Madie’s Top 5 Takes on … Relationships

Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA

 

As we move through Valentine’s Day, we’ve no doubt been inundated with Buzzfeed articles like “5 signs your man is cheating on you,” “Do you love him or is he just tall?” and “Why should I marry Ryan Reynolds and not my partner?”

These articles, all about unhealthy relationships, have no focus on how people can recognise when they are in a healthy relationship.

I want to shift this narrative and focus on how to build a healthy relationship and recognise when you are in a relationship that is good for you and your mental health. Also, big disclaimer – I am not an expert in this at all, it’s just my opinion!

Remember it is okay to have disagreements.

This is one that I personally really struggle with. I did not have a lot of experience with conflict resolution before entering my first serious relationship – who does? This meant that I thought the minute my partner and I had a disagreement, it meant that we were incompatible and could NOT be together…how irrational.

But as our relationship progressed, I have learnt that out of disagreements come important learnings. You might learn information about their worldview and how they interpret situations, leading to a better understanding of your partner. I found that for the relationship to grow, there are moments when disagreements will happen and that this is okay, as it can help strengthen the relationship.

Overall, as long as you handle your disagreements with thought and consideration for the other person, and not with malice and spite towards them, they can be a healthy part of a relationship!

Think about how they make you feel when you are in their presence.

I recently saw a post on Instagram, from The Post Date Eight (@loganury) on questions you should ask yourself after a date. You can use these questions to reflect on the date, the person and the potential future relationship. These questions stood out to me as I think they are important to think of.

The essence of the questions was mainly about reflecting on how the person made you feel in their presence.

Did they make you feel understood/listened to? Did they make you smile? Did they bring out a side of you that you like? I think it is important in a relationship to reflect on these questions continually and identify if you are happy with the way the person makes you feel in the relationship. When you reflect on these questions, there should be a sense that this person brings out the best side of you – they focus on your strengths, listen to you and respect you!

Before you can love someone else, you need to make sure you love yourself.

Of course, we’ve all heard the RuPaul quote at the end of Drag Race: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else?” This has really stuck with me over the years. I think it is so important that before you dive into a relationship, where you give the person everything, you recognise your own value. If you do not value yourself, you will not recognise when a person isn’t valuing you!

Be willing to work on yourself.

It’s important to develop and maintain a growth mindset towards a relationship, but also towards yourself. With this mindset, you are focusing on how you can grow and change to help build a better relationship. It is important that this growth is not on only one partner’s side, but is shared. If only one of you is willing to grow and develop, the other will be left in the shadows.

A problem halved is a problem solved.

This was something that it took me a while to get used to. For such a long time I was used to solving and battling my problems on my own. When I started seeing my partner I shared with him what I was going through, yet still had this mentality that I needed to solve it on my own. Still, five years into the relationship, it is a conscious effort to pull myself out of this and remind myself that a life partner is there to help.. A partner should be willing to stand by you when you are going through a rough time and will work with you to solve the problem, all while providing important emotional support.

 

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio