Domestic violence is an important issue to be aware of every day of the year. But, with February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, it becomes especially important during the day of the year that puts so much emphasis on “perfect” expressions of love.
With that societal pressure to create a perfect Valentine’s Day experience for one’s partner (or partners), it becomes important to remember the red flags for unhealthy relationships and behaviors –
To Err Is Human: People mess up, that’s just a given. But there is a marked difference in a partner who accidentally burns the romantic homecooked meal they worked on and suggests a romance candle-lit bowl of cereal as a substitute and a partner who accidentally burns the dinner they were cooking and proceeds to throw kitchenware and take out their frustrations on you.
Sex Is Not An Obligation: A partner should be able to give affection and attention without expecting some sexual act as reward for being considerate. This is regardless of how extravagant the date or gift was – even if they bought the Hope Diamond as an anniversary present. If you are not comfortable with anything physical (even if it was something you consented to in the past), your partner needs to understand and respect those boundaries enough to not push the issue.
The Green Eyed Monster: Jealousy is a natural emotion, but that does not make it the hallmark of a healthy relationship. It becomes an issue when it leads to controlling behaviors and pent up negativity and resentment. A partner should not bar contact with any friends or loved ones solely on the basis of their insecurities about those relationships. The proper way to deal with these feelings is to be open and honest about any concerns before they cause a rift that pushes the partners apart.
Communicate!: Probably the most important tool in a healthy relationship toolkit is having good communication skills. In any relationship (not just romantic or sexual ones), all parties must be comfortable with addressing their needs and feelings without fear of judgment. To be open is to give the relationship the potential to mature and strengthen and helps to keep relationships from turning sour.
If you do find yourself in a relationship that has become toxic or abusive, please take the time to seek out any resources in your community that can give you the tools to plan properly for your situation.