University of Southern Indiana

Healthy Relationships

Holding HandsHealthy relationships are built on a foundation of feeling comfortable with one’s self and the other person. With this foundation in place, one is able to freely be him or herself. Healthy relationships are characterized by the following variables:

Authenticity: feeling comfortable with yourself and being able to share your joys and celebrations as well as your problems and other difficulties.

Honesty: feeling able to be truthful so that you’ll know where you stand and won’t be afraid to share your opinions.

Positive conflict resolution: healthy relationships include conflict. Conflict is resolved, possibly through compromise, when honest and healthy communication is used to address underlying tensions or difficulties.

Respecting boundaries: healthy relationships often "feel right” to both parties involved because each person respects the other person’s limits. It takes time to develop a healthy relationship until there is a balance that works so both people feel comfortable.

Trust: feeling safe with each other. For example, trust means that you feel comfortable sharing your feelings or the details of your life because you know the other person won't gossip about you.

Caring: healthy relationships that are worth having take work, but that doesn't mean it has to be difficult. Spending time on friendships or a romantic relationship can include many things. For example spending time together and texting or talking on the phone. Healthy relationships don't mean that you need to constantly spend time together, everyone needs to have other supportive people in their life; however, it is import to take time to nurture any healthy relationship.

Healthy Communication: feeling able to discuss what is on your mind. It is often helpful to organize your thoughts and find the right time to talk. Healthy communication includes being honest and open while also listening to the other person and being respectful.


Conflict is an unavoidable aspect of life and everyone faces conflict throughout their lives. We all have our own views and opinions and sometimes these can cause conflict in our personal relationships and with others around us.

When you find yourself in conflict with a friend or significant other, the first step to resolving it is to realize that conflict is complex and that it is often about issues no one is mentioning. If true resolution is to take place, the real issue must be identified. It is important to use healthy strategies when resolving conflict. Some options include:

    • Clearly identifying and defining the problems and issues.
    • Summarize what was said to make sure that you understand and to help the other person feel heard.
    • Use "I" messages to relate how you feel.
      • For example: I feel ­   sad   when   we argue about chores   because   it feels as if we are not able to be honest with each other  .
    • Non-verbal language is important in conflict resolution. You can tell how someone feels by how they stand/ move, their facial expressions, or “how” they say something.
    • Be a good listener. It is helpful to make eye contact when the other person is speaking and don't interrupt him or her.
    • Recognize the things you agree on, since this may help you come to a mutual solution.
    • Brainstorm as many potential solutions as possible, even absurd ones. The absurd solutions can help you to understand what you agree on and often adds humor to the situation. Look for solutions or compromises that have benefits for each individual.

Things to Think About:

    1. Do you want to resolve the conflict or are you arguing because there is something else going on?
    2. Is what you are going to say true, or is it an exaggeration or partial truth?
    3. Is what you are going to say relevant to the issue being discussing?
    4. Is what you are going to say constructive and will it move you closer to a mutual understanding?

What Now?

If you are experiencing conflict and need further assistance, contact the USI Counseling Center at 812/464-1867 for an appointment.

The Counseling Center is a SAFE ZONE for individuals of all ethnicities, abilities, religions, sexual orientations, physical appearances/sizes, and gender identities.

Contact Thomas Longwell


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