We know teens don’t always talk to parent, or doctors. As important as this communication is sometimes we have to read the signs. So, how do you know if your teen is in a healthy relationship? Their first relationship for them is exciting and new. As parents, you want to see them grow in these new environments, while making sure they are safe and making the right decisions. Instilling the ideals of a healthy relationship from the beginning is important. Demonstrate for them and help them understand what it’s like to be in a healthy relationship and identify the signs of an unhealthy one.
Explain the elements of a healthy relationship as they would experience them:
Mutual Respect – Do you like each other for the right reasons? Relationships should be based on liking someone for who they are and valuing their interests and limitations.
Trust – Partners should trust each other. Some jealousy is natural, but your girlfriend should not assume you’re cheating on her if she sees you talking to another girl in the hallway.
Honesty – Being caught, or catching the other in a lie is not fun and leads to distrust. If you lie to your boyfriend that you’re at work, but you’re with your friends, the next time he won’t believe you so easily.
Support – This is not just essential for the hard times but applies to every day. For example, going to his basketball game and cheering for him. You don’t have to go to every one, but support his interests.
Equality – Give and take in a relationship is necessary. Take turns choosing the movie. Hangout with each other’s friend groups equally. Don’t let it turn into a power struggle, be fair.
Separate Identity – Everyone needs to make compromises, but you don’t want to lose yourself in the relationship. You both have your own lives, friends, and interests, that shouldn’t change. Never pretend for the other person to have commonalities to make them like you.
Communication – Talk to each other about things that are important to you and share your feelings. Remember that boys can and are allowed to have emotions too.
What characterizes an unhealthy relationship?
Using verbal insults, negative language, put-downs, emotional manipulation, physical abuse and forced sexual activity.
What should teens be asking themselves?
Does he get angry when I don’t drop everything for him?
Does she criticize the way I dress?
Does he say “you’ll never be able to find anyone else who would date you”?
Does she keep me from my friends, or talking to other girls?
Does he force me to do things sexually that I don’t want?
When in love teens will sometimes make excuses or misinterpret violence, possessiveness, and anger, especially when the other person is apologetic afterward. But even if they say they love each other, it’s still an unhealthy relationship.
First love should be exciting, fun, romantic, with some intense feeling and occasional heartbreak but shouldn’t be controlling or uncomfortable. Sometimes relationships are just hard when both people struggle with self-esteem like most teenagers. Self-love is important when entering a relationship so they can love the other person. Everyone has to love themselves before they can love another.