Healthy and happy relationships: a debrief of NGU’s relationship workshop

Healthy and happy relationships: a debrief of NGU’s relationship workshop

Photo courtesy Tyler Nix at Unsplash

Samantha Meyeres, Staff Writer

February is widely known as the month of love. So what better month is there to help people pursue healthy relationships? 

Every year in February, North Greenville University holds a Relationship Goals Workshop to equip students to walk confidently in the world of flirtation, dating, marriage and even just friendship.

This year, every Thursday beginning February 15 and ending March 7, Sara Black, McKenzie Grigg and Braden Shuffer lead the workshop, giving insight on how to pursue a healthy relationship. Although mainly focused on romantic relationships, the workshop covered how to maintain healthy platonic and familial relationships as well. 

The four weeks of the workshop were structured around a curriculum that comes from John Van Epp’s book “How to Avoid Falling in Love with a Jerk.” Week one focused on how to get to know somebody, week two focused on building trust and reliance, week three on commitment and week four on physical intimacy. These topics are all part of the relationship-attachment model, a concept that Van Epp’s book centralizes around. 

Director of Student Health Sara Black said that due to the fact that they had to change the dates of the workshop, the turnout this year was not as strong as other years, averaging six to 10 students a week. In years past they have had as many as 20 students per session. Black shared that, although she would love for more people to attend the workshop, the small number of people made for a welcoming atmosphere that prompted engaging discussion. 

Students with varying relationship statuses attended: some never having been in a relationship before and others engaged or even married. Although there are typically more females that attend, they have always had at least a couple guys present at every meeting as well.

Black said that this variety of relationship status, as well as the male to female ratio, presented in a safe space provided a unique dynamic for discussions.

She said, “The girls wanted to know what guys thought and the guys wanted to know what girls thought about things.”

This created a very open and informational atmosphere as the students felt that they were in a space where they were able to openly ask whatever questions they had regarding relationships.

This workshop is something that most people go through only once, but Black shared that they have had a few people come back two years in a row. These students wanted to focus on how their perspective regarding relationships has changed over the years, as they felt they were in a very different spot mentally.

In the future, the Relationship Goals Workshop will continue to be offered, even if some minor changes occur. Black said that in years past, they have done panels or Q&As intermingled with the discussions, and she can see them adding that aspect back in years to come. A panel would give students an opportunity to ask questions of others in different walks of life. 

Healthy relationships can be tricky, but with the help of experienced adults and engaging discussion with peers that the workshop offers, the idea can become less daunting.

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