Relationship Basics

Relationships are one of the most complicated parts of the human experience. College can open the doors to many new relationships and highlight some issues with some already existent relationships. It is important to remember that relationships change, that this is a normal part of life.

Change is hard!

Often we tend to mark our stability or fulfillment in situations based on the relationships we have around us. This is not just romantic relationships, although we tend to focus on those more, but on our family relationships, friendships, professional networking relationships, etc.

Maintaining Healthy Relationships

There are a few components in maintaining any kind of healthy relationship*:


Both people in the relationship need to feel free to express positive and negative feelings, complaints, and affection.

  • Check out misunderstandings, don’t make assumptions about the other person’s feelings or motives, do not assume that the other person knows how you feel, talk directly with the person about your needs.


Both people need to be on the same page about what they want from a relationship.

  • Agree on how much time you will spend together and how you will spend that time, be aware of the other person’s needs and interests


In ALL relationships, there are times with communication breaks down; healthy relationships are able to clear up conflicts and emerge stronger.

  • Negotiate a time to talk about difficult topics, use “I” statements to express your feelings, avoid “you” statements, don’t overgeneralize, avoid terms like “always” and “never,” use respectful language and avoid name-calling, listen without interrupting, focus on one problem at a time, admit when you are wrong


Both people need to be clear about what is okay/not okay in the relationship

  • Clearly state any limits you have for the relationship, say no when you are asked to do something that makes you uncomfortable, do not take responsibility over the other person’s destructive behavior (substance use, suicidal gestures)

Relationships can be rich and rewarding, they are also very hard. If you are struggling with the beginning of a relationship, end of relationship, establishing healthy boundaries or lack of relationships, etc. do not feel awkward about asking for help or feel as though you need to minimize what is happening to you.

*University of Texas, Austin