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Healthy relationships

Building skills to develop healthy relationships is an important part of the college experience for many students. Going to college can often mean a lot of “firsts” with regard to relationships. Some examples are the first time being away from your family, the first time living with a roommate, and the first serious or long-term romantic relationship. On top of that, many students are also managing relationships with professors, academic advisors, and bosses or supervisors at the same time. All these changes really emphasize the importance of having the right skills to make sure relationships are positive, productive and drama-free.

The best way to make sure that your relationships are healthy is to improve your communication skills. Probably the most important skills to develop are listening, assertiveness, and fair fighting.

Active listening. Active listening means focusing on the person who is speaking with your full attention in order to make that person feel heard. Feeling heard and understood increases connection and closeness and reduces defensive feelings. When the other person feels heard and understood, chances are he or she will want to reciprocate.

Assertiveness. Assertiveness means being able to stand up for your personal rights by saying” no.” It also means you ask for what you want, in a way that maintains your self-respect and the respect of others. Developing assertiveness skills usually takes time and practice, and for most people it’s a process that might not go smoothly right away. If you want to work on practicing assertive responses with a counselor, we offer group therapy and workshops that could be particularly helpful for building these skills.

Fair fighting. Fair fighting Remember that disagreements happen in all relationships, even healthy ones. We all make mistakes sometimes and in a healthy relationship voicing your feelings (even anger) can help to clear the air if done in a respectful way.


Relationship Building

Facing trauma and trying to cope with troubling thoughts and emotions can lead to social isolation and fear of reaching out. However, developing and maintaining an effective support system is critical to our mental health.

In this course, you will discover best practices in developing effective support systems, both at home and at work. The course is designed for and from a first responder perspective and addresses challenges around shift work, absences from home, and work/life balance for the families of first responders.

You will gain a deeper understanding of the connection between relationships at work, home, and the broader community and positive mental health, including the importance of developing relationships in the key relational spheres. You will learn skills and awareness needed to offer support to other first responders and build confidence to initiate challenging conversations at work and at home. You will explore the impact of culture and learn how to incorporate its role in those you interact with at work, at home, and in your community.


Healthy Relationships: Definition, Why They’re Good for You, and How to Foster Them

Not all relationships are healthy.What Is a Toxic Relationship?

Some relationships are toxic, which involves an unhealthy cycle of communication that’s not always deliberate, Leader says.

According to, a site from the nonprofit Theresa’s Fund that spreads awareness on domestic violence, a toxic relationship is one that leans unhealthy for some reason, such as if boundaries aren’t being respected or there’s a lack of respect in general. It doesn’t mean that abuse is present, but it can escalate into an abusive relationship.

Sometimes people exhibit toxic behaviors when they’re going through a tough time, Aasmundsen-Fry says. They can also be more common among those who had unhealthy relationships in early life, according to the NIH.

In toxic relationships, one might start lying or picking fights with their partner even though they do not intend to have power or control over them, Aasmundsen-Fry says.What Is an Abusive Relationship?

Abusive relationships, on the other hand, do involve one person trying to remain in control and with power in the relationship, according to Planned Parenthood. These relationships feature abuse in some capacity: physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional. When a romantic partner is involved, the abuse is called domestic or intimate partner violence, which involves a partner exhibiting behaviors where they try to control or have power over the other person.

Typically, the person being abused will be forced by the abuser to withdraw from friends and family.“This is usually done to keep the abused person isolated and easier to manipulate,” Aasmundsen-Fry says.Other Ways a Relationship Can Be Unhealthy

Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s not necessarily toxic or abusive, but you’re not benefiting from it. “I would consider these relationships as one-directional or uneven,” Aasmundsen-Fry says, adding that’s more of a way of characterizing the relationship than a clinical term. “Often these occur when both people have misaligned goals or one person is more committed to the relationship or emotionally available. It usually leaves one or both people feeling disappointed as their needs are not met.”

Wondering if you’re in an unhealthy relationship? Foundry BC, an organization from the British Columbia government focused on wellness, suggests asking yourself these questions to determine if it’s healthy or not. These questions were written to assess a romantic relationship, but many apply to other relationships as well:Do I feel safe with my partner?Can I be myself around this person?Can I tell them how I really feel?Do we listen to one another’s concerns?Do I trust them?Is the power balance equal?Does my partner support me?Do they try things I like?Do I feel good about myself when I’m with them?Am I happy in the relationship?

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