By Kate Collins
Dawn began by describing her early relationship moments. She constantly daydreamed, picturing herself as a Cinderella character who was going to be saved by her Prince Charming.
She then described her first relationship in college, which she initially believed was everything she had ever wanted.
However, the relationship slowly fell apart, and Dawn noticed several signs of an unhealthy relationship.
Her ex-boyfriend was someone whom she recalled as incredibly controlling and manipulative.
Dawn stated that college students often have a difficult time being able to tell if a relationship is healthy or not.
In particular, 43 percent of college women report abusive dating behavior.
Dawn also said that 57 percent of college students admit that it is difficult to identify dating abuse and do not realize they are in an abusive relationship.
She then proceeded to share four signs of an unhealthy relationship.
First, your significant other separates you from family and friends.
Second, he or she controls every aspect of your life, from the type of clothes you can wear on a daily basis to who you can spend time with.
Third, your significant other may be flaky, unreliable, untrustworthy, dishonest and constantly breaking promises.
Fourth, he or she may impose unrealistic expectations for the relationship on you.
Once her first relationship ended, Dawn continued to describe her five “very, very, very, long years” of being single. She spoke of her misery being alone during these five years, and her constant desire to have someone she could post pictures of on Facebook. She yearned to have someone she could tell her friends about or someone to wait for her when she walked into a room.
She said, “I hated being single, but I was terrified, thinking that if I date another guy, what if he treats me exactly the same way as this past guy?” Dawn mentioned that she constantly strived for an image of perfection, which played into the whole “boy-crazy thing.”
When Dawn finally met someone new, she was able to discover healthier relationship signs, which she also shared.
The first was “community”; Instead of being isolated within a relationship, one is in a community and is able to talk to friends and mentors, establishing bonds with these people.
The second was “acceptance”; a significant other follows the guidelines that “this is who you are, and I’m going to accept you and I want to know you for you.”
The third was “integrity”; instead of being flaky, a significant other is honest and someone in whom you can place complete trust.
Fourth was “open communication,” which involves openness with a significant other and the ability to talk about your fears, hopes or anything else.
After this healthier relationship, Dawn was able to become more confident in herself. While the relationship may not have ultimately worked out, Dawn viewed it as a positive learning experience.
A shift in her ideals of what constituted a good relationship allowed Dawn to be content with being single. She finally realized what she truly deserved and continues to set a positive example for women.