Many of us can probably visualize our idea of the “perfect relationship.” It is more important, however, to aspire to a healthy relationship comprised of the following four principles:


When two people are in a relationship, there should be mutual respect for each person as an individual. Having a healthy, respectful relationship means that each partner values the other and what is important to them.


Honesty about what we want in a relationship can be challenging. Many people often hide or mute their own feelings and values because they do not want to jeopardize their relationship. However, being honest with yourself and your partner demonstrates respect for each other.


Trust in a relationship means that you can expect the other person to be a support to you and you a support to them.


Communication is critical to the three other characteristics already discussed. It is how we share respect, honesty, and trust with a partner. Strong relationships demonstrate an openness to conversation about all decisions in the relationship, particularly around value-based decisions such as sex.


Dating is not equivalent with a sexual relationship. Too often, the words sex and intimacy are used interchangeably.

Intimacy is used to describe something of a personal and private nature. While sexual intimacy is certainly personal and private, emotional intimacy is a much more significant element of a healthy relationship.

Relating implies an emotional intimacy between partners. What does dating mean? The jury appears to be out among today’s college students.

Relating and Dating Under the Influence

From formals to parties, the likelihood of meeting someone at an event where alcohol is being consumed is fairly high. One of the negative aspects of mixing too much alcohol with relating and dating is that it condenses time. Things that usually happen in weeks may happen in hours. Because inhibitions are lowered, people often feel more comfortable flirting, letting someone know that they are “interested,” and even initiating a sexual relationship.

However, when people have had too much to drink there is no opportunity for respect, honesty, trust, and communication to occur. Someone under the influence may not be in a position to COMMUNICATE their desire to be/not be sexually intimate and, on the flip side, may not be in a position to HEAR that someone wants to be/not be sexually intimate. The result is often one that results in shame, blame, and guilt “the morning after.” At its worst, situations involving alcohol could also result in a sexual assault.

Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship, and everyone has the right to demand a healthy relationship!


Dating violence continues to be the most accurate indicator of future partner abuse. Abuse that begins during dating often continues and intensifies over the course of a relationship.

Dating violence is a pattern of violent behavior (physical, emotional, or sexual) by one partner in a dating relationship toward the other partner. Often, violence begins through emotional manipulation and escalates to physical abuse.

Warning signs of dating violence include:

  • Persistent and frequent personal injury
  • Failing grades
  • Dropping out of normal activities
  • Avoiding friends and social events
  • Indecision
  • Change in dress and appearance
  • Secrecy
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Crying spells
  • Sudden change in mood or personality
  • Fearfulness with regard to conversation about partner

Warning signs of an abusive partner include:

  • Wants to get serious in a relationship very quickly
  • Will not take “no” for an answer
  • Is jealous and possessive
  • Makes all the decisions for partner
  • Dismisses other people’s feelings
  • Wants to control partner’s activities
  • Puts constant pressure on partner
  • Demands to know where someone is at all times
  • Uses guilt trips to emotionally manipulate partner
  • Blames partner for behavior (e.g., “you made me do it”)
  • Apologizes for violent behavior and promises not to do it again


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