Although we have different types of loving relationships, we often look for the same qualities in the people we want close to us. We all want people to respect our opinions, to encourage our dreams, and to support us in hard times. So even though our relationships with our parents, our best friend, and our dating partner(s) are different, there is a similarity in that caring people treat us in ways that help us feel good about ourselves.
Think of a time when you felt respected by someone you were close to. What did that person do to make you feel respected and/or loved? How did you treat them in return? What are important ways you want to be treated in a relationship?
During our in-class presentations, we work with students to write a list of the ways they want to be treated within a relationship. Oftentimes students will respond with: “I want to be loved,” “I want to be romanced,” “I want to be cared for,” “I want to be respected,” “I want to be heard,” “I want to be supported,” etc. An important component of healthy relationships is knowing what you want out of relationship. Knowing how you want to be treated by a dating partner is a great way to know how you don’t want to be treated by a dating partner.
Below is a diagram known as the teen equality wheel borrowed from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence that provides some basic themes needed in order to sustain a healthy and equitable relationship. Themes such as…
Negotiation & Fairness
Trust & Support
Honesty & Accountability
Self Confidence & Personal Growth
…are extremely helpful tools to utilize in forming healthy relationships.
If you were to make a list of the two most important ways you want to be treated, which things would you include? These two things are your bottom line. These are the things that you must have in a relationship. When you’re dating someone, go over this list every once in a while to see if you’re getting the things that are most important to you in the relationship. We all have choices in how we want to be treated. If you aren’t getting the things that are most important to you, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.
We can all choose how we want to be treated by our dating partners and choose the way that we want to treat them in return. Author, feminist, teacher and scholar bell hooks wrote, “But love is really more of an interactive process. It’s about what we do, not just what we feel. It’s a verb, not a noun.”
What are your bottom line needs within a relationship?