Three years ago this month, Dustin walked out of jail in Asheville, NC, and headed straight to a nearby drug rehab clinic. He had a bag of clothes over one shoulder and an old TV under the other. It was a drill he knew as well as anyone; for 20 years, he’d been cycling through lockup and detox, between dead-end jobs and nearly life-ending ones, all in service of his heroin addiction.
This time felt different. Nearing 40, he’d lost all interest in the addict’s life, the exhaustion, the lying, the cost and periodic horror, the nearness of death. During the months behind bars, alone in his own head, he’d also begun to believe he had special powers, like the ability to see through walls and to visualize others’ thoughts.
“Oh my, you picked up the phone!”
The caller sounded genuinely surprised and held her breath for a moment, before calmly telling her story. For more than a year, she and her husband have been largely trapped in their own home by their psychotic son. The 25-year-old refuses any treatment; he’s making threats and has a gun. Most nights he’s holed up in his room, doing drugs, while his parents try to sleep, behind their double-locked bedroom door.
Ever thought of how often you give consent in your relationship?
Consent is an agreement between two people, given through words or actions, that they are willing to engage in sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance does not count as consent. Some people cannot consent if intoxicated, sleeping or unconscious, or have specific disabilities. Consent involves active communication and knowing that one person always has the right to withdraw consent.
What is your strategy to build trust in a relationship?
It can take time to build trust. And while it can be hard to trust someone, especially if someone in the past broke your trust. It’s not fair to blame your current partner for something someone else did. Here are some ways to help build trust:
Open and honest communication is essential to every relationship because it allows you to share who you are and what you need from the people around you. Miscommunication is common but can often lead to problems, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. These tips will help you talk to your partner honestly.
Speaking: Be open and clear about how you are feeling; if you don’t understand something, tell them; use “I statements” so that the other person doesn’t feel like you are blaming or attacking them (“I feel that….); be honest, even if you think the other person might not like hearing I how you genuinely feel; apologize when you are wrong or hurt the other person; when talking about something negative, also mention something positive.
How to respond when your boundaries are crossed?
If a boundary has been crossed by your partner who didn’t know where your line was drawn, have an honest conversation. It could be something as simple as saying, “Hey, I don’t like it when you ________. This makes me uncomfortable. Do you think next time you can ______ instead?”
How would you let your partner know what your boundaries are?
You don’t have to sit down with your partner with a checklist of everything that makes you uncomfortable, but you need to be open and honest. Some things might come up early in a relationship, like if you are a virgin and don’t want to have sex until you’re ready. Some of the things may not come up for a while, like if your partner wants to share their passwords after you’ve been dating for six months.
Having boundaries is like drawing a line. One side has the things you are okay with and the other side has those that you are not okay with, don’t feel ready for, or make you uncomfortable. This line looks different for everyone, so you need to know where yours needs to be drawn. Setting boundaries is a way to teach your partner about your needs and let them know when something doesn’t feel right. You are allowed to put your needs before someone else’s needs especially if their needs make you uncomfortable.