Re-Evaluation of relationships: Why romantic relationships aren't all one needs

 Illustration by Athena Heckman

 

When one hears the word “relationship”, oftentimes a romantic connection is brought to mind. However, there are many other types of meaningful relationships to have in one’s life and how the word can stereotype them less.

 

While many high school relationships are the typical picturesque relationship, many high school students would rather have meaningful friendships instead of or in addition to their romantic ones.

 

From someone to talk to or someone to hang out with, a friend is always available to be there -- even if it is someone of the other gender.

 

“Having friends of the opposite gender has helped me in other relationships by showing me how to think with a different point of view,” senior Anna Halleck said.

 

When students go through tough times in their personal or school lives, friends are people they can count on to listen and give genuine advice.

 

With friends of the opposite gender, they provide different outlooks and ways to look at a situation. English teacher Laura Calland reflected on her experiences growing up.

 

“Different perspectives and different ways of thinking have helped me from my experiences throughout my high school years,” Calland said.

 

There are many ways to make friends, especially from a young age. Taking advantage of the people in one’s classes, neighbors or within the activities that students participate in after or during school can help build connections.

 

“Personally, I feel that an easy way to make friends with people of either gender is through school and classes,” Halleck said.

 

“Being friends with Halleck has helped me develop as a person because she shares her perspective of the world and has helped me realize that there are multiple ways to see life by not just seeing it from one point of view,” senior Gian Ramos said.

 

Some of the ways that students have made friends with the opposite gender are from the early years of schooling or family friends. These experiences can allow making friends easier later on in life based on the almost forced friendships that happen when people are growing up.

 

“I feel the younger (someone is) the better it is to make friends with the other gender. No harm can come from it. It gives you an opportunity to learn from them and their experiences,” Halleck said.

 

According to Huffpost.com, “it is never too early to encourage our kids to mix up their friend group. This should be considered yet one more aspect of their high school education.”

The idea of friendships with the opposite gender has its negatives as well.

 

“There is added pressure with having friends of the opposite gender,” Calland said.

 

The extra weight on one’s shoulders comes from the need to impress or the nervous feeling of how to act around people of the other gender. Sometimes this pressure may cause more panic than pleasure.

 

According to Huffpost.com, “When there is no hidden agenda, no pressure to date and no expectation of anything other than a lovely friendship, they can focus in on paying attention to the perspective of the opposite sex.”

 

Calland said that the idea of having friends of the other gender is more based on the situation for each person not a general rule that is generic for everyone. “Students should try to find their niche,'' Calland said.

 

“Friendships with the opposite gender can teach and show you things that friendships with your same gender can not,” Halleck said.

 

Relationships in life don’t always have to be romantic with people of the other gender, but the relationship can always teach one more about who they are or an experience that will likely occur in life.

 

As one gets older and grows into adulthood, relationships in the workplace will become even more important. While having friendships is important at a job, the professional connections one makes are what truly drive success.

 

Relationships are the base of human interaction. Whether it’s a best friend, parent or a teacher, one cannot deny that relationships hold an important part in everyone's life. However, it is as important to build professional relationships as it is to build personal relationships.

 

A professional relationship is a relationship built “through work or networking” in order to get to know others in a professional field better, business teacher Teresa Gellenbeck said. These relationships are important to create because “building contacts and relationships can make for a better work environment, but also potentially help with sales deals, interviews, job openings and other opportunities,” Gellenbeck said.

 

“It’s really important that you have an open and transparent relationship with your colleagues that’s built on trust,” College Survival Skills teacher Andrea Vescelius said. And building trusting relationships starts with something simple: how one treats others.

 

According to Small Business Trends.com, it is important for one to build confidence, trust and respect with other coworkers and business people. If one builds a reputation as an expert in ones field and also takes time to help others who are struggling, one is more likely to gain opportunities in their field and receive help in their weaker areas.

 

“Treating others with kindness and respect, getting to know people during social times (lunch, meetings, outings, etc)” is how you build professional relationships, Gellenbeck said.

