Relationships are one of the best parts of the college experience, and can also be one of the most challenging. Relationships also include creating healthy ones with yourself. The key to relationships is understanding what makes a healthy relationship and recognizing warning signs that a relationship may have become unhealthy. The resources below can help you do just that.
Characteristics of a Healthy, Functional Romantic Relationship (Campbell University)
What is a Healthy Relationship? (National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle)
Brene Brown on True Belonging - Everyone questions if they belong in the community they find themselves in. Belonging is a big part of relationships of all kinds, but most importantly within yourself. Read Brene Brown’s article to reflect on who your true self is to share with the world around you.
"Frientimacy: 3 Requirements to Fulfilling Relationships" - Our world is getting "better" at connecting us and yet we're reporting feeling more disconnected than ever. The issue: loneliness. The solution: understanding the 3 actions that lead to belonging. Shasta Nelson is passionate about all things friendship. As founder and CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com— the female-friendship learning community—she speaks and writes regularly on this important topic.
First of all - it's normal to struggle with this! Roughly half of people that come to college find it hard to make connections as well as half feel like everyone else has it figured out except for them. Many people feel some of the following at some point in college.
- Anxious about being away from parents, guardians, friends, siblings, or even pets.
- Anxious about doing well in college and meeting new people.
- Lonely or isolated.
- That everyone but me seems to be adjusting and having fun.
- Depressed or sad.
- Unmotivated to attend class, study, make friends, or even eat.
- A constant thought about home.
The most important things to remember is that you are not alone, and there are resources to help:
- Nudge yourself out of your comfort zone, pursue clubs or activities of interest to you, speak to someone who's alone at the dining hall or at an event, ask open-ended questions, set realistic expectations for the time it may take to cultivate new friendships.
- Conquering College is a program the office of Health Promotion and Wellness offers to help students reexamine their college expectations and myths about making friends. If you would like more information on when these programs will be please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-397-1973.
- Set up a Check-in with a trained Peer Health Advocate by emailing email@example.com
- Resident Advisors are fabulous resources on campus. Your RA is familiar with students who have expressed homesickness, and understand the demands of being a college student. Talk to your RA for support.
- The University Counseling Center is resource for any student who may feel the feelings of homesickness are persistent.
- Myth: There is a high rate of false reporting when it comes to rape and sexual violence.
- Fact: Research and data indicate that false reporting accounts for only 2% to 10% of all reports of sexual assault . It is also important to note that an estimated 63% of sexual assaults go unreported . In reality, there are many factors that result in sexual assault cases being dropped or deemed ‘unfounded’. “Unfounded cases include those that law enforcement believes do not meet the legal criteria for rape. It does not mean that some form of sexual assault may not have occurred…but only that the case does not meet the legal criteria”  or there is not enough evidence to proceed.
- Myth: Men rape women because they cannot control themselves.
- Fact: Rape is an act of violence committed out of desire for power and control. Many rapes are not impulsive acts, but are planned events.
- Myth: If a woman is wearing sexy clothing she is partially to blame if she is raped.
- Fact: The rapist does not care what the person is wearing. The rapist is seeking someone they can isolate and make vulnerable. The most common tool they use to do this is alcohol.
- Myth: If a victim has been drinking, then they are partially to blame if they are raped.
- Fact: Alcohol and drugs can render a victim incapable of consent. Drinking doesn’t provide a green light.
- Myth: If the victim did not put up a fight, then they were not actually raped.
- Fact: In most cases the victim is unable to fight back do to trauma, impairment, fear, and/or other factors.
- Myth: Most college aged women are raped by strangers.
- Fact: 90 percent of college-aged women are raped by someone they know.
- Myth: Only women are raped.
- Fact: 1 in 33 men in the United States have experienced sexual assault.
 Retrieved from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
- Tell your friends you are concerned- You can point out that the behavior is not normal and that they deserves a healthy relationship.
- Refer them to resources that can assist in developing a safety plan, such as the Counseling Center or the Domestic Violence Center.
- Be non-judgmental- Don’t ask questions like, “Why don’t you just break up?” Respect your friend’s decision to stay or to leave. Many individuals leave and return to abusive relationships multiple times. It is important to support them regardless of what you think is best.
- Continue to reach out- it is unlikely change will take place after one conversation. The goal of these conversations is to let them know that you care and support them, and that you are there for them should they need you in the future.
- Strength in numbers- seek the support of other concerned friends. Reaching out to other concerned peers can reassure you that you are not alone in your concerns, and you can lean on them for support when you need to have difficult conversations. Many people worry about gossip, but this is showing concern, not finding entertainment in other people by gossiping.
- Weighing the costs- using our strength of empathy. What happens if do help? What happens if we don’t? What world would we rather live in?
MyPlan App - This is a tool to help with safety decisions if you, or someone you care about, is experiencing abuse in their intimate relationship.
10 Signs of Healthy Relationships - Healthy relationships bring out the best in you and make you feel good about yourself. A healthy relationship does not mean a “perfect” relationship, and no one is healthy 100% of the time, but these signs are behaviors you should strive for in all of your relationships.
10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationships - While everyone does unhealthy things sometimes, we can all learn to love better by recognizing unhealthy signs and shifting to healthy behaviors. If you are seeing unhealthy signs in your relationship, it’s important not to ignore them and understand they can escalate to abuse.
