MORGAN: In Rom-coms, relationships follow a pretty simple path. You meet in a predictable yet just unexpected enough to make for a good story kind of way, then you fall in love, get together, then have a big fight, maybe break up for awhile, work things out and that’s the end. We fill in the rest assuming it all goes okay from there on.
But in real life, relationships are a lot messier, far less linear, and way harder to define. And sometimes it takes more than just the people in the relationship to figure it all out.
Cathryn Cheek dove in to the online resource Loveisrespect to learn how individuals can better understand their relationships and empower themselves within them.
CATHRYN: Relationships can look entirely different on the outside than they do on the inside. But even when you’re on the inside, it can be hard to fully assess the quality of the relationship you’ve established with a partner. According to the online resource loveisrespect.org (Love Is Respect dot org), “All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive with unhealthy somewhere in the middle.”
Love is Respect dot org uses an online quiz in the relationship spectrum category on their website to help you spot some of these scenarios. 19-year-old Danielle Pioske has recently stepped into the dating scene and is looking for a serious relationship. I had her take the quiz to see how she identifies a healthy and unhealthy relationship. She missed a few questions on the quiz, so I found someone to help explain the answers. Miranda Baden is the Integrated Advocacy Services Director at Iowa Victim Service Call Center. She gave her feedback on how she sees these dating scenarios and why she thinks people may miss these warning signs.
MIRANDA: “I think for teens especially as soon as you label something abusive they tend to get a little scared. They think oh my boyfriend or my girlfriend does that, does that mean I am in an abusive relationship? I think the nice thing about the quiz is that they label everything as Healthy, Unhealthy or Abusive. And that’s really the difference. 2:25
CATHRYN: Loveisrespect.org defines each category on their relationship spectrum as follows:
Healthy relations are based on quality and respect:
“You make decisions together and can openly discuss whatever you’re dealing with, like relationship problems and sexual choices. You enjoy spending time together but can be happy apart.”
Unhealthy relationships are based on attempts to control the other person:
“One person tries to make most of the decisions. He or she may pressure their partner about sex or refuse to see how their actions can hurt. In an unhealthy relationship, you feel like you should only spend time with your partner.”
Abusive Relationships are based on an imbalance of power and control:
“One person is making all of the decisions — about sexual choices, friend groups, boundaries, even what’s true and what’s not. You spend all of your time together and feel like you can’t talk to other people, especially about what’s really happening in your relationship.”
MIRANDA: “I think it is a good basic tool for people who are starting to notice some red flags…Especially for teens, that is kind of our target. If we get callers or texters that are starting to notice some red flags we refer them to Love Is Respect and talk through some of those different things with them (the caller)” 1:32
CATHRYN: Miranda and I discussed possible scenarios in dating that, Love is Respect came up with and labeled them on a scale of healthy, unhealthy, and abusive. Danielle being a teenager, about to be a young adult, missed some red flags in a relationship that these scenarios pan out.
Scenario: “Your partner runs your social media accounts.”
MIRANDA: “I agree that this particular question, with the social media accounts, I do agree that it is pretty abusive. That’s just part of the control aspect that someone wants. At the end of the day, we’re all our own individuals and deserve to have our own privacy with whatever that is. Whether that is social media, or just wanting to have alone time.” 2:51
Love is Respect gives the Correct Answer as Abusive, stating: “When you join a social network, it doesn’t ask for the name of two people, it just asks for one. So remember that and know what you say and do on your profile should be your business. Your partner shouldn’t have a say on who you follow, what you post, or who leaves you a message.”
Scenario: “Your partner says you don’t really love them because you want to go to a movie with a friend instead of spending time alone with them.”
