Love and Relationships

What is Love?

Romantic Love. The relationship and the partner is seen through "rose colored glasses." One's partner can do no wrong. This type of love is often seen at the beginning of a relationship.

Nurturing Love. Each person encourages and nourishes the other. Each has nurturing friendships outside the relationship. If one partner ends the relationship, the other will experience grief but not self-destructive devastation.

Addictive Love. The person is totally dependent on another for love, happiness, and security. If the relationship ends, the person is devastated.

Ingredients for a Healthy Relationship

Shared Power. In general, each person has an equal say in the relationship; although at times, one person may have greater say because of expertise in an area.

Commitment. Each person makes a commitment to care about the other person, the relationship, and themselves.

Enjoy Coupleness. The individuals view themselves as part of a couple which brings each more happiness and allows each to be stronger.

Trust. Confidence in your partner and in yourself. Each person is reliable and honest.

Positive Fighting. Each recognizes that at times they will disagree and have developed skills to positively negotiate these disagreements.

Acceptance of Differences. Each person is valued for who they are and what they bring to the relationship. Differences in thoughts, feelings, values, looks, etc., are accepted and respected.

"We"ness. While there are differences, there are also shared goals, values, interests, etc. that promote a sense of coupleness.

Sharing Time. The individuals spend time together sharing thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This includes sharing sadness as well as happiness. Also, time is spent doing activities together (both work and play).

Personal Time. While they relish their time together, the couple does not aim to be close all the time. Each person in the relationship has some independence and privacy.

Curiosity. Each person takes an interest in the other's job and activities. They care about the quality of each other's life.

Embraces Change. Each believes that personal change helps make the relationship interesting and supports the personal growth of their partner.

Something Special. Each person remembers that his/her connection to his/her partner is independent of their relationships with parents, children, and friends and does not allow perspectives from others to govern their attachment to his/her partner.

Maturity. Each person realizes that all relationships go through periods of distance, irritation, or trouble and see these periods as opportunities for the relationship to grow.

Unhealthy Relationships

Not all relationships are healthy. One fourth to one half of all dating relationships involve violence. Dating violence can have many forms. It may start out with mild forms and escalate as the relationship develops.

Emotional/Psychological Abuse. Jealousy, possessiveness, controlling of behavior, verbal put downs, name calling, criticism, intimidation, threats.

Physical Abuse. Pushing, shoving, slapping, pulling hair, excessive tickling, hitting, punching, threatening with a weapon, physically confining.

Sexual Abuse. Any sexual relations without the consent of the other person. Touching, humiliating sexual activity, coercion, rape.

How Do I Know if I am in an Unhealthy or Violent Relationship?

  • Does your partner call you names, put you down, and/or embarrass you?
  • Does your partner say that no one else would ever go out with you?
  • Does your partner drink too much or use drugs?
  • Are there two set of "rules" for behaving (one person has more freedom than the other)?
  • Does your partner tell you where you can go, who you can see and talk to, and/or what you can wear?
  • Does your partner want to know where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing all the time?
  • Does your partner accuse you of flirting or sleeping around?
  • Does your partner's jealousy make you feel uncomfortable and stop you from doing or saying things?
  • Do you feel cut off from your friends and family?
  • Do you make excuses for your partner's behavior?
  • Are you afraid of how your partner will react to what you say or do?
  • Is your partner easy going, gentle and loving most of the time and promises never to hit or abuse again and then breaks that promise?
  • Does your partner often lose his or her temper and throw or break things when angry?
  • Has your partner revealed violent acts toward others?
  • Has your partner forced or coerced you to have sex or do uncomfortable sexual activity?
  • Do your arguments get "physical"?
  • Has your partner ever pushed, slapped, punched, kicked, or hurt you?
  • Are you afraid that he or she will?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. You may want to talk to someone who can help you decide.

If Violence Occurs

If you find yourself in a violent, or potentially violent, relationship, you need to:

  • Think first of your physical safety. Get away from the violent person as quickly as you can.
  • Remember that it is not your fault. There is nothing that you can do to deserve to be abused.
  • Reach out for help. Contact family members, friends, police, counselors or a spouse abuse center (you don't have to be married to get help there).
  • Remember that you cannot change another person's violent behavior. Giving in to demands, trying to please, pacifying and giving one more chance do not have a lasting effect.
  • Remember violence does not just go away. Once started, it usually keeps happening and gets worse. It becomes a cycle of abuse, but you can break the cycle by refusing to become a victim.

How to Help a Friend in a Violent Relationship

  • Tell him/her that it is not his/her fault. Tell him/her that he/she doesn't deserve it.
  • Believe him/her and let him/her know that you do.
  • Be supportive, but don't tell him/her what to do. Whatever he/she decides, it is his/her decision.
  • Don't blame him/her for the abuse or his/her decisions. It is difficult to leave a relationship; he/she may not be ready yet.
  • Offer to go with him/her to talk to someone--a teacher, counselor, or a shelter.
  • Continue to be there for him/her even if he/she does not leave the relationship. Let him/her know that he/she can always come to you.
  • Don't spread gossip. It could be dangerous for him/her.
  • Help him/her to make a safety plan.

Remember, you can't fix it, but you can be helpful by being a good friend.

Where to Get Help

SHSU Counseling Center (936) 294-1720.

SAAFE House (936) 291-3369 24-hour hotline (936) 291-3529 Office

Back to Self Help Resources

Sam Houston Counseling Center

1608 Avenue J., Box 209  | Huntsville, TX 77341-2059  | Phone: 936.294.1720 | Fax: 936.294.2639