Tips for Maintaining Healthy Relationships

Whether it’s wanting more friends, noticing subtle differences in a friendship since the coronavirus pandemic, or wondering whether a close relationship with an intimate partner is really healthy for us – this is a good time to reexamine our needs and our choices.             

Covid-19 has affected our lives and daily routines in so many ways. The new normal involves practicing social distancing in public but also staying at home more in isolation or in small groups. For some, being at home is positive, but for others it involves being around people who are not comforting. “We recognize that home life may not be idyllic for some students for many reasons, or it may simply be stressful due to multiple impacts of the pandemic on families and communities,” noted Tiffiny Hughes-Troutman, director of the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE). Also, health concerns and current events can contribute to stress and tensions in relationships. 

The pandemic has also affected our friendships and romantic relationships. Some struggle to keep their relationships afloat as they balance changes and responsibilities, while others mourn for the relationships they had pre-pandemic. It’s more important than ever to find a balance between your self-care and maintaining a good relationship with your friends, family members, and partners during these trying times. 

“This is the perfect time to practice self-care, schedule breaks in your routine, and find a way to stay connected with those who care about you. Go for a walk, exercise, or unwind listening to music or watching your favorite TV show,” Adam Rodriguez, clinical case manager in CARE, said. “It’s important to maintain some type of routine.” 

Whether it’s a friendship, a family member, or a relationship with a partner, it is important to recognize what constitutes a satisfying and happy relationship. There are ups and downs in any relationship, but it’s during difficult times that we have an opportunity to learn and grow. Here are several tips to help foster healthy relationships:

  • Practice self-care — Journal or engage in creative, healthy self-expression when you feel worried; practice mindfulness, meditation, and aromatherapy; get adequate sleep and nutrition. See healthinitiatives.gatech.edu/well-being/mental/self-care for additional information.
  • Have empathy — This is a stressful time for everyone, but stress is subjectively experienced, so recognize that others may react differently from you.
  • Practice good communication — Being attentive when your friend, family member, or partner speaks and understanding where they are coming from can help strengthen the relationship. Communicate your personal needs and wants to others, and come up with a compromise if there are disagreements. 
  • Trust — One element of trust is respecting each other’s privacy and personal space. You should feel comfortable that a loved one has your back during the good and bad times. 
  • Maintain confidence in your own identity — It’s important to accept and love yourself and know your strengths and weaknesses in order to be in any healthy relationship.
  • Respecting each other — Show respect for others’ differences and value their beliefs and opinions, even if they are not the same as yours. 
  • Set honest expectations — Unmet and unspoken expectations of others can be detrimental to your relationships. Be honest about what you want out of a relationship. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are numerous signs of an abusive relationship. This information comes from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

1.     Your partner has hit you, beat you, or strangled you in the past.

2.     Your partner is possessive. They check up on you constantly, wondering where you are; they get mad at you for hanging out with certain people if you don’t do what they say.

3.     Your partner is jealous. (A small amount of jealousy is normal and healthy.) However, if they accuse you of being unfaithful or isolate you from family or friends, that means the jealousy has gone too far.

4.     Your partner puts you down. They attack your intelligence, looks, mental health, or capabilities. They blame you for all of their violent outbursts and tell you nobody else will want you if you leave.

5.     Your partner threatens you or your family.

6.     Your partner physically and sexually abuses you. If they ever push, shove, or hit you, or make you have sex with them when you don’t want to, they are abusing you (even if it doesn’t happen all the time).

Resources

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, please call VOICE at 404.385.4464 or 404.385.4451. VOICE provides support to victim-survivors of sexual violence and those supporting survivors, and educates the campus community about healthy relationships and sexual violence. After hours: Call the Georgia Tech Police Department at 404.894.2500 and ask to speak to the VOICE on-call advocate.

Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233, or 1.800.787.3224 for TTY, or thehotline.org if you can’t talk on the phone.

If you are in an intimate relationship and you or your partner are experiencing challenges, seek help. Contact the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE) at 404.894.3498 for appointments. 

Information on the Center for Assessment, Referral, and Education (CARE):

404.894.3498

care.gatech.edu