MIRANDA: “it’s one thing if someone is trying to voice their opinion on ‘you’ve been hanging out with so-and-so a lot and I just want to spend time with you. That’s totally different than saying “no I don’t want you to go to a movie with your friends and trying to manipulate that person by saying “you don’t really love me if you’re going to do that.” So I think that’s where the unhealthy aspect comes in. It would be abusive if that person then started calling you names and said you’re such a ‘whatever’ for going to the movies and not seeing me. Then that would cross the abusive line. But then I would also think that it does depend on what the individual thinks. So if you’re the one experiencing that with your partner, and you think it is abusive then you need to go with your gut, rather than what a quiz says.” 3:50
Love is Respect gives the Correct Answer as Unhealthy. And says, “It is not ok if your partner makes you feel bad or guilty for wanting to hang out with a friend instead of them. In a healthy relationship, your partner respects, and trusts you when you are out with your friends and doesn’t make you feel like you constantly have to prove your love.”
Scenario: “Your partner often stops by your workplace even though you told them it makes you uncomfortable”
Danielle missed this question. She identified the scenario as “unhealthy”, but Miranda explains that it can be more than that.”
MIRANDA: “That’s more common in adults who go through this. But I do think you see it in teens as well. I think that is also where you get some of that control aspect as well. Where someone wants to know what you’re doing at all times if you’re really at work if you’re really flirting with your co-worker. They want their presence to be known and to know and say “hey this person is taken and I am their significant other.” And that is unhealthy but it also crosses the line of abusive because if you have already expressed to them that you don’t like that, then they’re just not honoring your request.” 5:03
Love is Respect gives the Correct Answer as Abusive because “Anytime a partner continues to do something after you tell them it makes you uncomfortable, they are being abusive.
Social media and texting are a big part of many modern relationships. Teens and young adults can struggle to know what a healthy relationship looks like when it comes to texting and messaging. Love is respect presented a common challenge that can arise in these relationships.
Scenario: “Your partner texts you more than you want them to and gets angry if you don’t respond.”
MIRANDA: “I think with text messaging you really have to be clear. I suggest people don’t have their read receipts on. I think that’s a horrible idea to have them on but if you prefer to have them on then great. But I think if you’re busy, if you’re at school or you have a big test that you’re taking and your phone is blowing up every five minutes because your significant other is upset with you for not texting back, that is distracting to you. I know teens who go through this, often times their grades drop. A-students will suddenly become d(b?)-students and they don’t really understand why. Really just being upfront and clear about your expectations with text messages. I remember personally I had to hand my phone in at 10 o’clock every night to my parents and my friends, boyfriends, whatever they knew that after 10 o’clock ‘oh we can’t reach Miranda’ and I think just really saying that up front is really important.” 6:40
Just like Miranda, Love is Respect believes that space and communication are important in every relationship. Their correct answer is Unhealthy. “Everybody deserves space even from their dating partner. Feeling as though you don’t have enough is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.”
After going through the quiz, Miranda and I discussed some of the other common red flags people miss in relationships.
MIRANDA: “The biggest one is jealousy. I think we kind of scratched the surface on that with some of those questions they are asking. But jealousy is huge and a lot of people tend to think ‘oh they’re just jealous because they love me, they’re just jealous because someone is flirting with me.’ And sometimes jealousy can be a form of flattery. But it is important to know that it is not healthy. Ya it is ok to have those feelings, but how you react to them and how you try to control a situation because of your jealousy then that is where it becomes unhealthy and abusive.” 8:15
Another red flag we talked about was minimizing. This happens when one partner downplays the emotions or feelings of the other about an event or subject, making them feel like they are overreacting verses listening and understanding.
With the dating scene changing for many teens and young adults with the rise of technology, Miranda had some advice for handling relationships both in person and online, saying there are ways in which technology can make our relationships stronger or turn them unhealthy.
