Successful relationships bring happiness and health to our lives. Studies show that people with healthy relationships really do have more happiness and less stress. While no successful relationship is perfect and we all have bad days, students should be able to evaluate their relationships and feel, on the whole, that they are positive and healthy.
- A healthy relationship attitude is: “Your needs are important, and my needs are important. Let’s find a way to compromise.”
- Do not “mind-read”, that is, do not tell the other person what he or she is feeling or thinking. Likewise, don’t expect your partner to read your mind.
- Avoid using words like “always”, “never” as in “You never…”. These global words breed defensiveness in the other person.
- Avoid right-wrong, good-bad discussions. When differences arise look for compromises. All good relationships are based on compromises.
- Use “I feel” messages instead of “You are…” messages. For example, say “I feel hurt when you ignore me” and not “You are selfish and inconsiderate for ignoring me.”
- Be direct and honest. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
- If you have a complaint, complain only about a specific aspect of his or her behavior. Do not criticize the person.
- Soft start-up. Start a difficult or controversial conversation in a gentle way.
- Edit yourself. Don’t allow yourself to say mean things.
- Express admiration and fondness for each other.
- Learn effective “Repair Mechanisms”. Every relationship has some conflict. Knowing how to make up, or “repair” the relationship is an extremely important component of a healthy relationship. For example, humor, touch, or apologizing, are several possible mechanisms that lead to repairing the rift.
- Soothe your partner. Learn what soothes the other person, and then do it. It might be a hug, taking a walk, or anything that you calms and comforts your partner.
Compiled by Mariette Brouwers, Ph.D. OSU Counseling and Psychological Services. 541-737-2131