Maintaining Healthy Relationships as a High Schooler

Isabella Bennett and Wyatt Mosiman

With Heart Week and Valentine’s Day behind us and the Sweethearts Dance coming up, at this point every Minnetonka student must be feeling the love in the air (whether it feels genuine or out-of-a-can is up for interpretation). Relationships and feelings are celebrated every Valentine’s Day season, but this doesn’t mean everything can be approached with a cheerful attitude.

Unfortunately, many teenagers feel a pressure to be in a relationship in high school, and while first relationships can be exciting, teens should be wary of falling prey to unhealthy relationships. Concerningly, 44.3% of Minnetonka seniors have been in a relationship they feel was not mutually respectful, according to a recent Breezes survey.

Unhealthy relationships can involve harmful practices other than sexual and physical abuse. Additional characteristics could include emotional manipulation and psychological abuse. These involve targeting a partner’s thoughts and feelings to make them feel inferior. It can be difficult to identify these signs in the beginning of a relationship, but as time passes, the victim gradually loses their confidence in themselves and become anxious and unhappy. While this represents an extreme of emotionally abusive behavior, there are other manipulative attributes that can be found in toxic relationships.

A common way high school relationships become toxic is when one partner begins to control elements of the other’s life. Discouraging their partner from talking to others and going through their phone are examples of unhealthy relationship practices. Leading your partner on can also be very hurtful; if you are not interested in your partner romantically, continuing to let them think you are is disrespectful and prolongs the unhealthy relationship.

Ultimately, there is almost never a time when telling your partner how you truly feel wouldn’t be the healthier choice for both of you.

Whether a romantic relationship is between teens or adults, it should be built on communication and trust. Talking things through with your partner, asking their opinion on matters and feeling comfortable having conversations about not only emotions, but also how your choices can affect each other are all essential to maintaining a healthy relationship. When communicating, it is also essential to make sure you are listening to what your partner has to say and value their opinion and not be quick to brush them off.

Student perspectives on the subject differ. Many believe them to be beneficial: “as long as they’re mutually beneficial and emotionally healthy I think they’re fine. This world needs more love,” said one anonymous survey respondent.

However, other students prefer a more cautionary approach. Another anonymous respondent wrote, “I think dating is a good way to figure out what you like, but in the most crucial years of your development it’s just an extra dramatic factor that is just not necessary. Teens can just be too unstable at times and more often than not, it’s just healthier to take care of one person at a time and that person being you.”

Romantic relationships aside, it’s also important to surround yourself with healthy friendships as well. Friends are a vital support system in your life, and good ones will help reduce stress in your life and make you happier overall.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that “quality over quantity” matters more when it comes to friendships if you want to reap the real benefits. If your friends always brush you off, talk behind your back, or make you feel unwanted, consider reaching out to new people. The prospect of changing social circles may seem intimidating, but there are plenty of people in the Minnetonka community who will treat you the way you deserve to be treated.

Relationships help shape you into the person you are. They teach you how to navigate life and how to build trust with others. By surrounding ourselves with positive people, we find a better outlook on life. As spring approaches, build healthy relationships with good people, and do yourself a favor and clean out the toxic relationships in your life.