MIRANDA: “It has definitely changed. We can’t even dispute that. I think it’s both better and worse. On the healthy side, we have those good morning texts that we all love to get that brighten your day and lets you know someone is thinking of you. On the unhealthy side, that is somebody who is controlling you and trying to manipulate you in a certain way or maybe you got in a fight the night before and they’re sending you a good morning text acting like they did not do anything wrong. I also think that on the healthy side you can feel supported when you’re not physically with someone, which is a good thing. I also think it makes long distance more possible, as long as there is trust there. But now you can also see the locations of everyone and anyone on any social media platform. We also brought in this new thing of sexting, that I could go on a rant about. But that can be used for good or for blackmail or revenge, it could just get really really messy really really fast. 12:00
At Iowa Victim Service Call Center, Miranda sees and hears from all types of relationships on the spectrum and all types of people. On a daily, she will hear from single people feeling the effects of an old relationship, people who are starting a new relationship and also people who have been together for 20 plus years. There is always something that the relationship spectrum and talking to a professional can do to help. Iowa Victim’s Center also provides a power and control wheel that helps people understand a little more of what they are facing in unhealthy and abusive relationships, and what crosses the line. Miranda also suggests a resource called the My Plan App that helps to identify red flags, healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.
You can call the Iowa Victim Service Center at 1-800-770-1650 or text Iowa Help to 20121 to talk to someone, like Miranda, 24/7. You can also take the Love is Respect Quiz for yourself or view their handouts at Love Is Respect dot org. Or check out the app, My Plan in the apple store.
MORGAN: When you think of relationships, your first thought might not be about what you’re having for dinner. But our relationships with food consume a lot of our lives. A lot of people intend to make this relationship a healthy one, but many struggle to make it enjoyable while they’re at it.
Mia Tirado talked with a couple people who are trying to just that—not just for themselves, but for everyone.
MIA TIRADO: 45 million Americans go on a weight-loss diet each year, spending over $60 billion on weight loss strategies. Yet perceptions of healthy eating and weight loss dieting are still often misconstrued, resulting in weight-loss plans that just don’t work and leaving people wondering why. According to a study done at UCLA, people will lose 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight just to regain more weight than they initially started off with. The problem is that people tend to view diets as a temporary means to lose weight, rather than considering healthy eating as a lifestyle for improved mental functioning, physical health, and mental clarity.
Pedro Yanga, trainer, gym co-owner, and restaurant owner of Fittingly Delicious in Chicago, IL, is making it his responsibility to help change people’s perceptions on living a healthy lifestyle. At Fittingly Delicious, they specialize in creating low calorie, delicious, healthy meals that are meant for meal prepping, the concept of preparing whole meals ahead of schedule to keep in the fridge and microwave throughout the week.
At Fittingly Delicious, they make and package the meals for you, so you can keep them in your fridge for up to four days and microwave whenever desired. The idea of meal prepping has been a trend for years, starting on social media where fitness fanatics would post their prepared meals weekly. Fittingly Delicious took this trend and and intends on taking an educational spin to show people that this is a healthy and effective lifestyle.
Pedro Yanga: (9:04 – 9:53) “I think that people have the tendency to think that if it’s healthy, then it’s not going to taste good. Once they actually go into fittingly delicious and try the meals out, they’re like, “Hey, this is actually good and it’s healthy!” I think that a lot of people aren’t educated about the whole eating healthy thing. They think that you’re eating grass, that it’s very bland and it can’t taste good or it’s not filling. Once they introduce these healthy meals to their diet they’re like, “You know what this is doable, this is actually good.” And most times they will say, “This is actually better than the junk food I’m eating.” They’re feeling better and they start seeing the results.”
Mia Tirado: The idea behind Pedro’s restaurant is a recipe right out of his own book. He relies on meal prepping to suit his busy lifestyle—running two businesses, training for bodybuilding competitions, and working a full-time job as a police officer.
