Making and sustaining relationships with family, friends, partners, roommates, teachers, and loved ones while at Stanford can be a great source of fulfillment, comfort and love. It can be a way to foster independence as well as explore and learn about yourself. As with all areas of our lives, understanding ourselves will help us understand how we are with others.
Below are some things to consider as you build healthy relationships at Stanford
- Relationships of all kinds thrive on a foundation of mutual appreciation, equality, and respect. And, even knowing that, relationships change over time. Change across different areas of your life can impact what you want and need from any given relationship. Welcome change as an opportunity to strengthen relationships and practice asking for what you need to feel supported.
- There is no *one* way to have a relationship. You have every right to decide, through consensual negotiation with others, what your relationships look like, how it is structured and who is in them. Some relationships are intimate but not sexual, some are monogamous, non-monogamous, or polyamorous. All relationships do not need to look the same, yet they can all be valued for the uniqueness and creativity they were built on.
- Boundaries are essential to healthy relationships and a healthy life. Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill and like any skill, effectively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Practicing healthy boundaries can mean knowing and understanding what your limits are, practicing self-awareness, considering one’s past and present, tuning into your feelings. For instance, in some relationships, time can become a boundary issue. Partners might benefit from talking about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.
- In all kinds of healthy relationships, it’s important to discuss and respect each other’s boundaries on a regular basis. Nobody is ever obligated to consent to something, even if they’ve done it in the past. Often, consent involves a lot more than just a simple yes or no. It’s important to remember that the absence of a no doesn’t mean yes. When it comes to sexual interactions, there are so many different kinds and types of behaviors to a sexual interaction, and consenting to one stage doesn’t necessarily mean someone is consenting to everything. For consent to truly be given, it must be clear and enthusiastic!
- Conflict will arise! When it does, know that disagreements are normal and, if constructively resolved, can actually strengthen a relationship. Resolving conflicts requires honesty, a willingness to consider another's perspective even if you don't fully understand it, and lots of communication. A great relationship or partnership is one where, rather than facing off to determine who will win each battle, turns to stand shoulder to shoulder with you to watch the battle rage.
- Relationships can be liberating, exhilarating, confusing and scary all at once! If you find yourself experiencing distress or overwhelmed at navigating various kinds of relationships, consider reaching out for help. Counseling at CAPS can help you identify problematic patterns in current and past relationships and can help you learn more ways of relating authentically. Also, consider consulting with the professional staff at the Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Education and Response (SARA) for more information about all matters related to sexual violence, relationship violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and sexuality education.
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)
CAPS is the university’s counseling center dedicated to student mental health and well- being. CAPS offers a variety of services including brief individual psychotherapy, group therapy, psychiatry services including medication management, and crisis intervention. If you are interested in meeting with a provider who has specialized training in relationship conflict or IPV, you can request this during your 15 minute initial phone appointment which is used to pair you with the best clinician and/or services to match your needs.
- Where: Vaden Health Center, 2nd Floor/866 Campus Dr. Stanford, CA 94305
Office of Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Education and Response (SARA)
SARA is a confidential program that helps students navigate sexual and relationship abuse on campus through individual support and education.The staff at SARA use the theory of intersectionality as a framework to guide their work so that we can better serve the entirety of the Stanford community; this means they are sex positive, queer affirming, and gender literate. Additionally, you can reach out to the Title IX Office at Stanford to learn more about how to handle non-consensual interactions on campus.
- Where: Kingscote Gardens, Ste 220/419 Lagunita Dr. Stanford, CA 94305
- To make an appointment, call 650.725.1056
Well-Being at Stanford
Well-Being at Stanford has multiple wellness programs which may help students discuss relationships. Talk to your PHE, RA or CA to bring a customized, engaging workshop to your residence, center or student group. We will work with you to target your interests, whether graduate or undergraduate.
- Where: Kingscote Gardens/419 Lagunita Dr. Stanford, CA 94305