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Relationships can provide the necessary emotional support to help a student cope with the pressures of school and/or work. However, balancing a committed, romantic relationship with academic and occupational demands, can often lead to a conflict of roles. Other kinds of relationship issues in need of delicate navigation include those with professors, peers, and mentors, in which boundaries between the personal and professional can sometimes be unclear.

How do relationships impact academics?

A relationship can vacillate between being a source of support and being an additional source of stress. It is important for you to identify where a particular relationship falls on the stress-support continuum and to set boundaries accordingly in order to prevent decline in academic functioning.

How do they impact the workplace?

Collaboration is an important component of occupational functioning, particularly in laboratory and clinical settings. Therefore, healthy working relationships with peers and supervisors are crucial to occupational success.

How healthy is your relationship?

Consider the following questions for all of your relationships.


  • Does each of you maintain and respect healthy boundaries?
  • Does each of you feel free to express your opinion?
  • Does your relationship allow for change and growth?
  • Is time spent with friends and family encouraged and respected?
  • Does your relationship get in the way of school, work, or other commitments?


  • Are you honest with each other?
  • Are you able to be yourself when you are together?
  • Does your partner/family member/friend say one thing but mean another?
  • Can you depend on each other?


  • Do you treat each other with respect and kindness?
  • Is either of you overly negative or critical?
  • Has either of you ever acted in a threatening manner?
  • Do either of you have a problem controlling anger?
  • Do you argue on a regular basis?
  • Do either of you have a problem with alcohol or drugs?


  • Are you gaining something positive from the relationship?
  • Do you feel cared for and valued?
  • Does spending time together make you happy?
  • Is time spent with friends and family encouraged and respected?
  • Does your relationship get in the way of school, work, or other commitments?


  • Is there equal and open communication in the relationship?
  • Do you ask for each other’s opinions?
  • Do you listen to each other and try to see things from the other’s point of view?
  • Do you share helpful information with each other?
  • Does each of you share a genuine interest in what the other has to say?


Conflict in a relationship is normal. But how you handle the conflict can make or break a healthy relationship. If you handle the conflict in a positive way, you can diffuse the anger and come to common ground—a win-win situation. However, if you argue unfairly, you will not reach a compromise and neither of you will be happy. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid in conflict resolution, as well as tips for positive communication during disagreements.

Common pitfalls

  • Refusal to listen to the other’s point of view
  • Using disrespectful language or name calling
  • Assuming you know the other person’s motives or thoughts
  • Refusal to compromise
  • Bringing up past events to fuel the argument
  • Refusal to apologize
  • Arguing when you are too angry
  • Planning what you are going to say next while the other is talking

Tips for positive communication

  • Be open to hearing the other person’s point of view, even if you disagree.
  • Show your partner/family member/firend you are listening by restating what you hear him or her say.
  • Avoid blame and judgment.
  • Allow the other person to explain and don’t interrupt.
  • Discuss the issue without bringing up the past.
  • Admit that you may be wrong—saying you are sorry can go a long way toward solving conflict.
  • If you are angry, give yourself time to calm down before talking.
  • Really listen to the other person and calmly respond to his or her points.
  • Attack the problem, not each other.
  • Be willing to give and take.

What does intimate partner violence (IPV) look like?

Emotional Control

  • Intimidating a partner
  • Accusing a partner of having other relationships
  • Threatening a partner, children, other family members, or pets
  • Always putting a partner down or making him or her feel bad
  • Keeping a partner from contacting friends and family

Verbal Control

  • Accusing and blaming a partner
  • Name calling
  • Playing down a partner’s thoughts, feelings, or needs
  • Denying anger or abuse
  • Threatening to commit suicide to convince a partner to do something

Financial Control

  • Taking a partner’s ID, paycheck, money, credit cards, or property without permission
  • Racking up debt without a partner’s knowledge
  • Purposely ruining a partner’s credit score
  • Bothering a partner at work to negatively impact a job
  • Denying basic needs of life to a partner and/or children

Physical Control

  • Pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, or biting
  • Damaging property
  • Forcing a partner to have sex or to do sexual acts she or he does not want or like
  • Refusing to leave or allowing someone to leave

Warning signs of partner violence

The following questions may help you determine if you are at risk:

Do you:

  • Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • Feel that you can’t do anything right?
  • Believe that you deserve to be mistreated?
  • Wonder if you are, or are becoming, crazy?
  • Feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Common myths about partner violence:

  1. I asked for it. No one asks to be hurt.  It doesn’t matter what you do, if your partner abuses you, it’s wrong.
  2. This is normal in relationships. Even if you grew up in a home with violence and abuse, these are not normal or acceptable behaviors.
  3. If I love him or her enough the abuse will stop. It is true that the abuser needs love. But without outside help, he or she will not change, even with your love. Violence is the abuser’s pattern of behavior and not something that you can control.
  4. Things will get better. If abuse is occurring in a relationship, it usually gets worse over time. Things will not get better without some type of intervention.
  5. No one can help me. If you can take the initial step of deciding there is a problem, there are many resources available to assist you, including JHSAP.

You and your spouse or partner are eligible for confidential services, without charge. All records are maintained and managed by JHSAP; clinical records are NOT part of your academic file. All clinical documentation is maintained separately from EPR and EPIC medical records.

If you are close to someone impacted by intimate partner violence and in need of some support, a JHSAP counselor is available to listen to your experience and help you find ways to care for yourself in this stressful situation.

Domestic Violence Hurts Everyone brochure for international students

What resources are available?

Individual counseling aimed at developing healthy communication, conflict resolution, and boundary setting skills can address issues in personal and professional relationships. Couples counseling is an effective way to address relationship issues between romantic partners. Mediation can help resolve conflict by offering a skilled and neutral third party as a facilitator.

JHSAP can help students cultivate relationship skills through individual sessions and/or group workshops and presentations.

Talk to Someone Now

Toll Free: 866-764-2317

In case of an emergency, call 911.