 

“You have to build a network because education is one thing but then having the experience in the field is another” and knowing people in the field will help one start to learn the field, Vescelius said.

 

On top of that, having relationships with important people can help reach future goals.

 

“I've had college professors who helped me get an interview and previous bosses who offered to be references for me,” Gellenbeck said, “it isn't what you know, but who you know in the business world.”

 

It is also important to build mutual respect with one’s colleagues. One wants to feel that their work is valued and taken seriously. If one respects others work, they will have a stronger relationship with co-workers.

 

In addition, “professors are always looking at your work, and they are always looking for people to do work with them,” Vescelius said. When going into college, it’s important to build professional relationships with professors and turn in one’s best work to ensure future opportunities to work with them.

 

According to the website Small Business Trends.com, it is important to be one’s authentic self when creating professional relationships. Although the relationship is professional, people want to work with people who act as their genuine selves.

 

The website Chron also emphasizes to  “establish contacts with counterparts from other businesses and colleagues in other departments within your organization”. It is important to network with people who have strengths where one has weaknesses because then one will be able to improve on those weaker areas.

 

Creating these business relationships will allow for future success, showing how relationships don’t have to be romantic all the time, so why is that the most common go-to connotation?

Throughout history, relationships have changed as time has progressed. Interactions among people are constantly evolving, and the fluctuations of the English language can impact this evolution greatly.

 

Depending upon the audience, there could be a multitude of answers and immediate thoughts when thinking of this simple word, “relationships”.

 

“Words are universal, but their connotations are very personal. So, the way we internalize the specific meanings of these words will vary from person to person,” English teacher Tyler Williams said.

 

One’s interpretation of a word will be completely based on their personal adaptations and experiences. Every event in their lives shape their personality and mind, causing them to derive to certain conclusions.

 

“We have all had different experiences.  If someone has been really hurt by others they have a negative connotation (of relationships), where as someone who grew up in a loving home with examples of healthy relationships they don’t think anything of it,” Family consumer science teacher Alli Cochran said.

 

As time has gone on, society has become more close-minded when it comes to certain things, opinions being one of them. When someone has an idea about something based on their own experiences, it is usually difficult to get them to see a bigger picture, or another viewpoint.

 

“I think people often think of only romantic relationships when they hear the word “relationships” when in reality relationships refer to all relationships such as peers, teacher/ student, parent, siblings, coaches, teammates, co-workers and bosses,” Cochran said.

 

According to Psychology Today, a study in 2002 conducted that over the span of six years, 976 relationship-related research studies had been done. 677 of those studies were about romantic interests. Therefore, the majority of scholarly research done about relationships cover only romantic relationships.

 

“People are unique individuals with different perspectives on the world around us. Since people have different types, amounts and degrees of relationships with those around them, they are going to internalize the specific meaning and connotations of this word in different ways,” Williams said.

 

Regardless of the audience, there is a proven bias revealing that people jump to the assumption that the main meaning of the word “relationship” is simply romantic relations between two people.

      

“I think that people in our society might view relationships as being only among those we are dating because we have a strong desire to feel unique. By having a relationship with just our significant other, we are saying that this is special, that we are special,” Williams said.

Society needs a wider perspective on topics such as relationships because it helps to understand how to work and communicate with other people in a vast number of situations.

           

“In today's society, we often feel cut off from others and isolated (either intentionally or not) from people, especially those who have different perspectives and values from our own,” Williams said.

 

Learning and understanding the different functions that come along with relationships may strengthen not only those bonds but can also improve one’s ability when faced with conflict resolution.

           

“Broadening our definition of relationships and realizing that having these do not mean that we need to agree on all things and be totally positive 100 percent of the time. However, it would help to strengthen these connective bonds within society,” Williams said.

 

Relationships impact the lives of each person every day in their own unique way, so who’s to say a relationship has to fit one exact mold? Allow the different types of relationships to grow, keep an open mind to what the meaning could be and one might be surprised by the positive outcomes.

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