The Center for Equity and Inclusion teamed up with Student Counseling Center Psychologists, Dr. Crystal Gon­salves, Dr. Paolo Larano and Dr. C.J Swanlund, to give a presentation about healthy romantic relationships on Feb. 6. The Student Counseling Center’s mis­sion is to help students build coping skills to help manage their health and well-being, offering short-term and problem focused sessions for UW Ta­coma students

While the event was originally planned to be a presentation, it quickly turned into an open-ended discussion about what a healthy or unhealthy rela­tionship might look like.

The psychologists started the con­versation by asking the attendees to describe what they thought of as a “healthy relationship,” guiding the con­versation to help find the different ide­als of what a healthy romantic relation­ship entails. The topics discussed included respecting one another, having your values and needs met, and how communication is a vital part to having a healthy relationship — not only in the romantic sense, but with anyone that we have a relationship with, such as friends, family members and the most important relationship of all, ourselves.

“It is a learning process while you’re getting to know someone,” Swanlund stated during the presentation.

The PowerPoint slide titles pointed out the general milestones that people in relationships go through. The begin­ning phase, meaning you’ve known someone for awhile, includes conversa­tions about conflicts — the key to main­taining a healthy relationship. This also includes having gratitude, openness and humility with your partner and others. The discussion also noted the impor­tance of understanding how an indi­vidual communicates with their partner while in a relationship.

“Be clear of expectations,” was a ma­jor key point of the presentation. Prob­lems may arise because of past relation­ships and situations like this are looked at as a red flag. This can lead to unreal­istic expectations. To successfully steer away from that, it is important to respect changes and accept differences. The psychologists suggested that it’s vital to express the wants and needs of the re­lationship, but also respect the partner’s rights. They also suggested to be pre­pared to fight fair in order to maintain the relationship. This includes accepting different cultures, traditions and family values within the partnership. Having a conversation about family expectations helps to create a deeper understanding of a relationship.

In spite of the title of the event, the discussion also focused on self-love and the different relationship dynam­ics in our lives. The psychologists sug­gested that a great way to maintaining a healthy and satisfying relationship is by having realistic expectations — making sure to check in with your partner, friends or family members often to see if they are able to add value to your life and if they’re able to meet your needs and vice versa.

Dr. Swanlund shared an analogy to best describe how to make a rela­tionship last.

“It can be helpful to think about our relationships like cars,” Swanlund said. “In order for cars to function properly, they need ongoing attention like fuel, oil changes and regular maintenance. If we don’t give our cars the attention they need, like not filling up the gas tank or ignoring the “check engine” light for too long, then we may end up with seri­ous consequences, like breakdowns, damage, and big expenses! Checking in with our partners every once in a while about needs, wants, things to improve AND things that are going well may prevent some issues down the road.”

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