Creating pillars of support while dating
Dating can be fun, exciting, and full of new discoveries. It allows you to learn more about yourself and your preferences in a partner. When you start dating for the first time, you may not know that all relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, with unhealthy relationships somewhere in the middle, and you might need some help identifying red flags. Having a support system can help you define and maintain a healthy, loving relationship.
We asked our love is respect followers in a poll:
“When you need relationship advice, who do you trust?”
The highest response we heard from our audience was, “Your best friend.”
Talking to your best friend about your relationship issues is a great way to vent and clarify events happening in your partnership. However, expanding your support system to include a parent, a trusted adult in your community, and/or a love is respect advocate can help you reach out to resources you need to heal from an abusive relationship. Ultimately, you are the expert in your relationship, and you know when something feels off for you. Make sure you are checking in with yourself regularly and assessing how your partner is treating you.
Opening up and speaking with a small circle of trusted friends and family can help you decipher unhealthy relationship characteristics and identify any abuse that may be occurring between you and your partner. Each member of your support system offers a unique perspective and can help you attain your goal of a healthy relationship.
Here are a few people you can turn to when you need to vent or seek help if you are in an abusive or unhealthy relationship:
- Trusted adult in your community
This can be with any adult you feel comfortable speaking with. It can include a congregation member, coach, teacher, family friend, or tutor. They can be dependable pillars of support when you have issues with intimate relationships at school or within extracurricular activities.
These adults can help you design a safety plan that includes providing an escort in-between classes or developing protections for you while attending extracurriculars. They can also serve as an excellent resource for locating support groups, counseling, and therapy. Keep in mind, if there is a physical altercation that happened at home, a teacher or religious leader may be legally mandated to report that. Remember, what you are experiencing is your story to share; you only have to share as much as you feel comfortable sharing.
- Best friend
Your best friend can be a great source of support because they are the closest friend you have, and they know you very well. You might also be close in age, know the same people, and have more in common in your lives. Best friends are great companions to vent to and can help you create safety plans to avoid toxic situations at school and in your neighborhood. Often our friends are easier to talk to, and they can help you process what is happening in your relationship. While they may not have the financial support, connections, or professional resources needed to aid in the healing process, they can be by your side as you build a support system that includes but is not limited to your best friend.
A guardian or parent can be a fantastic support pillar because they are responsible for your overall well-being. Most of the time, your parents have the most investment in ensuring your safety at home and while you’re out in the world. Their goal should be to maintain your safety. They can provide comfort and support during a difficult time while assisting you in creating a home safety plan. This can include instructions on what to do if the abuser arrives at your home or help you change your number to block all contact. Your parents may also have the ability to provide financial support for a therapist or living expenses if you’re breaking up with a live-in partner. Opening up to them about the relationship can create stronger bonds with your parents and help you during the recovery process.
- love is respect advocate
Finally, a love is respect advocate is another friend you can add to your circle. By texting “LOVEIS” to 22522, a love is respect advocate will help you determine if your relationship is unhealthy or abusive, provide self-care tips, and help you create a safety plan for school and home if necessary. Every call, text, or chat with an advocate is free, confidential, and answered by a trained professional who can guide you through the process.
Know Your Worth
A robust support system made of peers and trusted adults can help you get through the worst storms in any relationship. Friends, trusted community members, parents, and advocates all have a unique and helpful role in achieving wonderful and loving relationships. Always remember that you are worthy of love from yourself and from those you choose to have in your life and that you deserve to have a healthy, happy, loving, and thriving relationship.
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