- Blaming for One's Emotional State - It's inappropriate for a partner to blame the other for inducing a particular state or action. Typically, unhealthy and manipulative statements are dramatic, extreme in their emotional content, and blame the partner for behaviors that the original person is actually responsible for.
- Unrealistic Dependency - If a relationship is consistently imbalanced in terms of who is expected to provide emotional support v. who receives support, this could be a sign of an unhealthy dynamic.
- Accusations or Excessive Requests for Reassurance - When a partner accuses the other of things like cheating, being emotionally unfaithful, or not caring about the partner this also contributes to an unhealthy relationship.
- Threats - Threatening harm to anyone should not be tolerated. It is never acceptable to threaten to harm one's self, one's partner, a pet, or a loved one. This behavior is clear manipulation and a very concerning warning sign of an abusive relationship.
- Aggression or Violence - When someone acts out in aggressive ways (screaming at a partner, shoving or grabbing, throwing objects, slapping or hitting, driving at unsafe speeds), this creates a genuine risk to safety. If this is occurring the relationship is no longer balanced, healthy, or safe.