Everyone is involved in some sort of relationship, whether it be a friendship or companionship. The Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) always has meetings to talk about issues relating to the LGBT+ community and the importance of relationships, whether it be romantic or platonic. On Valentine’s Day, the club met to discuss what goes into making a healthy companionship and friendship.
“Any relationship needs need trust, some degree of self love, honesty, connection, respect and support,” said the vice president of GSA Jennifer Guluzy.
First on the table was trust, and she shared that trust is the foundation that relationships lay on. Relationships lacking trust often lead to toxic or abusive situations. When trust is absent, members can experience higher stress and lower confidence. Sometimes, the relationship will completely fail.
“You tend to play games in this kind of relationship,” Guluzy shared. “Signs of lacking trust include wishing you had someone to talk to when they are there, you feel alone when you are with them, you experience fear when you have to tell them something, and wanting to check your phone often.”
Another topic discussed was that looking at phones has become very common in today’s society. Guluzy spoke about how people open their phones when they first wake up, when they have a minute free at work or school, or when they are closing off the day, cell phones practically dictate the new generation’s day to day life. However, in relationships, when a person opens their phone during a date it can be a sign of the person not truly enjoying their time with the other person. It can show that the person is not fully there and not giving their full attention, causing a loss of trust on both behalves.
The second factor that goes into healthy relationships is self love. Zest Director of the GSA, Natalie Katrenya, shared the effect of self love in relationships. While the saying, “you can’t love someone until you love yourself”, isn’t necessarily true, people should try to work on making themself happy before they get into the pressure of making themself along with a significant other happy. A lack of confidence is very normal and common in today’s day and age, and it’s perfectly fine.
“It’s very conditional. Every situation is different. That is something you will continue to learn from high school, that there is always a gray area,” Katrenya stated. “There’s a debate that it’s always black or white, but there is always the option of it being gray.”
Katrenya went on to share that fully loving oneself is extremely hard, especially when insecurities are higher than ever in the newer generations. It is draining to people to dedicate a lot of time trying to notice their self worth. It’s something everyone needs to continually work on, and over time self confidence tends to rise. Once someone is comfortable with themself, it will be easier to get comfortable with a second party.
“If you are unsure about things that used to make you happy about yourself, or you start to question that those good parts of you were never good, you got yourself a red flag,” Katrenya noted.
Guluzy added saying that if people feel jealous towards their significant other, that is a sign of losing some self love. Wishing to be living someone else’s life is a sign that the person is not doing everything they can to fulfill their own needs and at that point should not be relying on others to give them what they need.
She informed the GSA of the toxic mindset that comes with feeling jealous during a relationship.
“It’s all negative energy and you should try to get rid of it. Feeling trapped in your own relationship is the worst feeling and if you can, get out of there,” stated Guluzy.
She went on to talk about the signs of being in a toxic relationship. Some terms that come to the surface are gaslighting, projection, and confidence. Gaslighting is the term used to describe manipulation in a relationship by psychological means to make the other half of the party go insane. Relationships with a lack of a power balance where one person has the upper hand are not the best, as each party should pull equal weight. The signs to look for are hard to see if both people have been in the relationship for a while. Over time, people are blinded by others’ bad doings because they grow used to the mistreatment.
“People are usually blinded during a gaslighting type of situation. If you are told about something bad your significant other did, and you think to yourself, ‘oh, they would never do that,’ you might want to consider that they might’ve conditioned you to feel like they could never do anything wrong,” Guluzy revealed.
Another common term she discusses is “projection”, which is when one person puts their problems on someone else and tend to blame others for their own personal issues. This happens often in today’s society because it has become the norm to have low self esteem. Even little sayings like, “you hate me anyway,” or something more drastic like, “you’re the reason I hate myself,” can be very detrimental to not only the person who that is directed towards, but it can hurt whoever said it. If you say something that you don’t know how it will make the person react, it’s best to stop and reevaluate how to word it. Relationships are not a blame game and if there is always a back and forth, that’s the biggest sign that there is no trust and someone is lifting more of the weight in the party.
Tied into the last point is honesty. The GSA had a discussion about how a lack of honesty can lead to problems. If there is any kind of gaslighting, projection, etc. there is a lack of honesty from the victim. The victim will commonly lie about things to appease the tension between them and their significant other. A form of self defense, but it is also a sign that the relationship is not healthy and you need to get out of there. If you ever feel like you have to lie to protect yourself from an argument or fight, do yourself a favor and get out of there. Every single toxic relationship comes off the basis of no honesty. Other factors, such as cheating, also come into play. One party is clearly not satisfied with their significant other, and decide to go behind their back to please themself.
“You can’t admit you are right all the time, even when you know you aren’t. If you can’t find it in you to also open up at times, you can’t be living healthily. It’s just a fact of life,” Guluzy shared.
Katrenya shared that it’s okay to own up to your mistakes. It’s a sign of strength that you can look back on your bad actions, admit to them, and then grow and learn from it. It’s okay to apologize and say sorry, but never have your apologizes come out of feeling like you have to. Everyone apologizes for things all the time, and that is what helps build those strong connections with people.
“Telling the truth is the best thing to do to avoid fighting or trust issues,” Katrenya said. “It should never feel like you’re playing a game, because if there was pure genuine love and honesty between the parties, it would never feel like a game.”
The discussion then flowed into one of the most important things not only in romantic relationships but also platonic relationships: communication. Humans communicate everyday of their lives. Good communication is key to building strong bonds, but miscommunications do happen. A miscommunication by definition is “failure to communicate adequately.” This can mean that someone said something but it came out not how they intended it. Have you ever had a friend send you a harmless joke and you take it seriously and get offended? That is a miscommunication. When someone is called out for a miscommunication, lots of drama can bubble from it.
“If someone hurts your feelings or you are feeling a lack of trust, a fight that you probably didn’t anticipate can happen,” Guluzy shared. “I could send a text to Matt [Pumarejo, president of the GSA] and be like ‘Hey, I can’t go tonight sorry.’ Matt could take that as ‘Oh well, Jen’s ditching me and she hates me.’ It’s important to read what you type to make sure the wrong message isn’t going across.”
Katrenya explains that it takes two to tango. Everyone miscommunicates sometimes but that doesn’t make it a one way street. One person delivers a message and the other receives it. If the receiver is hurt in some way, it’s possible to turn around and go back. If it was a one way street, you would be stuck and would have no options. Luckily, humans were smart enough to construct two way streets, so if you take a wrong turn, it’s easy to backtrack. It is okay to admit your mistakes, and in doing so, you are only benefitting you and your partner.
Healthy relationships are a dime a dozen if you know how to communicate well with others. Remember to trust, and not be afraid of admitting your wrongs. It’s great to have the facts, and now these facts can be applied to everyday life.