To a degree, we have some form of relationship with practically everyone we know, or at least those we interact with on a semi-regular basis. Each and every relationship we have will be different to the next, owing to the fact that whenever two people interact, two completely individual personalities are meeting. In university in particular, you will find that you develop some of the most significant relationships of your life, and you will find that college is a dynamic landscape where you will encounter all manner of person. While this will hopefully be a positive thing almost all of the time, you will inevitably meet people you do not gel with. This is just as significant a lesson as anything else, and knowing how to approach people you do not necessarily get on with will prove to be an incredibly valuable life lesson too.

No relationship is without its efforts and it is crucial to know how to maintain a healthy, happy and rewarding relationship, no matter who it is with.  It is important to never take a relationship for granted. This stands particularly true with regard to friends, family and partners. Take time to think about what those closest to you mean to you from time to time - think of all the ways that they improve your life or improve you as a person. Why not let them know? People can have a tendency to keep things bottled up, and often people do not give each other positive affirmation or credit where credit is due. Take a minute to tell a friend how much you appreciate something they’ve done for you recently. Not only will this make them feel appreciated, it will also help to strengthen your relationship. The same can be said for almost all relationships. Expressions of gratitude and sincerity are well and truly invaluable.

On the opposite side of that, if you feel that you are being negatively affected by certain relationships, then it is vital that you do not allow yourself to suffer in silence.

If you feel that someone you know is creating a lot of negativity in your relationship and, as a result, in your life, and you think that this issue can be solved by talking about it, then you should do so. Maybe the person does not even realise what they are doing? Approaching the situation with an attitude of conversation, rather than confrontation, would be the best. An aggressive approach is almost never beneficial, and if a person feels like they are being attacked in a discussion, then the likelihood of any positive change coming from it is remote.  If however, you feel that the issues within the relationship are too serious to handle in such a way, or if you even feel threatened or unsafe within the relationship, then it is important that you let someone you trust know, as soon as possible. Friends, family or counsellors will help you discuss how to handle the situation in any relationship, be it personal or professional.

Romantic Relationships

Falling in love and being in a committed relationship with a person is undoubtedly a big deal, and a significant thing to take on in life. There are many elements to consider and there is no denying the significance of not only this person’s effect on your emotional wellbeing, but also your effect on theirs. Relationships like this can be truly beautiful things, but only if they are nurtured by both parties. Mutual respect is essential, and honest understanding of one another’s feelings, issues, emotions and concerns is one sure-fire way to ensure contentment within a relationship.

Accept differences that exist between you. No two people are exactly the same and that’s what makes people so dang interesting! Embrace one another’s differences, learn from them! Take differences as a means of maintaining independence in a relationship.  If one of you loves reading and the other loves sport, then dedicating time for each of you to do your respective things will mean that your independence remains intact, and you never feel bogged down in a relationship. On the back of that, enjoy the time you spend together! Sometimes, once a relationship becomes serious, a couple may stop doing the activities that brought them together in the first place. You may have met at a gig, went on dates to gigs, but maybe now you never go to gigs anymore! What is the point of a relationship, if not to enjoy the company of another person?

Respect each other's space. You will have lots of good relationships in lots of different ways. The other person will have this to. Having multiple relationships usually gives you lots to talk about.

Be positive about what you have in your relationship and let your partner know what you value about him/her and about the relationship. Put it into words and don't assume they already know. Everybody likes to be told that they are appreciated and loved

Practice making "I" statements about how you feel. This avoids putting your partner on the spot, and may help him or her do the same. For example "I feel hurt you didn't ask me before you decided" instead of "Why didn't you ask me first?” After an argument, look at the deeper feeling behind the anger: hurt, anxiety, or sense of being let down. Talk to your partner about these feelings.

