Everyone deserves to have a healthy, satisfying, consensual and safe relationship, but how do we know if our relationship is healthy?
Relationships can be defined in different ways depending on who is involved: there are different ways of expressing affection and love, but healthy ones all depend on a few key elements: two-way communication, boundaries, mutual respect, and support for each other while allowing each other space and privacy.
Romantic relationships can be strongly influenced by inequality and power differences due to gender, age, economic, social, or health status. Knowing the difference between a respectful relationship and a disrespectful one can help people decide whether to end or stay in a relationship. Even in healthy relationships, it is helpful to gain awareness and learn how to start, maintain, and end a relationship.
We have devoted this chapter to further exploring ways to express affection and love while respecting one’s boundaries and defining what makes a relationship healthy.
Through the proposed activities, we emphasize the importance of becoming more aware of the intimate and close relationships we are involved in, from family relationships to friendships to romantic or sexual relationships: we are not dependent on just one relationship, such as with our parents or our romantic partners, but are part of a whole system of people around us. It is therefore useful to become more aware of how we organize our “emotional network.” Moreover, all our relationships are shaped by social and cultural norms and expectations that we reproduce as patterns in our individual behaviour and relationship dynamics. By understanding these patterns we are more likely to “unlearn” unhealthy behaviours, to avoid getting into undesirable situations, and to learn how to develop healthy and safe ways of relating.
If we learn to reflect and analyze the way we feel and behave within our relationships, we can develop “entrepreneurship” in our relationships. It is one thing to learn relationships in theory and another to learn them consciously. Non-formal activities, e.g. drama, can easily make interpersonal dynamics and power relationships visible, help us explore how to express emotions, practice acting and reacting in concrete situations. This way of learning is powerful: it allows us to think, feel and do at the same time and learn together to develop skills that can be easily integrated into daily life.
Healthy relationships, Love is respect, https://www.loveisrespect.org/everyone-deserves-a-healthy-relationship/