.... is not your romantic one (if any).
As much as movies or Instagram posts may try to tell us otherwise, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself! Often when we hear that word, labels such as wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner or even the name of your crush will come to mind. That’s okay! Along with romantic and sexual relationships, there’s also the relationships you have with your family, BFF, friends, teachers, pets, and maybe even your neighbour. The quality of all these relationships stem back to the one you have with yourself. By being with yourself, we don’t mean sitting alone waiting for your phone to ring, or moping about being lonely. It’s about feeling empowered and feeling totally okay when you are on your own, feeling good to be alone than feeling lonely. Being independent doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or enjoy being with the ones you love! What we are saying is the more you give to yourself, like the energy and time you give to those around you, is equally transforming!
Healthy relationships take time and work, but let’s make it clear, they shouldn’t take so much work that you feel emotionally exhausted, guilty, or unhappy. When you are in a romantic relationship, both people should feel whole independently, and complete on their own. Instead of completing each other, they compliment. Have you established boundaries in this relationship? What does that even mean? When you are in a romantic and/or sexual relationship, you have dating rights aka your partner doesn’t “own” you and vice versa. No two relationships have the exact same boundaries, so it’s up to you and your partner to discuss and decide what the boundaries will be for you two.
Don’t worry, we got you! Here are some boundaries you could bring up, depending on the relationship!
- Physical: levels of sexual comfort, consent
- Emotional: exclusivity
- Mental: try to avoid sayings like, “you are my everything” or “I’d die without you”
- Sexual: consent, transparency on testing, STIs etc
- Intellectual: being able to have your own opinions on things, your own likes and dislikes
- Material: ex. setting $ limits on gifts
Oh! It’s also super helpful to know your love language. This personality test has been all the talk online and for good reason. It’s a free online quiz by Dr. Gary Chapman that has been popular amongst all people, in romantic relationships or not, to better understand how they feel love and receive love. It’s also just incredibly fun to know how those around you feel love so that you can gear your relationship towards that. Whether it is acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, or touch, we want to know your love language!
When you are dating someone, communication is… you’ve heard it, key. *Cue DJ Khalid’s Major Key!* Communication isn’t a one time thing. It is a practice, no different from your morning and night time routine. It’s an ongoing thing, and like any good thing, healthy communication takes time and patience to figure out! On the other hand, there are patterns that raise red flags and should not be tolerated or left ongoing. Unhealthy and toxic relationship patterns can be hard to define, but the gut feelings you get aren’t ones to be ignored. Red flags include heavy reliance on the other person and loss of independence, manipulation like “don’t you trust me?” or “you’re crazy!” and dating violence. Dating violence isn’t always physical, often and unfortunately, it can be sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse. It is important to remember that dating violence can happen to anyone, and that if you feel this pertains to you, that your feelings are valid and help is available.
If you or a friend has any further questions, Sex Sense has a great contact form that’s easy to fill out and is simply there to help you make sense of sex.
For a 24/7 year round contact, loveisrespect.org has a helpline: 1-866-331-9474.