Romantic Relationships & Red Flags
February: Healthy Relationships
by Astrid Newton
Valentine’s Day is drawing nearer. We’re young, and romantic relationships are being highlighted and perpetuated as vital everywhere in our culture, with romance and dating being the main focus in many TV shows, movies, books, etc. It can feel really lonely and isolating when you feel like everyone around you has a thing with someone, and not much is happening for you in the romantic department.
I can be the first to tell you that it’s not a fantastic way to feel.
However, the negative connotations around being single that this society often perpetuates, leads many teen girls to rush in to less-than-healthy relationships that can leave long-term emotional damage. I’d like to impart some of my knowledge and thoughts on self-preservation and what the standard is for a happy, healthy partnership.
When it comes to identifying unhealthy relationships, there are some red flags that can be recognizable right from the start. The first may seem somewhat obvious but is a factor that many overlook; your relationship should not be founded on lies or false premises. Age is a frighteningly common example of this. You shouldn’t have to lie about your age to fall into someone else’s set of standards, and if you do, the relationship is already going down a bad path. In turn, the individual you’re romantically interested in should never lie about their age, because not only is it simply shocking and hurtful when you find out later on, it means their character is generally untrustworthy. This applies to aspects other than age, of course, but that is an example of incidents that my friends and I have dealt with personally.
My second point has more to do with the social dynamics of a relationship. Say you’re dating this person. Every time you see each other, you do more making out than talking, and on the periods of time when you can’t see each other, you don’t communicate much by texting, calling, Snapping. If this sounds familiar to a situation you’re in, you’re likely involved in a toxic relationship. The thing many young people fail to understand is that your romantic relationship shouldn’t be centered around physical intimacy. (Considering the age of the general target audience of this article, there shouldn’t be too much of that anyhow, as it can be unsafe/unhealthy.)
Ideally, you should be dating each other because you genuinely enjoy each other’s personality and presence, and their positive qualities should outnumber their negative ones. I also ought to mention that you should never enter a relationship with the mindset that you can fix the other person. Not only is it very unlikely that you’ll be able to stamp out the qualities you dislike about them, the very fact that you see a need to fix those traits in the first place, is a sure sign your personalities aren’t really compatible.
I know from experience that dating may seem like a priority right now. If a relationship is something you want for yourself, by all means, pursue it. However, please never sacrifice close friends, attentiveness to your education, or your own happiness because you want to rush into something. It’s definitely easier said than done, and I’m still learning how to take my own advice half the time. However, I’m a firm believer that all experiences, good and bad, shape us into better people in the long run. So on that journey, I wish you all the best!