Hi everyone! My name is Susannah and I’m lucky enough to get to hang out with young people every week and talk about relationships – as my job! I go into schools and organizations around Los Angeles to talk about what it means to be in a relationship that might be unhealthy or abusive, and also what it means to be in a relationship that is healthy.
Sometimes when I’m working with groups of students I’ll have them make lists of what they think belongs in a healthy relationship, and what behaviors they think might occur in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. On the healthy side, groups are usually in agreement that healthy relationships are respectful and supportive, fun and safe. On the unhealthy side, most groups include hitting, screaming, put-downs, and so on.
One thing I’ve noticed is that more often than not, arguing and disagreements wind up on the unhealthy and abusive side of the list.
Here’s the thing - no matter how healthy your relationship is, there will likely be things that you and your partner disagree about. Even when you’re in a serious, committed relationship you’re still your own person, so naturally you won’t always see eye-to-eye with your boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s okay to disagree. Feeling comfortable enough with your partner to be able to voice your opinion, even if it’s not a shared opinion, is a healthy part of any relationship.
However, putting arguing on the unhealthy list makes a very important point: No argument should ever make you feel controlled or intimidated by your partner. No disagreement should ever make you feel unsafe.
Relationships should make you feel good about yourself. If the disagreements you’re having with your boyfriend or girlfriend are getting in the way of that, it may be worth taking a second look at whether or not this is the healthy relationship you deserve. And if the arguments in your relationship ever make you feel scared, it’s definitely worth reaching out to get some help.
What do you think about arguments in relationships? Have any good stories about healthy arguments you’ve had with your boyfriend or girlfriend? We want to hear them!