Relationship IQ’s four interns (Sam Fiallo, Melissa Labnow, Jordan Smith and Carissa Coronado) await freshman visitors to their table at the 2019 Waves Expo on Alumni Park during New Student Orientation week. The four women worked for the program to provide peer support regarding all types of relationships. Photo courtesy of Melissa Labnow
Pepperdine’s Relationship IQ program serves as a support network for students to develop the relational skills necessary to navigate friendships and relationships. Four Relationship IQ interns spoke from their internship — and personal — experience, giving insight into ways they maintain healthy relationships.
Every day, the rock outside the Caf is different. I’ve joked that the foundation underneath is probably tiny under all the stacked layers of paint.
This is how I saw myself: a small rock. Every day, a new experience in a new relationship gave me a new layer of paint. I relied on my suitemate, my friend in class or that boy to tell me who I was. If he didn’t want to date me, I must be ugly. If I made them laugh, I must be hilarious. If she got a better grade than me, I must be stupid. I built these layers of myself that would get painted over by a new interaction the next day.
Paint is pretty, and relationships with people should provide perspective on how others see you. But don’t forget about the rock. Don’t forget that only God knows who you truly are, and that can never be washed away.
Reflecting on my two years as a Relationship IQ intern, several topics and conversations have resonated with my life. However, there is one topic that came at a time when I desperately needed help in my romantic relationship: the Pain and Peace Cycles.
The Pain Cycle refers to a pattern of negative feelings and coping styles that we tend to find ourselves stuck in when we are in conflict with others. Conversely, the Peace Cycle is a healthy pattern of thoughts and coping behavior.
I realized that in past and current relationships, I had adopted more Pain Cycle responses. When conflict arose in my relationships, I tended to let my feelings of inadequacy and insecurity ignite my coping behaviors of self-shaming and [of] controlling my significant other. This led to my significant other adopting negative feelings and coping mechanisms, and the cycle continued.
Learning about healthy ways to cope with emotions during conflict is a crucial skill and has led to a more mature version of myself in romantic relationships.
Being a senior does not mean that I have all the answers, especially about relationships, but it does mean that I have learned a lot while at Pepperdine. I have come to know more about myself, including the fact that I avoid conflict whenever possible.
One of the most important things I have learned is that conflict is essential for communication, one of the fundamental aspects of healthy relationships. Say your roommate’s loud music bothers you, your significant other never asks about your day, or your parents don’t trust you to make decisions and countless other possible conflicts. If you do not address that thing that pushes your personal boundaries, it will start to affect how you perceive that person and the relationship, and even possibly begin to change how you treat them … when they have no idea why.
While it seems counterintuitive, bringing up a conflict can show how much you respect them because you care enough about them to work on the relationship.
My takeaway from relationships in college is that it’s OK to have certain friends for specific things. Some friends are the ones you go to a movie with, others are the ones you have deep conversations about philosophy or religion with, and then you have the people you hang out with if you want to sit around all day and watch “The Office.” No one person can be the person to fill every relational need.
Keeping that in mind, you should not expect your friends to be able to carry every part of what you need from a relationship. And more than that, don’t pressure yourself to be everything to your friends! Be the friend God made you to be in that specific relationship. For instance, don’t force yourself into a “deep conversation” role when you might actually fit best in a “going to the movies” role for that friend. Be content in knowing you can’t be everything for other people.
Apply to be a Relationship IQ intern for the 2020-2021 school year on the Relationship IQ website.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email the Graphic: PeppGraphicMedia@gmail.com