When we go into schools, we invite students to submit questions about sexual health by putting them in a box. We then take time at the end of our presentation to answer as many of them as we can. The ones that we can’t get to, we answer through social media, sometimes through Instagram, and sometimes through a blog entry such as this one. Several students have voiced their concerns over how to know when you are in love, or how to know when you have found the right person.

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching my little brother get married. Being at a wedding definitely makes you think about love, and what exactly is love? I think the first step is knowing if it is healthy love. I know without a doubt that I have found the love that is right for me and that my brother has found his right love, but why am I so sure of this? Respect. Respect is, in my opinion, the most important quality in a relationship. If you respect each other, then you are free to have open discussions, to be yourself, and to disagree with each other. It’s one thing to get along when everything is going well, but what happens when there are bumps in the road? How do you act towards each other then? Does your partner support you and listen to you when you need it? Does your partner respect your opinions on different matters even if you have a different point of view?

Finding love with someone starts with having a healthy relationship. This means that you listen and talk openly with each other; You enjoy spending time with each other, but respect that you can do activities separately; You trust, respect and support each other; You care about each other in good times and in bad times; And you are free to disagree with each other.

On the other hand, if your partner interrupts, ignores you or puts you down; If you feel scared, hurt, or uneasy around your partner; If you feel controlled, pressured, bullied, teased or criticized; If you don’t feel cared for when you need it; And if you can’t be yourself around your partner; These are all signs of an unhealthy relationships and indicators that you should re-think your choice of partner.

In short, when it comes to relationships and love, I would give you the same advice my dad always gave me: “Give respect and demand respect”. This short saying will go a long way in ensuring you have healthy relationships, making it more likely to find love with someone.

Written by: Amélie McFadyen

Executive Director of HPV Awareness