Relationships, whether they are romantic or platonic, impact our daily lives.
This article offers tips for deepening your relationships. Some of these tips are around consent, respecting boundaries, and offering emotional support.
Boundaries are the lines we draw when it comes to relationships, work, time, and so on to maintain our wellbeing. Your personal boundaries are based on your relationship with yourself, so only you can set your boundaries. Setting boundaries is a way we honor our own needs, goals, feelings, and values.
The best way to set a boundary with someone is to have a conversation with them. Why is this important? Communicating how you feel and sharing your individual needs helps you stay on the same page.
Make sure to listen and be supportive when someone else tries to share their personal boundaries with you. This is part of good communication and creating stronger relationships.
If someone disrespects your boundaries and makes you feel like your thoughts or feelings don’t count, you may want to reconsider your relationship.
Part of respecting others’ personal boundaries includes asking for consent before kissing, hugging, or touching them. Asking someone for consent, clears the air and instills that consent goes both ways.
When a relationship is romantic, you might fear that asking for consent will “ruin the mood.” But not asking can put you at risk of hurting someone else and potentially ruining a relationship.
There are ways to ask for consent without being “awkward”. For example, you could say:
- “Can I have a hug?”
- “Are you feeling comfortable with this?”
- “Is it okay if I can hold your hand?”
By asking for consent, you are strengthening the relationship and are showing someone that you have enough respect and care for them to ensure they are comfortable.
Respect Others’ Choices and Opinions
In your romantic relationships and friendships, there will be times where you don’t always agree. That’s okay. One of the best things you can do is to have an open conversation.
Having open communication in a relationship is very important.
Open communication, where you respect each other’s’ choices and opinions, includes:
- Expressing your opinion, while still respecting theirs
- Taking the time to listen and not interrupt
- Coming to an agreement that satisfies your needs and the needs of the other person
For those who are new to relationships, remember that your opinion matters too. Although this is true, you also need to take the other person’s opinion and feelings into consideration as well. Respecting the person while listening (without interrupting) gives you time to hear what the other person is thinking before you develop a response.
A way for both of you to “meet in the middle” is to come to an agreement that is agreeable on both sides. But the solution you develop shouldn’t violate either your own or the other person’s boundaries.
Support during hard times
Hardships are a part of life. Part of a healthy relationship is being able to listen and talk to someone through challenging times- even if this doesn’t necessarily improve their situation. Being there for someone going through hardship builds strong bonds and could mean a lot to them.
Good communication, setting and respecting personal boundaries, and being there for someone through tough times can be challenging but they are important for forming trusting, deep relationships.
To learn more about forming deeper relationships, check out these resources:
Shaelee Singer is a sophomore at Portland State University and member of the Navajo Nation. As an English major interested in education, Shaelee is grateful to be writing articles that spread awareness about health to Native youth.