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Evaluating Your Relationships

by Bailey Ly

It’s that time of the year again! Valentine’s Day, that one day of the year where you’re surrounded by mushy love. This day can be fun for some but can be a struggle for others. To me, it’s a day to celebrate relationships, whether with your significant other or your best pals. 

I spoke with Will Martinez from the Center for Health Education & Wellness about healthy relationships and he shared some tips to consider when evaluating your relationships in life regarding your partner, family, or friends. 

 There are six signs of a healthy relationship. If you and your friend/partner/family member are hitting all these signs, well, congratulations! 

  1. Being able to resolve conflict and issues in a calm matter. 
  2. You hear it all the time, communication is key! And it is in fact true. Letting the other person know how you feel and what you want is best for a relationship. In addition to expressing is listening, listening to the other person, this shows that you care about them and what they have to say. In regard to romantic relationships, communication is especially important when discussing sex and sexual history. It’s best to talk about sex before having it with your partner. 
  3. Giving your relationship time and energy shows that you’re committed to the relationship.
  4. When your relationship feels physically and psychologically/emotionally safe to both partners. 
  5. Respecting each other’s interests, identity, and commitments. Accepting each other for who they are and not wanting to change each other. 
  6. Having boundaries in the relationship. Developing independent personalities and relationships with other people. Not depending on each other for everything. In romantic relationships, establishing sexual boundaries and respecting your partner’s limits. Consent is key in a relationship. 

There are eight signs of an unhealthy relationship. Being controlling and using power over someone in the relationship is a toxic relationship. If you dread seeing the other person or spending time with them, this might be a sign to evaluate your relationship.

  1. Keeping each other from attending class and making grades suffer caused by lack of attendance is an example of academic abuse. Undermining academic status, grades, or intelligence by calling them dumb or not fit for college are other examples. 
  2. Embarrassing each other in front of other people to get a laugh out of people is not funny for any parties involved and is an example of emotional abuse and humiliation. This includes constant criticisms of everyday decisions, spreading rumors and lies about each other and making fun of clothes, weight, hair, skin, major, interest, friends, or family. 
  3. Possessiveness & harassment include stalking and constantly calling and messaging when apart, extreme jealousy, and monitoring phone, text messages, and social media.
  4. Using anger or the silent treatment as punishment for not obeying, requiring permission for activities, determining what clothes or activities partner can wear or do, treating a partner like a child, and making all the decisions in the relationship are prime examples of manipulation and limiting independence.
  5. Violence is never the answer to any conflict. Common examples of physical abuse are hurting each other directly like hitting, punching, slapping, kicking, pushing, pulling hair, biting, tripping, or grabbing the person. Throwing objects, punching in doors or walls, destroying valuables or sentimental items, prohibiting them from leaving a room to go to school or out with friends are all signs of physical abuse as well. Excuses are never a good sign and using alcohol or other drugs does not justify violent behavior.
  6. For romantic relationships, sexual abuse is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. Examples include using drugs or alcohol to get sex, pressuring or forcing a partner to engage in sexual activity, rape, and sexual assault, and using coercion and guilt to get sex. Any STI or HIV being transmitting without disclosing status to partner is another sign of sexual abuse. 
  7. Controlling who each other can spend time with, pressuring them to quit jobs or activities, getting in between their relationship with their parents are all signs of isolation.
  8. Threatening and intimidating each other that they will physically harm them is the last sign of an unhealthy relationship. Blackmailing them with knowledge of personal things, making them afraid, and using ultimatums are other examples.

Maintaining and evaluating relationships are important for college students. As students, we need support from people we surround ourselves with, especially because of how stressful school can get. We don’t need anything else bringing us down like toxic relationships or annoying drama. Not only do we have class and extracurricular activities to juggle but we are also learning about ourselves and figuring out who we are, so it’s best to have a good support system that is encouraging.

Seeking help

If you or a loved one are seeking resources for dating violence and abuse, visit Love is Respect. If you and your partner want to seek couples therapy, visit the Student Counseling Center (865-974-2196). The Dean of Students has a 24-hour referral line for students in distress and can be utilized by calling 974-HELP (865-974-4357)


Bailey Ly is a sophomore majoring in public relations with a minor in business administration. She is the undergraduate public relations intern for Student Life  Communications. Bailey is also the marketing chair for Campus Events Board Arts and Culture. She loves cooking and learning about new cultures.