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How to Know You’re in a Healthy Relationship

As I sit here today, I’m erupting with gratitude. My boyfriend came over after his night class yesterday; we ate dinner with me and watched a movie when I knew I should have been working on my final paper. He kept me up past one when I had class at nine am, and he woke me up six times with his night time fidgeting – but I could not be happier to be his girlfriend. Despite our problems, I have so much more to be grateful for. Above all else, we have a healthy relationship. I have not always been so lucky, and it took a month or two with him to realize years of mistreatment that made love difficult for me. I decided to chronicle those features that made me realize where I have gone wrong in the past.

First, he makes me feel safe. Not just physically, but emotionally. I have been told that I’m unusually empathetic, which makes me easily manipulated. I have had friends and loved ones coerce me for money, attention and favors. I’ve known people that used my affection for them to get ahead and left me behind when it was no longer convenient. To be fair, I’ve had wonderful friends who continue to support and love me too. This time, he doesn’t manipulate me. He’s never made me feel like if I didn’t agree with what he wanted, he’d leave. I can say no, and know that when I wake up, it won’t be over.

Second, he doesn’t try to inhibit my reach. I am very devoted to everything I do; which leads to me being spread too thin pretty often. For example, next semester I’ll be juggling around 16 credits and a part-time job; 6 of those credits being spread between a political science internship and computational biology research. In the past, I dated someone who never wanted to hear about subjects outside his major. He didn’t care about my research and he hated when I ‘tried to be intellectual’ because it intimidated him. In this case however, Sean offered to listen to me explain carbohydrate catabolism because he knows it helps me learn; even though he’s graduating in a week with a degree in English writing.

Third, he puts up with my insecurities. Yesterday, we were teasing each other and he alluded to making an insult that would hurt my feelings. Apparently, he was just messing with me, but it sent my head reeling with the possibilities of his choices from all my flaws. Before, I’ve been told mid-hook up that “[he] could be with someone hotter” or that I was annoying, fat, or any number of small injuries. While none of these are his doing, he doesn’t cut and run when I get insecure. I’m not told to ‘get over it’ or ‘stop being a bitch’ when I don’t feel my best.

Finally, he likes me. I don’t have to worry if he doesn’t text me back because he’s just busy; he isn’t playing games. He doesn’t complain about having to make time to see me. He sometimes surprises me when he knows I have a long day at work or in class. He doesn’t make me feel like a burden or an option for curing boredom. I genuinely think he likes my company, which allows me to be myself.

I write this not to brag, but to give an example to every other girl who has been unlucky in love. You are enough, and someone will appreciate that! You deserve to be happy and loved. Someone will listen to you and they’ll want you to succeed in your career and elsewhere in life. Even if they punt you in the shin in your sleep, it’ll be worth it to see their smushed up sleepy face when you wake (*probably)!


Photo Credits: 1, 23, 4, author’s own

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