Now that school is officially underway, it’s a great time to make changes happen in your life. Each new school year is an unofficial restart on those New Year’s resolutions you made nine months ago. Maybe you aspired to wake up and eat breakfast every morning, when you usually roll out of bed and skip it. Or maybe you’re trying to improve your grade in math, or try out for a new sport. You may have decided to spend more time on your grades if you spent last year being too social, or maybe your goal is to branch out more and make new connections. Regardless of how you’ve decided to rock the “new (school) year, new me” mentality, thinking about your current or future relationship might worth investigating. Are there areas that could be improved, or changes that could be made? Are there areas that deserve an upgrade…where you might have higher standards for yourself now than you did before? Some thoughts:
-Communication: What kind of communication do you need in a relationship? Are you someone who likes to text back and forth while you’re trying to fall asleep at night, and your partner rarely responds? Or is it the opposite, where your partner is texting you all day long and you need more space? Make sure you’re dating someone who’s communication style matches yours. And if you’re currently in a relationship that this is an issue, have you tried to talk about these differences with them? What was the result?
-Respect: Though this seems like a given, making sure you’re giving AND getting respect in your relationship. Is your partner a PokemonGo fan, and you constantly berate him for it? Does your boyfriend think cheer leading isn’t a “real sport?” Is this a constant sore spot in your relationship? Respect should be a given in any relationship, and if you don’t feel like you’re getting the proper appreciation and support from your significant other, spend some time thinking about how you could make a change to benefit yourself.
-How You Fight: Believe it or not, there are some ways that you can make arguments more productive. How do you fight now? Is there name calling? Does he/she swear at you, get really deep and personal, and say things to hurt you that aren’t about the issue at hand? Does your partner stonewall you? (read more about stonewalling in an older blog post here). Yelling, screaming, and swearing at your partner on a regular basis is not only detrimental to the health of your relationship, but will likely make it harder for the two of you to solve problems going forward. There are ways to bring up conflict without these consequences…so think about the last fight you had. Did you resolve anything? What was the tone of the conversation? Do you even remember what the fight was about, or just how upset it made you?
-Spending Time With Others: This is always a hot topic. We’ve all had that friend that suddenly disappears once they get a girlfriend/boyfriend, and doesn’t resurface until months later (if at all), when the romance has worn off. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether this is someone’s active decision, or if their partner is the one taking up all of their time. Either way, no matter how wonderful your boyfriend or girlfriend is, it’s healthy and important to make time for your friends outside of your relationship. If your ratio is out of balance, maybe consider how you spend your time and shifting to make friends and relationships on a more equal playing field.
Overall, every relationship is different and has components that make it great (or sometimes, not so great). If you feel like there’s something in your relationship that deserves more attention, being able to work on it as a team is the only way to make a change for good. So what are your #relationshipgoals for this coming year?
-IH Teen Counselor