How do you manage the excitement of a new relationship and set down a healthy foundation for future happiness, for both people?
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS ARE BASED ON EQUALITY AND RESPECT
Self-respect is when you recognise that your basic rights and freedoms are worthy of other people’s respect.
Self-respect is important at any time, but when in a relationship with another person it’s essential. When you have an awareness of who you are and what’s important to you, you’re more likely to encourage and support your partner to remain true to themselves.
Self-respect is the best possible starting point for having a respectful relationship with another person.
Mutual respect is when you respect each other as individuals with equal rights, freedoms, opinions, beliefs, goals and dreams.
As individuals, you understand that you each have personal boundaries that should be respected, and a need for privacy, personal space, and personal time.
As equal contributors to the relationship you respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses and provide each other with support and encouragement.
Respectful relationship fundamentals
Apart from accepting each other’s basic rights and freedoms, there are fundamental principles found in all healthy and respectful relationships:
- Your relationship doesn’t compromise or reduce the importance of your other commitments – family, friends, study and professional requirements.
- You feel supported to maintain and develop your individual identity – new interests, hobbies, friends.
- Your relationship is grounded in trust – you feel trusted and you trust your partner.
- Your relationship encourages open and honest communication without fear or judgement.
- Conflict is handled respectfully and without pressure or intimidation.
- There is no power dynamic with one person exercising greater control or influence than the other.
- Both persons are considered equal.
Each relationship you have will be different – the initial attraction, individual wants and needs, shared goals, and future plans.
Other influences like social norms, media and gender can impact how a relationship develops.
When we enter into a relationship our inner worlds don’t just disappear. They may evolve and our priorities might change, but even when committed to what might be the most important relationship of our lives, we are still individuals with independent thoughts and needs.
Yes No I Don’t Know
YNIDK helps us with the tactical elements of shared decisions by giving both people a shared set of rules and expectations and a way to work out what’s reasonable, respectful and appropriate.
It also gives us a way to look back at the conflicts in our relationships and figure out what went wrong, and what either person should or could have done differently.
In any relationship, we try to influence each other all the time. This is a normal and healthy form of interaction if it is done respectfully and recognises the other person’s inner world, their rights and freedoms.
In any relationship there’ll be times when you want something, and your partner wants something different.
Maybe you decide to say yes to a decision because you see the value in making your partner happy rather than getting your own way. This is completely fine if you choose to make the decision freely without any pressure or coercion.
With big decisions, saying yes to keep the other person happy could be ignoring your inner world and individual goals. For the relationship to continue, compromise is required.
Compromise involves communication. It means talking to each other about individual and shared goals in a way that respects and acknowledges each other’s priorities.
It also might turn out that by trying to reach a compromise a bigger issue emerges. You may have to work out if your individual goals are actually compatible in the longer term.
No-one has the right to tell you how to feel and that you’re wrong for thinking one thing is important and not the other. What’s important to you is key to who you are.