What is a healthy relationship? You may think loyalty, trust, respect, honesty, responsibility, etc. All these answers are true. This is a great checklist on what healthy relationships can and should contain. All these answers are elements that produce relationships that flourish into beautiful unions.
Now ask yourself when was the last time you have seen one. Seriously, when was the last time you’ve seen a healthy relationship? Was it in your family? Was it in your community? Was it a Black relationship?
These are very interesting and serious questions. When I ask people who I work with what a healthy relationship looks like, they give me these answers above. When I ask them when they have last seen such a relationship, the room goes silent. This is a problem.
Sometimes people will point to a few members in their family that “made it work.” You know, the family members who stayed together through thick and thin. We all have these family members. For some of us, those people were our parents. For many of us, that couple was grandma and grandpa.
Then what happened? What happened to the rest of our family members? Historical and generational trauma plays a significant part in what happens to the rest of the family members.
We Black people know what an unhealthy relationship looks like. Many of our young adults in relationships have some of the unhealthiest relationships. We need to understand the basics of healthy relationships to get to a point of wellness amongst one another.
Before we can utilize the ABCs, you need to have the building blocks of the ABCs: communication, trust and respect. These are the keys to a healthy relationship and are at the base of the ABCs.
1) Be able to have open and honest communication on what you want and what your needs are.
2) Trust yourself first. If it does not feel right, more than likely it is not.
3) Respect is a must. Self-respect is the most important. Do not allow yourself to be mistreated. Be with someone who deserves to be with you. Self-respect is more powerful than a nuclear bomb.
Now for the ABCs:
A is for Awareness
Awareness is knowledge of the consequences of unhealthy relationships and recognizing danger signs, as well as knowing what your boundaries are. Preventing violence by recognizing a lack of power and respect requires that you apply the knowledge you have to change unhealthy relationships into healthy ones and using what you know to respect others and demand respect.
Basically, awareness means knowledge of all aspects of a relationship, healthy and unhealthy. This knowledge can be gained through teachers, counselors, friends, the Internet and books. All can help you find the information needed to know if you are in a relationship that is healthy.
B is for Balance
Having a relationship that is not one-sided means that one person does not have more control or power than the other. Communication is key to staying in balance. You have to both listen and talk about what somebody else wants, and they’ll listen to what you have to say. Both people need to recognize that they each have valuable opinions, and then work together to balance their desires.
You and your friends probably have similar interests, but you are not completely the same. The same is true for your family and your boyfriend or girlfriend. You can certainly do things together, but remember that you can have different interests, too. If you change in a relationship and adopt all of the other person’s favorite things, hobbies and lifestyle, the relationship becomes unbalanced, and that is a very bad sign.
C is for Conscious Choices
Conscious choices include being able to decide what the next step in a relationship is and making sure things don’t “just happen,” which is a common excuse teens (and some adults) use for getting into emotional or sexual situations they don’t know how to handle. Choices mean being able to take control.
If we, as a community, want to have relationships that are vibrant and healthy, we must start creating them in our own lives. The ABC’s are what everyone learns as the basics to beginning our understanding of communication.
As a community, we need to get back to the basics of what healthy relationships look like. In order for our community to have wellness, the relationships must be built on a strong foundation. With Awareness, Balance, and Conscious Choices, we will begin to create relationships that build wellness for the future of the Black community.
Brandon Jones, M.A., a BeMore coordinator, welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.