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Leah Listens: Are You Falling into a Healthy Relationship?

The leaves are changing colors and the air is crisp, which means that autumn and “cuffing season” are here!

What is cuffing season? Cuffing season is a well-documented and researched pattern of human behavior that leads folks crave warmth and long to be in intimate, committed relationships during the cold winter months.

Whether you find yourself falling in love this cuffing season (or staying in love if you’re already coupled up), or if you’re just in the mood to be single and mingle, make sure to check in with yourself and decide if your relationships are healthy and bringing you joy! This guide (adapted from the University of Washington) can help you recognize if your new fall fling is healthy, or one you might want to pass on.

If you are in a healthy relationship, you and/or your partner:

  • Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship

  • Maintain and respect each other’s individuality

  • Maintain relationships with friends and family

  • Have activities apart from one another

  • Are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences

  • Are able to feel secure and comfortable

  • Allow and encourage other relationships

  • Take interest in one another’s activities

  • Do not worry about violence in the relationship

  • Trust each other and be honest with each other

  • Have the option of privacy

  • Have respect for sexual boundaries

  • Are honest about sexual activity if it is a sexual relationship

  • Resolve conflict fairly: Fighting is part of even healthy relationships, the difference is how the conflict is handled. 

If you are in an unhealthy relationship you and/or your partner might:

  • Put one person before the other by neglecting yourself or your partner

  • Feel pressure to change who you are for the other person

  • Feel worried when you disagree with the other person

  • Feel pressure to quit activities you usually/used to enjoy

  • Pressure the other person into agreeing with you or changing to suit you better

  • Notice one of you has to justify your actions (e.g., where you go, who you see)

  • Notice one partner feels obligated to have sex or has been forced

  • Have a lack of privacy and may be forced to share everything with the other person

  • Refuse to use safer sex methods

  • Notice arguments are not settled fairly

  • Experience yelling or physical violence during an argument

  • Attempt to control or manipulate each other

  • Notice your partner attempts to controls how you dress and criticizes your behaviors

  • Do not make time to spend with one another

  • Have no common friends or have a lack of respect for each other’s’ friends and family

  • Notice an unequal control of resources (e.g., food, money, home, car, etc.)

If you want to talk about your relationship or get support for your emotional and sexual health, we’re here for you!

Western Counseling Services

Website | 608-785-9553

Violence Prevention and Education Services

Leah Durnin Hoover

durninhooverl@westerntc.edu | 608-785-9446

Student Health Center

Website | 608-785-8558

Planned Parenthood of La Crosse (formerly Essential Health)

Website | 800-657-5177


Leah Listens is an ongoing column about healthy relationships, violence prevention, and mental health awareness. Stay tuned for more information and events!

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