Valentines Day is just around the corner and advertisements for couples activities and gifts are everywhere. That being said, there is still a huge disconnect when it comes to health and safety in relationships, especially for teenagers. This article will discuss the best ways to set boundaries and keep conversations open so that partners can be more understanding and aware of each other.
One of the best ways to keep relationships healthy is open communication. Open communication sounds easy but it can actually be very challenging. To have proper communication, you need to listen just as much as you talk and make sure you say everything you want and intend to say. For example, say you saw your partner flirting with another person. In this scenario, you would likely immediately confront them. Most would ask why they were flirting or if they were flirting. These are good starts but the best way to start this conversation is to state how you noticed them being very close with someone and it made you question if they were flirting. Notice how this way was less accusatory and more focused on actual visual hints and how you interpreted it, this leaves room for clarification from your partner and less stress. To reiterate, when bringing up an issue, start talking about the situation objectively and then insert your perception of the event and how it was upsetting to you. Be sure to listen to what your partner says and their point of view as it can shine a light on what really happened.
The next step after communicating an issue with a partner is finding and negotiating a solution to the issue. A lot of people believe that a viable solution is to just drop the topic or to learn to live with the issue. However, that is incorrect. Dropping/dealing with an issue almost always leads to resentment that inevitably becomes the source of major issues. The best way to solve an issue is to continue communicating and establish healthy boundaries that avoid unwanted behavior. Some of you may be asking: “What boundaries?” The textbook definition of boundaries is a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. To put it simply boundaries are like rules — they are personal limitations and relationship limitations that both parties must abide by. For example, say our couple is discussing the flirting situation. Partner A who brought up the issue believes that Partner B should create more bodily distance when being around other people. When suggesting boundaries like this, it is necessary to communicate why you want your partner’s behavior to change and how you don’t want to negatively impact their personal relationships. Keep in mind that just like consent your partner can agree to boundaries and then realize they don’t like them and communicate changing them.
At the end of the day some relationships need different things and some partners won’t be this easy to communicate with but if you as an individual take this mentality and apply it to all your relationships, whether romantic or platonic, it will make them significantly more healthy.