A good and healthy relationship is rooted in a foundation of trust and empathy.

A shallow, “transactional” relationship is one where the connection doesn’t go any further than taking care of an immediate need. To progress past this to a strong, supportive relationship, both people need to share mutual respect and attention for one another — even if they receive nothing in return.

I’ve been in relationships with friends, teachers and adults who push me to be a better person, work harder in school and foster closer connections with my family, which I believe are traits of a healthy and positive relationship.

I’ve also been in other relationships where I could ask for an unlimited amount of favors and do anything I wanted without ever receiving a “no” in return.

While this relationship is convenient, it is NOT a good or healthy one. A vital part of a good relationship is setting boundaries for one another and acknowledging that you don’t have to say “yes” to everything!

If you find yourself lying or masking your true feelings when talking to someone, I would recommend asking, “Why do I feel that way?”  Then, when you are comfortable, share these feelings with the individual. It is not a healthy relationship if you only get along with that friend when you act like someone else.

Often, you’ll realize that they’re far more accommodating for you than you initially thought, which is great! If they’re not, I would rethink that relationship.

However, the overarching question, is: how do I seek these good relationships?

It may seem daunting, but my best advice is to put yourself out there — even if it’s uncomfortable at first.

Taking that first step makes all the difference. I know this journey well. I transferred to a high school far from home, not knowing a single person. Instead of crawling in a shell, I decided to run for student body president — and guess what? I lost, but that didn’t matter to me.

In doing so, I opened the door to meet new people and build lasting relationships that I keep today.

You don’t have to run for president, but joining clubs and after-school activities are a great way to meet people with a common thread, which is great for overcoming the initial nervousness of meeting new people.

Reading this article means you are already taking the most important step of all: reflecting.

Good luck on your ventures!

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