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 | By Adam Cross

Real-lationships 101

In a world of TikTok, Snapchat and DMs, what does a healthy relationship look like in 2023? Whether we are trying to meet new friends in our classes, sports teams or youth ministry, or are pursuing a romantic relationship, building authentic relationships in our modern age can be a challenge. As we strive for healthy, holy, real relationships, here are a few compass points to guide us.


Made for intimacy

Guess what? We are made for authentic and healthy relationships. We are created in the image and likeness of God, and God as the Trinity of persons is relationship itself. We all crave intimacy because we are made by God, for God. We are made to be in perfect communion with a Father who created us and to be in communion with our beloved brothers and sisters in faith. Our desires for intimacy, connection and authentic friendship are not only good, but God-given!

It starts with you

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (22:39) So first we have to ask: “How do I love myself? Do I love myself?” The first step to having real relationships with others is to have a real relationship with ourselves. Loving others begins with loving ourselves.

To put this into practice, we can look to St. Paul’s words: “Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Cor 13:4) Being patient and kind with ourselves – with our thoughts, desires, anxieties and struggles – is the first step to loving ourselves and having a real relationship with ourselves. If we can recognize our own valid emotions, thoughts and experiences with patience and kindness, we will be better able to meet people where they are and begin to authentically relate with others.

Wounds and all

Living in this world, we can quickly see that it’s broken. Everyone we encounter is broken in some way as a result of original sin. As we strive to build a real relationship with ourselves, we will inevitably encounter our own wounds that need healing. As we encounter others, we might also quickly see their wounds and weaknesses.

Wounds can make it hard to relate to, trust and love others as we are called to, but they don’t need to keep us from real relationships. Some wounds might require us to set firm boundaries for ourselves and with others. We aren’t called to a close relationship with everyone we meet. But as we get to know others, we can invite Christ into our wounds and pursue the healing he longs to give us. This healing can happen through a priest, a teacher, youth minister, therapist, or a good friend or family member who reminds you of your worth and goodness.


While forming real relationships can seem daunting, we can turn to the Father to embrace our need for connection, self-knowledge, healing and a true sense of identity rooted in Christ. Real relationships begin by knowing who God is and who he made us to be. In the truth of Christ we can relate to others and be transformed by the amazing and beautiful people God has placed in our lives!

Adam Cross is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, and he worked as a youth minister at his local parish for 8 years. Adam loves to integrate the Catholic faith into his therapy practice.

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