Katherine McNamara
May 23, 2015 8:06 am

A lot of girls I know think they have to be in a relationship to be complete. As such, they end up in relationships with whoever is around, whether or not they are the right person for them. Sometimes being in a relationship with yourself allows you to grow as a person. If you choose to be in a relationship, make sure it is with someone who will support your passions, love you for who you are, and who truly makes you happy.

You know how people say “You are what you eat”? Well, that same concept can apply to other aspects of life. The input you give your mind, body, and soul have a direct correlation with the kind of person you become, whether or not you realize it. For example, think about the five people closest to you. It could be parents, siblings, friends, teachers, or anyone else with whom you spend most of your time. What are these people’s traits? Are they optimists or pessimists? Do they treat people with respect or make mean comments to their face or behind their back? Do they treat themselves with respect? Do they support you in your efforts and dreams? Do they love you for who you are? The answers to these questions can help you determine if your relationships are healthy or not.

Okay, so what if your friend makes comments about other people you know? They’re kind of funny sometimes, right? Anyway, they’re just too busy to talk about your dream of majoring in mathematics or going to drama school, right? Or how about if they call you names like “stupid”or “ugly” or “idiot” — they’re just being sarcastic…right? These behaviors may seem completely harmless, but having that kind of toxicity from someone you spend a lot of time with can really affect you in a negative way. It’s amazing how much influence people who are close to you can have. Think about it…those people you are closest to are the ones with whom you swap opinions, share your most vulnerable feelings, talk about hopes and dreams, and just generally exchange energies. The unhealthy behaviors may seem minor, but they can add up quickly and before you know it, you may be picking up those same habits.

Healthy relationships are those in which both people reap benefits. They are those that involve mutual support and encouragement. Those you are closest to should be those you can share your thoughts and feelings with, without fear of being put down. You should feel at ease when discussing your hopes, ambitions, and plans for the future as you both learn and grow in life. In the healthiest of relationships, those involved bring out the best in each other. You push and challenge each other to grow as individuals, to try new things, and to chase your dreams. A healthy relationship gives you confidence in yourself to become the best version of you.

When we think of romantic relationships, we think of certain idealistic situations. Love at first sight. A perfect match. The fairytale ending. When we think of relationships, we can’t help but think of these ideas that were put before us as children. The magic and power of true love is touted in nearly every story ever written. As such, we as women often strive to find what we perceive to be perfection in our romantic relationships. What many women do not realize however, is that there is a definitive difference between fantasy and reality. While relationships can be perfect and lovely, they are not always easy. It is important to have realistic expectations. Being in a relationship with a normal, flawed human being is quite different than being in a relationship with the archetypal characters of lore. People are not perfect, but when the right two people come together, magic can happen.

Now, it would be nice if relationships were all sunshine and roses and people just fit perfectly, but that doesn’t always happen. People have differences of opinion and varying ways of living that can sometimes conflict. Which is where another aspect of healthy relationships comes in — compromise. No one is a fan of compromise, but it’s a necessary tool to make any relationship, romantic or otherwise, work cohesively. Now, before you go dreading these compromises, just wait, you never know what you will learn by looking at life from someone else’s perspective, especially someone you care about. It can actually be a welcome part of the whole challenging each other and growing as a person aspect of relationships.

Also, I have become acutely aware of the habit of some women who feel as though they need to be in a romantic relationship to have any self worth. They are overly-dependent on their partners for opinions, permission to do anything, how to think, how to dress, and nearly every other aspect of their lives. While there is nothing wrong with valuing your partner’s opinion, there’s no reason to change who you are inherently or make choices you disagree with just to make your partner happy. Compromise is essential, yes, but not to the point of compromising who you are, your integrity, or making you feel inferior or uncomfortable. If you are in a relationship and you are happy, good for you! Love is one of the most beautiful gifts and should truly be cherished. If you are single, have fun! Be a strong, confident woman and explore who you are as an individual. Find your own voice. Make your own way. Find your own light to shine to the world.

People often forget the importance of surrounding themselves with positivity. It can make such a difference when you spend time with people you build you and others up rather than tear them down. Also, it seems so simple, but don’t forget to treat those with whom you are in relationships the way you would want to be treated. Trust me, I’ve had the best and the worst types of relationships — your spirit can either soar or be weighed down depending on the types of people who influence you. Your soul is precious, your heart is a treasure. Guard them. Keep them safe for those who will help you to flourish and grow to your fullest potential.

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