Pedro Yanga: (6:00 – 7:33) “It made me more efficient. I think for most people they have this relationship with food where it almost controls their life. I run across it with everybody I know, with clients that I deal with. Their relationship with food is more like, they’re obsessed over it. It’s non stop thinking about food or I can’t wait to have this, I can’t wait to drink this. I don’t think that way. I do not. With me, I have 6-7 meals a day, very strict, very lean, very healthy. That’s all I think about. When it’s time for me to eat, I eat every 3 hours or every 2 ½ hours. I’m surrounded by bad food , there’s fast food joints all over the place and I don’t crave those. I crave my own meals. I understand the way I think about food and the way I function is not very common, it’s not very normal. But I think early on in life I set my standards high with the way I’m going to be, the way I’m going to look, and the way I’m going to feel. It just stayed on with me. It evolved to even stronger now. I think it’s even cleaner now because of the knowledge that I have. I’ve always had this thing with me to be better than the year before.”
Mia Tirado: Another misconception that Pedro noticed is people believe that healthy eating is costly and time intensive. According to a study done in France, meal planning can act as a potential tool to offset time scarcity, and therefore encourage home meal preparation, which has been linked with an improved diet quality.
Pedro Yanga: (10:41 – 11:43) Before fittingly delicious, when I meal prepped it me 45 minutes to meal prep. So, it’s really not that long of a time that’s required. People make a big deal out of it like it’ll take all day—it does not. If you get a simple recipe for a healthy cooking ground turkey, or chicken, if you put it in the oven, or you put fish in the oven and let that cook for 20-25 minutes, then you’re done. You have your Tupperware or whatever you’re going to use and separate them and put your healthy carbs in there—whether it’s sweet potatoes, or quinoa or brown rice, or basmati rice, and some veggies and you’re good to go. This is actually very economical. It’s just a matter of just starting it. It may seem difficult in the beginning but then once you get acclimated to the whole action of it then you get used to it.
Mia Tirado: Lina Caro, manager of Fittingly Delicious, helps develop recipes for the restaurant. Her relationship with food started at the early age of 14, where she had the misbelief of healthy eating and its correlation to weight gain. Over the years, she has educated herself on healthy eating, fitness, and diets. When she started getting into healthy eating, she noticed that a lot of the food she ate was bland and uninteresting. Lina started to eat a variety of flavorful meals that she enjoyed, improving her relationship with healthy eating. At Fittingly Delicious, they cut out traditional ingredients such as all-purpose flour and granulated sugar, that may trigger different food intolerances. Lina makes sure that the meals are well balanced, filling, and tasty.
Lina Caro (12:12): It would be harder probably for us because we don’t have like sugar or real flour or things that make it so easy and amazing. We have to go around it and use other ingredients… (14:17) When you get rid of things that your body is not supposed to have, some people have more intolerances than others. Let’s say you have an intolerance to gluten and you don’t know or dairy. That affects the way you think, and [the way] your brain functions and it makes you depressed. It affects everything.
Mia Tirado: Lina admits that she is still learning the different ways to care for her own body. Lina recently gave birth to her first child, and with that came a lot of mindfulness in how she took care of her body. While she has had had a healthy relationship with food for a long time now, she became significantly more mindful once she was pregnant. After the pregnancy, she developed a new mentality to keep her body healthy.
Lina Caro: (15:55) The easiest way to follow a healthy lifestyle is thinking of yourself if you were a baby, having the [same] love and respect for your own body.
Mia Tirado: With Lina’s help, Fittingly Delicious has not only created a reputation for itself but has educated people enough into sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Both Lina and Pedro have seen the results in people’s lives, and how their perceptions of healthy eating have changed.
Pedro Yanga: (16:15 – 16:53) They start seeing results. Aside from the very obvious of losing weight, they feel less bloated, they feel more energized, everything, mentally, the clarity, thinking a lot better, sleeping a lot better. So, these things combined creates a much improved daily lifestyle. When you eat healthy, you feel good, mentally and physically.
Mia Tirado: Pedro and Lina have seen transformations from people of all lifestyles—single mothers with full time jobs, women who just got out of labor, people trying to lose weight effectively. The key is consistency, as all their clients who have seen results have used their meal prep plan for long amounts of time, at least 3 months. The effects have not only caused them to lose weight, but have also created a regimen of consistency—exercising, sleep, mental clarity and energy.
Everywhere In Between Graphic by Mia Tirado.