Healthy Relationships

Young women's version of this guide
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tres amigos reunidosHealthy relationships are an important part of life. You can have a healthy relationship with anyone in your life, including your family, friends and dating partners. Relationships take time, energy, and care to make them healthy. The relationships that you make in your teen years can be a special part of your life and will teach you some of the most important lessons about who you are.

What makes a relationship healthy?

Communication & Sharing: An important part of any healthy relationship is being able to talk and listen to one another. You and the other person can figure out what your common interests are. You can talk about things that are important to youand trust that they will listen and support you. Good communication is based on honesty and trust. By listening carefully and sharing your thoughts and feelings with another person, you show them that they are an important part of your life.

Respect and Trust: In healthy relationships, you learn to respect and trust important people in your life. Disagreements may still happen, but you learn to stay calm and talk about how you disagree. Talking calmly helps you to understand the real reason for not getting along, and it’s much easier to figure out how to fix it. In healthy relationships, people respect each other for who they are. This includes respecting yourself and your own feelings.

How do I know that I have a healthy relationship with someone?

  • You know that you are in a healthy relationship with someone because you feel good about yourself when you are around that person. Unhealthy relationships can make you feel sad, angry, scared, or worried.
  • Healthy peer relationships involve an equal amount of give and take. In unhealthy relationships, there is an unfair balance with one person feeling that they are doing most of the giving.
  • You should feel safe around the other person and feel that you can trust him/her. In a healthy relationship, you like to spend time with the other person, instead of feeling like you’re pressured into spending time with them. Unhealthy relationships do not include trust and respect, which are very important parts of a family relationship, good friendship, or dating relationship. No one deserves to be in an unhealthy relationship.
If you don’t feel that there is communication, sharing and trust, you are probably in an unhealthy relationship. You may want to try talking to the other person about how you are feeling, which is not always easy but gets easier with practice. You may even need to end the relationship.

Sibling Relationships

Your brothers and sisters can upset you sometimes. You may get angry if they take something that is yours, tease you, or bother you when you have friends over.

When you argue with your friends, you can go home and get away from them. However, when you argue with a brother or sister, you may feel like you can’t get away from them. Talking things out and coming up with rules that you and your brothers and sisters agree on will make your relationship with them a lot easier.

Here are some ways to handle an argument and help you to avoid fighting with your brother(s) or sister(s):

  • Take some time apart before you lose your temper in an argument.
  • Talk to your parents about what is bothering you. Most likely they will be able to give you advice.
  • Set up your own personal space. Even if you share a bedroom, make a little space (even in a corner of your bedroom) that is all yours. Tell your brother or sister that they need to knock before coming into your bedroom or your special area of a shared bedroom.
  • Respect your brother or sister’s personal space too – whether it is their room or a part of your shared bedroom. They will be more likely to show you the same respect in return.
  • Pick your battles. Try to figure out what is really bothering you. This will help you to know if the problem is worth arguing about. Some issues may be more important than others.

Relationships with Friends

“Why should I do what YOU say?”

Friendships can be complicated. One thing that can make any relationship complicated is peer pressure. Peer pressure is when you chose to do something you usually wouldn’t do, or you stop doing something that you normally would do because you are worried about what your friends will think. Some friends may pressure you to do something because “everyone else does it,” such as making fun of someone. One of the biggest challenges that you may have to face is standing up to a friend.

Here are tips to help you handle a disagreement with a friend:

  • You always have the right to say “no” to your friend whenever you want to. It is important that you show your friend the same respect when they say no to you.
  • If you and your friend disagree about something or have an argument, it does not mean that you have an unhealthy relationship. Healthy friendships involve trust and being able to respect each other’s differences.
  • The friends that you make and the relationships you develop will help you learn a lot about yourself. You will find out what things you like to do together but more importantly, you will learn about the kind of friends you want to have and the kind of friend you want to be to others.

Dating Relationships

There is no best age for teens to begin dating. A dating relationship is a special chance to get to know someone, share your thoughts and feelings with each other, and do activities together.

Healthy dating relationships should start with the same ingredients that healthy friendships have, such as good communication, honesty, and respect. As with all relationships, it may be tempting at first for you to spend all of your time with your new partner. Making time to spend together and apart means that you will be able to work on having a healthy relationship with the person you are dating and with other people in your life.

You should NEVER feel pressured to do something that you don’t want to do. The person you’re dating should always respect your right to say no to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s important that you are both clear with each other about your values and your limits.

Here are some tips for starting a healthy dating relationship and ways to stay safe:

  • Get to know a person by talking on the phone or in person before you go out with them for the first time.
  • Go out in a public place with a group of friends the first few times you are spending time together.
  • Plan fun activities such as going to the movies, the mall, a walk, etc.
  • Be clear with the other person about what you feel comfortable doing and what time your parent(s) or guardian(s) expect you to be home.
  • Tell a friend and your parent(s) or guardian(s) where you are going, who you will be with, and how to reach you.

Dating relationships can be a fun and exciting part of your life. They may be a little confusing, especially if dating is new to you. Once you know that the person you like, likes you too, you may be unsure of what to do next. You can start by learning about what makes a dating relationship healthy.

Relationships with Parents

Your relationship with your parents may be confusing right now. As you are growing and changing, you have more responsibilities and also more freedom to spend time with others. While you may feel ready to make your own decisions about where and when you go places, your parents may put limits on you because they care about you and your safety.

Here are some tips for how to avoid and handle arguments with your parents:

  • Discuss the rules ahead of time and not at the last minute.
  • Try to remain calm and do not lose your temper when your parents say no to something.
  • If you’re being responsible and following rules, your parents may be willing to negotiate now or in the future.
  • Pick your battles. Try to figure out what is really bothering you. This will help you to know if it is worth arguing about.
  • Spend time with your family. Communicate with each other and make some special family time so that you can all enjoy the time you spend at home.

Remember that healthy relationships are about feeling good about who YOU are and feeling SAFE and comfortable with another person. You have the power to create healthy relationships all around you just by paying attention to who you are and what makes you happy. By getting to know yourself, it will get easier to recognize the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Communication, trust and respect are the key ingredients for healthy relationships.