Is my relationship normal?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A NORMAL RELATIONSHIP?
Healthy relationships involve honesty, trust, respect and open communication between partners and they take effort and compromise from both people. There is no imbalance of power. Partners respect each other's independence, can make their own decisions without fear of retribution or retaliation, and share decisions.
It’s natural for children and teenagers to be curious about sex and relationships as they grow older. But for some parents and carers, their child starting a new relationship or to have sex can also be a worrying time. More young people are also starting relationships online, or use things like social media or video apps to communicate with their partners.
Here are some videos that might help with understanding about relationships:
- 8 Habits of a Healthy Relationship - Link
- What Makes a Relationship Healthy? - Link
- 12 Signs your in a Healthy Relationship - Link
Tips for healthy relationships
Healthy relationships have been shown to increase our happiness, improve health and reduce stress. Studies show that people with healthy relationships have more happiness and less stress. There are basic ways to make relationships healthy, even though each relationship is different. These tips apply to all kinds of relationships: friendships, work and family relationships, and romantic partnerships.
Keep expectations realistic - No one can be everything we might want them to be. Healthy relationships mean accepting people as they are and not trying to change them.
Talk with each other. It can't be said enough: communication is essential to healthy relationships.
- Take the time. Really be there.
- Genuinely listen. Do not interrupt or plan what you’re going to say next. Try to fully understand their perspective.
- Ask questions. Show you are interested. Ask about their experiences, feelings, opinions, and interests.
- Share information. Studies show that sharing information helps relationships begin. Let people know who you are, but don’t overwhelm with too much personal information too soon.
Be flexible - It is natural to feel uneasy about changes. Healthy relationships allow for change and growth.
Take care of yourself, too - Healthy relationships are mutual, with room for both people’s needs.
Be dependable - If you make plans with someone, follow through. If you take on a responsibility, complete it. Healthy relationships are trustworthy.
Fight fair - Most relationships have some conflict. It only means you disagree about something; it does not have to mean you don't like each other.
- Cool down before talking. The conversation will be more productive if you have it when your emotions have cooled off a little, so you don’t say something you may regret later.
- Use “I statements.” Share how you feel and what you want without assigning blame or motives. E.g. “When you don’t call me, I start to feel like you don’t care about me” vs. “You never call me when you’re away. I guess I’m the only one who cares about this relationship.”
- Keep your language clear and specific. Try to factually describe behaviour that you are upset with, avoiding criticism and judgment. Attack the problem, not the person.
- Focus on the current issue. The conversation is likely to get bogged down if you pile on everything that bothers you. Avoid using “always” and “never” language and address one issue at a time.
- Take responsibility for mistakes. Apologise if you have done something wrong; it goes a long way towards setting things right again.
- Recognise some problems are not easily solved. Not all differences or difficulties can be resolved. You are different people, and your values, beliefs, habits, and personality may not always be in alignment. Communication goes a long way towards helping you understand each other and address concerns, but some things are deeply rooted and may not change significantly. It is important to figure out for yourself what you can accept, or when a relationship is no longer healthy for you.
Keep your life balanced - Other people help make our lives satisfying but they cannot meet every need. Find what interests you and become involved. Healthy relationships have room for outside activities.
It’s a process - It might look like everyne is confident and connected, but most people share concerns about fitting in and getting along with others. It takes time to meet people and get to know them. Healthy relationships can be learned and practised, and keep getting better.
Be yourself! - It's much easier and more fun to be authentic than to pretend to be something or someone else. Healthy relationships are made of real people.
How to talk to your child about relationships - Guidance from the NSPCC
Many parents or carers may feel awkward or uncomfortable talking to their child about relationships and sex. But there are ways you can make the conversation easier.
Try to find a good time to start a conversation. Pick a time when your child’s relaxed and when there aren’t other people in your family around.
You might want to have the conversation in a neutral place, such as on a walk or a bike ride, or even in the car, rather than somewhere at home where you might be interrupted.
It can help to make the conversation relevant to something that’s happened recently. For example, if you’ve been watching a TV series or film where one of the characters is in a relationship. You could ask your child what they think about the character’s relationship and if it’s healthy or unhealthy.
If your child’s been learning about sex and relationships education in school, you could ask them how they’re finding this or what everyone in the class thought about it.
Try not to rush the conversation and let your child talk to you in their own time. It can help to have several short conversations rather than trying to cover everything at once. If your child feels uncomfortable, let them know that you’re there if they want to talk to you about relationships at a different time.
WHO MIGHT BE ABLE TO HELP?
Despite trying hard to do things yourself, we always need more help sometimes, remember that this is okay, that it is normal, and it is brave to admit as such. See below for some useful links to further support:
Kooth offers confidential online support for young people aged 11 to 18 at Kooth.com
Relate The relationship people have some quick guides on getting together with someone, breaking up and some common problems you might experience.
BBC Bitesize has summarise a really useful wealth of information on healthy relationships.