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The quality of our relationships has a significant impact on the quality of our life. Peer and romantic relationships are very important during college, and the changing relationships with friends and family back home can be challenging.

It is normal to feel lonely in a new place, even when you are surrounded by a lot of people. Living with new people can result in increased conflicts or unpredictable situations. It may also involve having conversations you’ve never had to have before. Beginning new romantic relationships or ending ones from home, can involve issues of assertiveness, confidence, and making sure boundaries stay healthy.

Of course, it can be tempting to dismiss relationships concerns. “I need to focus on school, that’s why I’m here.” However, navigating conflicts, surrounding yourself with people who like and respect you, and having healthy relationships are great skills to practice. They also contribute to an improved quality of life.

Instead of going through all of the different kinds of relationships (parents, family, roommates, friends, partners, professors, etc.) you can have, we want to highlight different kinds of relationship dynamics. Those dynamics have a tendency to play out in a variety of ways across relationships. Gaining insight into those dynamics and making positive change can contribute to overall healthier relationships.

What You Can Do To Ensure Healthy Relationships

Regardless of the relationship, it is important to make sure that it is healthy. Depending on what types of relationships you have had in the past, it is easy to assume that some things are normal, when they are really manipulative or unhealthy. Pay attention to how decisions are made, what you are allowed to say, if their affection is conditional on how you behave, etc.

You should also understand how you communicate in relationships. If you struggle with offering your opinion, saying no, making decisions, disagreeing, or avoid situations where it seems like a conflict is possible, you should take a look at your assumptions about assertiveness and assertive communication.

If you have difficulty with being assertive, you may want to examine whether or not you have any people pleasing tendencies. When people pleasers are in relationships with individuals who exhibit unhealthy tendencies, they can be taken advantage of or constantly frustrated that their efforts are not being returned at the same level. Some people struggle with sharing too much and others struggle with opening up and being vulnerable.

Lastly, learn to recognize if there are any codependency dynamics in the relationship where you are constantly rescuing someone else or being rescued. This can help you realize that in some relationships (and after some break-ups), there may be stalking and harassment behaviors. It is important to be aware of these dynamics and behaviors so that you can work to keep yourself and your relationships healthy, safe, and happy.

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