We spend about sixteen years preparing for a career, but how often do we spend time preparing for a healthy relationship? As college students, we always focus on what constitutes an “unhealthy relationship,” but we never focus on what a “healthy relationship” entails. After surveying approximately 75 UTEP college students, they all agreed that a healthy relationship consists of four elements: mutual respect, trust and support, honesty, and good communication. All of these elements entail respecting each other’s personal space and time, accepting responsibility, valuing opinions, and communicating openly and fairly. All of these are helpful advice, but after observing many behaviors of a college relationship, here are some tips on maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner in college.
- Be aware of what both you and your partner want for yourselves and for the relationship.
- Express your needs to each other.
- Be willing to negotiate and compromise.
- Your partner may not meet your expectations, so DO NOT demand change from them. Learn to accept their differences.
- Be empathetic.
- Try your best to treat your partner with respect and act in ways that say, “I love and value you, and I want to continue building this relationship with you.”
Keep in mind that these are just useful tips that college students can follow. Many students enter their first serious relationship in college. The first months of a relationship are usually exciting and effortless, but a lasting relationship will take more effort. There is no class that students can take on relationship skills, but knowing what a good and healthy relationship looks like and distinguishing it from an unhealthy one will provide longevity for a relationship.
Also, be aware that healthy relationships are not always the easiest to maintain, but there should be no excuse for domestic abuse in a relationship. Dating violence is a common factor among many college campuses and can happen in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. In fact, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Partner Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Twenty people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United States” (Centers for Disease, 2010). As college students, if at any time you feel unsafe in your relationships, help is always readily available both on and off campus. For more information on campus and off campus resources click HERE
David Bowens is a senior majoring in Health Promotion and minoring in African-American Studies. He is involved with many UTEP organizations, such as Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Eta Sigma Gamma, and Black Student Union. David has a passion for social justice and health equity, specifically focusing on eliminating health disparities within communities of colors through non-traditional approaches. David is set to graduate this Fall 2015 semester and plans on pursuing an MPH with a focus in Health Behavior and Health Promotion.