The Four Horsemen - Being able to identify the Four Horsemen in your conflict discussions is a necessary first step to eliminating them and replacing them with healthy, productive communication patterns. These include criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
Every Person Has Infinite Worth - From Dr. Kent Hoffman: each of us carries within the gift of infinite worth. Find out what that means for us to walk in relationship with others with a new sense of interconnectedness.
Good Boundaries Free You - This Ted Talk explores the impact of those things you say "yes" to and the things you say "no" to. Boundaries can shape your life and relationships in many ways.
How to Create Healthy Boundaries - In this quick video, learn about what boundaries are AND how to create them to improve your life and your relationships.
Love Intently – You can listen to the Love Intently podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts or read their blog to discover your attachment style, your love personality, and speak with experts in the field about empowering yourself to have thriving relationships.
Social Wellness Toolkit – The National Institutes for Health (NIH) provides evidence-based tips for living well and improving your health. The social wellness toolkit provides tips on how to take care of yourself and strengthen social health.
Toxic Relationships - How to tell if you're in a toxic relationship and tips for fixing it, or if needed, ending that relationship.
Warning Signs of Abuse - Every relationship is different and partner violence doesn’t always look the same. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight and may emerge and intensify as a relationship grows. Check out The Hotline for some common signs of abusive behavior.
This is just a sampling of apps available to support you in developing your Relationships. On-campus and off-campus resources are also available to help support you with any concerns you may have in this area.
Emi Relationship Reminder - Get quick relationship reminders via push notifications to build healthy relationship habits. Emi provides the research and scientific context behind each exercise to learn more about the skills needed in healthy relationships. Free on iOS.
Gottman’s Card Decks - Curious what questions to ask to strengthen our relationship? Gotham’s Card Decks can help by offering questions and statements to discuss with your partner. Free on Apple and Android.
Splitwise - This app allows you to keep track of bills, split amongst roommates or friends, and see when bills are due. You can view your balances, track spending trends, set up email reminders and more. Free on Apple and Andriod.
Tody - Manage cleaning tasks with roommates and assign tasks to make your home and relationships tidy and clean! Free on Apple and Android.
- What is FOMO? The fear of missing out, or FOMO, refers to the feeling or perception that others are having more fun, living better lives, or experiencing better things than you are. It is the feeling that you are missing out on something fundamentally important that others are experiencing right now.
- Why is this important to college students? Adolescents and young people may be particularly susceptible to the effects of FOMO. Seeing friends and others posting on social media can lead to comparison and an intense fear of missing out on things their peers are experiencing. Research suggests that in some teens, FOMO can play a role in:
- Low self-esteem
- Risky behaviors
- How can I combat FOMO?
- Try a Digital Detox : Spending too much time on your phone or social media apps can increase FOMO. Reducing your usage, or even doing a digital detox where you take a break from digital devices, may help you focus more on your life without making constant comparisons.
- Keep a Journal: It is common to post on social media to keep a record of the fun things you do. However, you may find yourself noticing a little too much about whether people are validating your experiences online. If this is the case, you may want to take some of your photos and memories offline and keep a personal journal.
- Remind yourself that missing out sometimes is needed: Whether you need a social break, you are sick, you have homework, or just need to perform self-care, missing out is okay! Everyone misses out once in awhile, and prioritizing your mental and physical health, grades, or any other priority is more important than draining yourself over the fear of missing out.
Retrieved from Very Well Mind.
- What are healthy boundaries? Healthy boundaries are the limits you place around your time, emotions, body, and mental health to stay resilient, solid, and content with who you are. These empowering borders protect you from being used, drained, or manipulated by others.
- What can I set boundaries around? You can set boundaries around:
- Emotional energy
- Personal space
- Morals and ethics
- Material possessions and finances
- Social media
- Who can I set boundaries with?
- Romantic relationships
- Why do you need boundaries? Personal boundaries are at the root of a fulfilled, balanced life. Without them, people can quickly lose themselves in their work, relationships, familial obligations, or service to others. They can even wind up being exploited or taken advantage of by people who do not respect them.
- What are some ways I can set them?
- Visualize and name your limits: The first and most important step to defining your boundaries is to make them concrete. Boundaries are often confusing and abstract because they feel invisible in our daily lives.
- Openly communicate your boundaries: One of the biggest mistakes people make is setting boundaries in their minds but not openly sharing them with the people in their life. Sometimes people assume that you should know their boundaries. But if they didn’t clearly communicate where they’ve drawn the line, how will you know when you’ve overstepped it?
- Reiterate and uphold your boundaries: Not everyone will understand or respect your boundaries the first time. It’s essential to stand firm in your decision while kindly reminding them of your needs when necessary.
- Do not be afraid to say no: People afraid to say “no” often end up with an overflowing plate of duties and responsibilities that they can’t seem to keep up with. They tend to forgo their self-care as they frantically try to meet the demands of all the people and things they said “yes” to.
- Take time for yourself: Amidst our fast-moving world, self-care can feel selfish or even frivolous. But the science of self-care is clear: taking alone time for yourself is linked to more confidence, greater creativity, more emotional intelligence, and more emotional stability in challenging situations. It can even help prevent burnout.
Retrieved from Science of the People.