Everyone deserves healthy relationships.
Every single day in our lives we navigate relationships; it’s part of what makes us human. At SHARPP, we envision a world where everyone experiences healthy relationships – with family, friends, colleagues, romantic partners, classmates, roommates, neighbors…and with themselves.
Our relationships may seem like the basic building blocks of our lives, but there is nothing basic about them! Relationships are complex, multi-faceted, evolving, transformative, and interconnected. They also don’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, we are immersed in cultures, politics, and systems of power & oppression that influence our relationships – even at the individual and interpersonal levels.
All this means that healthy relationships don’t just fall into our laps. They are created, developed, and achieved through daily efforts, behaviors, and choices. Let’s learn more…
What makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy?
All relationships have aspects that are healthy & unhealthy. Part of our daily work as humans is to unlearn the unhealthy ways that we may show up, and to move towards healthier dynamics. Importantly, healthy does not equal perfect. We don’t leave our stress, fear, anxiety, or baggage at the door when we enter into relationships, but in healthy relationships we can carry them with us while upholding the safety, dignity, and full humanity of ourselves and others. Healthy and unhealthy are not feelings – they are actions, choices, behaviors, and habits.
Watch the above video to learn more about the attributes of healthy & unhealthy relationships. Then, click the buttons below to download and save this information for yourself! Shoutout to the OneLove Foundation for these amazing materials.
Relationship Myths & Understandings
So much of how we show up in relationships is learned. We learn about relationships from our families and communities, from media and pop culture, from institutions such as education and religion, and even from the varied languages we speak. Unfortunately, not all of this learning is helpful or beneficial. As we grow, our ability to cultivate healthy relationships depends on replacing harmful relationship myths with truer and more constructive relationship understandings. Thank you to the Northwest Network for this concept!
- Love conquers all. Things will always work out in the end.
- If you are with the right person, it will feel easy.
- If someone really knows and cares about you, they’ll know what you want.
- Family over everything. Family bonds are unbreakable.
- Marriage and families make us complete.
- Everyone has a soulmate who can meet all of their needs.
Can you think of any others?
- Relationships are intentional and build through conscious choices.
- People are different from each other. Negotiation is essential.
- Ending or changing a relationship does not equal failure.
- One person cannot fulfill every need. We need community.
- The people who love us can still cause us harm.
- Nobody can read minds. Communication is key.
Can you think of any others?
How do I support someone in an unhealthy relationship?
For those experiencing unhealthy relationship dynamics, close friends and loved ones can be important sources of help, comfort, and support. If someone chooses to disclose this to you, here are some approaches to keep in mind:
- Listen & support: “Thank you for trusting me. I'm glad you told me.”
- Be patient: “I’m here if you need me or ever want to talk.”
- Validate: “You don’t deserve to be treated this way. You deserve to be treated with respect.”
- Remain open: “You know yourself best. What do you need?”
- Honor privacy: “You never need to share more than you want to.”
- Establish safety: “I want you to be safe. How can I be helpful?”
- Refer to resources: “I know a place on campus that can help. Want me to help you call?”
If you or someone you care about may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, SHARPP is here to help. Contact us to speak with an advocate.
There is so much more to learn on this topic. If you think that your community, org, class, chapter, team, etc. could benefit from a workshop on healthy relationships or relationship abuse, request SHARPP's "Healthy Relationships" or "None of Your Business?" programs!