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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

5 Tips for Navigating Your First Healthy Relationship

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GWU chapter.

So, you’ve got a new significant other. Congratulations! Dear reader, I couldn’t be happier for you. But if you’re like me, and you’ve had your fair share of toxic relationships in your past, you may be a touch apprehensive about approaching this new chapter of your life. Maybe you’re worried you’ll get cheated on; maybe you’re worried your life will become completely absorbed by your new boo. Or maybe you’re worried that you will become a toxic partner because of your past trauma. 

Take a breath. Get out of your head. Yes, toxic and traumatic relationships require a lot of work to get through and get past. But you are stronger than you think you are. Don’t let past bad experiences ruin your chances of a happy present. When I started dating my current boyfriend, I was terrified he’d hurt me like my previous relationship had or that I would let my damaged heart get the best of me and end up hurting him. It was a learning curve, but these 5 tips made sure I, my partner, and my relationship were, in the immortal words of Olivia Rodrigo, happy and healthy. 


This sounds cliché. I know. It’s cliché for a reason. Shoving your feelings down and letting them fester only leads to resentment and bitterness. If your partner unintentionally hurt you in some way, bring it up to them ASAP! They were late for a date? Address how it made you feel. Did they forget an anniversary? Talk to them about it. Did they watch the newest episode of “The Boy”s without you (a major offense in my book)? Bring. It. Up. If it hurts you, don’t put those feelings to the side. And don’t be petty about it either. Make it a habit to have clear, respectful chats with your partner whenever something happens that hurts either of you. 

These chats don’t have to be a huge deal, and they definitely shouldn’t end up with either of you feeling more hurt than you were in the beginning (see Tip #3). It can be as easy as a quick text saying “Hey, this specific thing you did hurt me and I’d like to talk about it,” or it can be a sit-down conversation over dinner. Either way, the conversation should end with you feeling better and you both feeling respected and valued. Communication is key to every successful relationship, so make it the standard early on. 


As an Aquarius sun who inherently craves independence, I struggle with this sometimes. The constant mental grappling between wanting to spend every waking hour attached at the hip with my partner, wanting to see my friends all the time, AND needing to be alone to recharge my social battery is a lot to handle. Throwing a relationship into the mix of what is already a busy schedule can be hard on anyone. It’s important to be intentional about the time you spend with your partner and make an effort to see them, but also to give yourself some time apart in order to make the time you spend together all the more meaningful.

It’s easy in a new relationship to want to constantly be around your partner. I get it! But that can lead to not only neglecting and isolating your friends but also unhealthy codependency with your partner that makes you neglect your alone time. My advice: don’t let your partner be the only person you see that day. Get lunch with them and dinner with your friends. Sleepover at your partner’s apartment and get up for brunch with your friends the next morning. Or, invite your partner to go out with your friend group and go out with theirs. Just don’t forget to allot some time to yourself somewhere in the mix. A healthy balance is essential!


This is a big one. It is perfectly natural (and healthy!) to have disagreements in a relationship. You both are not the same person with the same mind. You’re both humans! As much as your partner may feel like your identical twin, it is inevitable that you won’t agree on some things. But when discussing those disagreements, the conversation HAS to be respectful, understanding, and proportional to the topic. Disagreements are fine, fights are not.

For example, if your partner is yelling at you and berating you on end because you forgot to grab pasta sauce for dinner, that is a major red flag. On the other hand, if you find yourself wanting to completely ghost your partner for a day out of spite because they fell asleep without saying goodnight, you need to check yourself and reevaluate if that is the proper response to their actions. My boyfriend and I can (and will) disagree about anything under the sun–timeliness, texting habits, the best Netflix shows–but we will never let the other feel disrespected or unheard during the conversation. If you feel manipulated, disregarded, or less valued by the end of every disagreement, you need to reevaluate the relationship. 

Tip #4: Set those boundaries

We’ve already discussed setting boundaries with your partner in regards to effective communication and the time you spend together, but other boundaries in relationships are just as important. Setting boundaries in regards to how you’d like to be comforted when you’re sad, what your expectations are in the bedroom, and even the way you joke around with each other is super helpful in avoiding unnecessary disagreements and hurt feelings.

If your partner likes to be smothered with love and attention when they’re having a rough day, and you prefer to be left alone for a while, it’s important to discuss that and set the boundary for each other to avoid any hurt feelings. Talking about what you both like/don’t like in a sexual context is extremely important for a healthy relationship. Setting boundaries seems scary at first, but it really is important in making sure you both feel safe and happy in a new relationship. 

Tip #5: Never Stop Dating Them

This one is definitely my favorite. Never stop making an effort to impress your partner so they can feel loved and valued! I see people too often that feel neglected when the “honeymoon phase” ends and they both settle into the relationship. My advice is to treat each other as if you were still trying to win each other over. An effort is never a bad thing!

Flowers just because or a care package after a rough day/week are great ideas for people whose love language is gift-giving. For me, I love it when my partner texts me a sweet good morning message before I wake up or leaves a cute voicemail when I’m away from the phone (words of affirmation anyone?). This needs to go both ways as well.

Figure out how your partner likes to be loved, and never let them forget how much you care about and appreciate them!

New relationships are scary, especially if you’ve had bad luck with them. As long as you and your partner are dedicated to making sure you both can grow, thrive, and feel safe and valued in your relationship, you’re bound to succeed.

From Overland Park, Kansas, Maggie is a sophomore at the George Washington University majoring in Political Science and minoring in History. She wants to practice constitutional law in the future and own 3 big fluffy dogs. Her happy place is Chatham, Massachusetts and there is nothing she loves more than wearing oversized sweatshirts.