Young Adults

How can we build healthier relationships?

November 30, 2022

Two teen girls lying on a couch with their feet up, smiling. Image supplied by Pexels.

This blog is in partnership with White Ribbon.

The first step to forming healthy relationships with others is to have a healthy relationship with ourselves. Second, it’s essential to think more about how social norms can affect us in different ways and reflect on the harm they do. Understanding how harmful social norms are to us and to others gives us an opportunity to change our behaviour in positive ways. We can also encourage others to recognize how gender norms influence behaviour and to reflect on how they can be more open in their thinking.  

Setting limits on the emotions or behaviours folks can and cannot show prevents self-expression of our most authentic selves. Those limits keep us from being ourselves and who we want to be. For us to build space for healthy relationships where there is respect, trust, and healthy communication, we must remember to think about the social norms that have conditioned us and consider how they manifest in our behaviour, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously. 

Here are some of the things that you can think of and do to create healthy relationships with yourself and others: 

  • Respect and treat every person equally. 
  • Understand and think critically about societal gender norms and how they affect your behaviours. 
  • Remember, it’s okay to cry and feel your emotions the way they are. Engage others in discussions about emotional awareness and work towards disrupting gender norms. 
  • Think about your personal boundaries — for example, what are you comfortable doing and saying? 
  • Understand the nuances of consent.  
  • Strive to create that space where you can have open communication with each other. 
  • Study resources around healthy relationships — some resources are mentioned at the end of this blog. 
  • Identify what a healthy relationship means to you. 
  • Engage in discussions with neighbours, friends, and family about what healthy relationships are. 
  • Encourage folks to read resources on healthy relationships.