If you need contraceptive advice, then contact the Student Health Unit (

Making Friends

Some of the best friends you make in life will be the ones that you make in college. With that in mind, it is essential that you enter the college environment with an open mind about all the people you meet. Some people that you end up becoming closest to might be people you never would have imagined yourself being friends with, and someone who seemed as if they fit the bill for the sort of person you would click with really might not that sort of person at all.

Starting a conversation – People tend to like talking about themselves. As a conversation starter, ask them something about them. Ask open questions that require the other person to talk back to you. If you ask a closed question, where the answer is only yes or no, then you’ll only get a one-word answer. Simple questions are the best ones to start, and from these basic conversation starters you should find some things you have in common and more things to talk about.

The trick is essentially just to listen and to genuinely try to be interested in what a person is talking about. Smile! Engage in conversation. Find common ground. Most of all, be yourself. Don’t pretend to be interested in something you’re not for the sake of befriending someone. Why be friends with someone you have absolutely nothing in common with?

Sometimes of course people do not respond to you as you would like. Try not to take disappointing responses personally. Remember the other person may be having a bad day that is nothing to do with you - they may just be in a rush or they may feel shy too. You will not gel with everyone you meet and that’s okay!


Moving in with strangers can be a daunting experience if it is your first time. Much more than merely meeting someone in a social situation, living with someone puts you in contact with their living habits … weird diet, personal hygiene, aversion to dishes, partying too much, obsessive cleaning (best of a bad bunch maybe?) … or generally being a terrific person who you click with instantly! Relationships with housemates are always interesting. Living in close proximity to a person automatically creates a dynamic that is quite unique, even if you never see them outside of the house, or within a social context. Living with strangers will teach you new communication skills (you will masterthe art of small-talk) and ways of dealing with differences between people in ways you never knew a person could. Compromise will become a part of living with people, and always remember that they may well be compromising with accepting some of your weird habits too!

If you follow these healthy relationships tips you should be able to enjoy your house in relative harmony

  • Treat each other with respect
  • Tolerate differences
  • Argue well and manage conflicts
  • Support one another
  • Enjoy the time you spend together
  • Have privacy in the relationship
  • Communicate clearly your wants, desires and needs
  • Have other supportive relationships
  • Be honest
  • Have expectations based on reality, not fantasy
  • Overcome disappointments with yourself and the other

If you find that you or your housemates are behaving towards each other as per the list below, then it is worth thinking about seeking help

  • Trying to control or manipulate the other
  • Blaming the other for the relationship not working
  • Ridiculing or calling names
  • Being afraid of the other
  • Not listening or respecting the other
  • Being violent towards the other
  • Forcing the other to do something they do not want to do

Being a good communicator and a good listener

To encourage greater communication in relationships:

  • set aside time for you to talk without distraction
  • talk about what is happening for you at uni and ask the other how things are for them
  • be honest
  • be respectful
  • accept responsibility for your own feelings
  • share any anxiety about how the relationship is going
  • state what you want and need
  • negotiate politely
  • listen actively. Try to do as much listening as talking. Actively listen to what is being said. Make sure you understand everything that is being said; assume nothing. Pay close attention to the speaker look at their face (eyes) Ask the other to tell you what they understand you have said. This way you can make sure they have heard and understood you.

 A good listener is someone who:

  • keeps comfortable eye contact (where culturally appropriate)
  • lets the other person speak without interruption
  • asks appropriate questions
  • has an open, non-defensive body position – a relaxed posture
  • avoids distracting gestures, such as fidgeting with a pen, glancing at papers, tapping feet or fingers
  • mutes phones and other communication devices to ensure that they are really listening
  • is genuinely interested
  • shows they understand by paraphrasing the speakers own words
Smile It shows you are friendly and approachable
Open your posture Uncross you arms and legs and you'll look more relaxed
Forward Lean toward the person or move closer to show you are paying attention
Touch A hand on another person's arm can be a welcome gesture
Eye contact This shows that you want to hear what the other person is saying
Nod This shows that you are hearing the other person