How to build a healthy romantic relationship in 2018

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Welcome to a brand-new spring semester! Your schedule may be vastly different from this past fall, but there is one lesson you should take every single semester regardless of your major or year: the lesson of love!

Love hurts, but nothing can stop you from pursuing it. The desire to love and to be loved is as natural and essential in life as sunlight in summer. The ability to love someone in a healthy and continuous way will help you establish a solid foundation for a long-term relationship.

Here’s some things you should know in order to understand and build a healthy relationship this semester:

The beginning stages —

1. Love yourself before loving someone else

Our fear of loneliness drives us to constantly search for the right person to love, but remember that you can only learn to love someone else by first learning to accept and love yourself. Self-love, or more specifically self-compassion, allows you to view yourself — both strengths and flaws — with acceptance and kindness, and not be manipulated by negative emotions. It also makes you more caring and supportive in a relationship without being too insecure or controlling. It is important to note that loving yourself is not the same as having high self-esteem and feeling super good about yourself. It is about feeling compassionate toward and embracing every aspect of you.

2. Take the time to listen to and learn about the other person’s thoughts

Nowadays, a lot of relationships often end up being evasive and ambiguous, defying any labels or definitions. Since building a healthy relationship requires effort and resolutions from both sides, you should be aware of what the other person wants from the relationship, and then think about whether he or she is looking for the same kind of relationships as you are. Express your needs in direct, clear and observable terms, such as what specific things you would like the other person to do in the relationship. You should discover the other person’s interests so that you know what you would both enjoy doing with each other in the future.

As time goes by —

3. Recognize that change is inevitable

Nothing is more natural than encountering changes in a relationship. Feelings of love and passion wax and wane from time to time. Rather than forcing you and the other person to stay the same throughout the relationship, you should welcome and value these changes as opportunities to enhance your relationship. For example, as time goes by, you and your partner may not be able to spend as much time together as in the beginning of the relationship because of outside pressures such as school work or new commitments. Instead of jumping to negative conclusions or putting stress on both of you to maintain the same amount of time together, you should simply work together to reach a compromise. This form of communication will bring you closer and allow you to put more trust in each other.

4. Don’t shy away from conflicts, but fight fairly

Some couples tend to avoid conflicts at all costs, as they view them as threats to their relationships. However, unaddressed conflicts will accumulate over time and eventually become unresolvable. Thus, it is important for both of you to openly discuss any issues in the relationship, take responsibility for what you did wrong and try to reach a compromise that is fair to both sides. When addressing a conflict, each of you should be emotionally supportive of each other despite the logical discord. Accept that you and your partner are different people with different ways of expressing feelings and that it is unrealistic for your partner to fulfill your needs in the exact way you want them to.

Looking back in the end —

5. Remember that nothing is wrong with either of you

What the other does — whether that person is able to keep a promise or not — has nothing to do with you or your personal value. It is rather a choice made by the other person of his or her own volition regarding the relationship, which everyone has the right of making. The pain you feel when a relationship ends is often the indicator of your own insecurity, the fear toward loneliness and disappointment, the inability to independently make choices or an overreliance on memories of the past. They give birth to a storm inside yourself — one which you are the only person capable of quelling. Always believe that one day you will emerge from the storm as a stronger lover — and then you can say to yourself confidently: “I am willing to love again. I am ready to love again.”

Contact Raina Yang at [email protected].