SAMRU x MRU Wellness team up to provide students with a foundation to build healthy relationships

For many of us, we often hear warnings of “red flags” in relationships. Still, the truth is that it can be challenging to spot these warning signs if our caregivers didn’t model positive relationships for us to use as reference.

Generally, red flags indicate a sign to stop. They are those early warning signs at the beginning of a relationship (both platonic and romantic) that cause you to consider whether or not you should continue to get close to a person. This feeling is our intuition, but most people won’t quickly realize someone is abusing them or identify as abusive themselves.

Understanding and interpreting what green flags look like in relationships can help individuals understand what red flags look like and why they are harmful and unhealthy.

Building the Love You Want is a collaborative program run by Cari Ionson from MRU Wellness and Sarah Armstong from the SAMRU Pride Centre that actively engages students in understanding what positive relationships look like through self-development and peer support. Programs like Building the Love You Want encourage healthy behaviours and avoid focusing solely on negative experiences, often inducing trauma responses from abuse survivors.

Building the Love You Want runs every semester and is a 5-week course where students meet weekly to learn and grow together. Cari and Sarah are now offering a modified drop-in version of the program where students can choose to attend the workshops that appeal to them most.

The program offers students skills to take into their personal and professional lives, providing them with tools to set boundaries, navigate attachment styles, understand consent, and manage rejection.

“Peer support normalizes student experiences allowing students to feel validated by their peers and know they aren’t alone,” says Cari, “The content is full of sharing lived experiences. There is never pressure to share.”

When asked about what students love most about the program, Sarah and Cari agree it’s the workshop surrounding attachment styles. “Students enjoy discovering themselves in the discussion around attachment styles. A lot of things click, and students can better understand their behaviour and the behaviour of their partners,” says Sarah.

“Learning about attachment styles has helped me learn about my activation and take responsibility for how I am feeling. It’s helped me learn the difference between attachment style issues and boundary issues,” says Cari, “I can take care of myself in relationships and understand what I need. Learning about self-love causes you to turn inwards towards yourself in times of rejection and provide yourself with self-validation instead of outsourcing that validation externally. I know the pathway to walk; I feel like I have a map.”

With Sarah’s work mainly focusing on prevention and Cari’s work centring crisis intervention, these two come together to form a passionate team working to make positive impacts on the lives of MRU students, supporting them in innovative and creative ways semester after semester.

If this sounds like something that would benefit you, consider attending one of the upcoming Building the Love You Want workshops. Discover self-love and be supported along the way.

Upcoming workshop dates

Finding and Navigating your Attachment Style | January 19th, 1:00-2:30 p.m. | Register here | Online via Zoom

Having the Consensual Sex You Want | February 14th, 1:00-2:30 p.m. | Register here | Online via Zoom

Managing Breakups and Rejection | March 22nd, 1:00-2:30 p.m. | Register here | Online via Zoom

To register for any of the above upcoming workshop sessions, please use the Eventbrite links above.

Suggested resources

Video: Boundaries: Why You Need Them & How to Set Them by Dr. Nicole LePera, better known on Instagram as the @holisticpyschologist and leader of #Selfhealers. 

Book: Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find–and Keep– Love – by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller.