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As human beings, we strive to connect with others. The development of healthy relationships can bring about positive feelings about yourself and the world, can allow for personal growth, and can help to give our lives meaning. Shallow relationships can be more easily developed, but they tend to have little lasting effect on how we feel. Meaningful relationships require time and energy to flourish, and these may include relationships with your family, friends, or a romantic partner.

Healthy relationships often have the following characteristics:

  • Strong two-way communication
  • Honesty
  • Commitment to the relationship
  • Respect for individuality and allowing the other person to be themselves
  • Working together to resolve conflicts
  • Empathy for each other
  • Patience
  • Mutual respect for each other’s opinions
  • Trust
  • Willingness to compromise
  • Ability to laugh at oneself

Unhealthy relationships may involve distrust, an imbalance of focus on one partner, lying, disrespect, an inability to express your feelings, being pressured to change, or feeling trapped. More serious characteristics may include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. If you believe you are in an unhealthy relationship, please contact the Counseling Center or seek the appropriate services, such as a shelter or law enforcement.

Developing Meaningful Relationships

We encourage the open development of healthy, meaningful relationships. But how does one go about this?

  • Develop Your Self-Esteem
    • Learn to become comfortable with who you are.
    • Acknowledge your strengths and recognize your faults, and openly express what you value in life.
    • Have a sense of where you are going in the future, and your motivation for doing so.
    • Take responsibility for your own actions.
    • Become as healthy and happy as you can in your own life, and healthy people will be attracted to you.

  • Learn How To Communicate
    • Use “I” statements (“I am angry with you!” versus “You make me angry!”)
    • Make descriptive statements rather than evaluative ones
    • Describe your own reaction — by avoiding evaluative language, you reduce the need for the other person to react defensively
    • Make specific statements rather than general ones
    • Make statements based on observations rather than inferences
    • Focus on what you see or hear, not on interpretation and conclusions or assumptions
    • Take into account the needs of the receiver and the giver of feedback. Feedback can be destructive if it only suits your needs and isn’t constructive for the receiver
    • Direct statements toward behavior about which the receiver can do something
    • Feedback is most useful when spoken at the earliest opportunity after the given behavior or situation
    • Check to make sure that communication is clear
    • Pay attention to your non-verbal behavior, such as sitting with your arms crossed, inconsistent eye contact, or exhibiting poor posture

  • Choose Places to Go and Activities to Do Wisely!
    • Spend time in places where you are likely to meet people with similar interests
    • Be active in choosing to engage in activities or meet with friends

  • Maintain a Positive Attitude
    • Be open and non-judgmental toward others, as well as yourself
    • Be tolerant and respectful of differences
    • Allow for humor in your relationship; don’t take yourself too seriously

  • Avoid Sabotaging Your Relationships
    • Have realistic expectations about the relationship, as well as the people involved (yourself included!)
    • Don’t rush into things too quickly
    • Don’t try to change the other person to match your beliefs or needs
    • Don’t be self-centered, or feel as if you always have to win disagreements
    • Don’t hold your feelings back; be sure to express them appropriately
    • Don’t be too negative about yourself or life in general

  • Be Yourself!

How to Get Help

For more information or assistance, please contact the Drexel University Counseling Center at (215) 895-1415, or e-mail

Internet Resources

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.