Threads recently caught up with Relate co-author Julie Hunt, assistant professor of social work at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, about the new study and, specifically, its implications for college students.
Threads: How has your experience as a college professor influenced the writing of Relate?
Julie Hunt: Being with college students every day gives me a glimpse into this age group and the challenges and benefits of friendship and relationships in this era. I appreciate that students want honesty and authenticity in my interactions with them and that they are typically strong critical thinkers. Therefore, I wanted to approach the study boldly, without any fluff, and leaving room for their personal analysis.
Threads: What do you see as the greatest relationship struggle for college students?
JH: I would say developing deep, vulnerable, real-life relationships. There is so much “virtual” contact that it gives the illusion of intimacy with people. Students may THINK they are connected with friends because they read someone’s status on Facebook, though they maybe haven’t had a real heart-to-heart with that person in months. And another barrier is that the things that we portray through social media are often carefully selected and posed, rather than vulnerable, deep, and authentic. Don’t get me wrong, I think there are great benefits to keeping in touch with people through these technologies. I just think they have limitations and are often used as a substitute for “real connection.”
Threads: What relationship would you consider to be the most important for a college student?
JH: That’s a hard question. I think it depends on the person and where they’re coming from—it might be a friend, roommate, mentor, RA, campus minister, etc. I think, regardless of the role, all students needs pure, unconditional, supportive, honest, loving, and godly people in their lives.
Threads: Is there anything you learned in the process of writing Relate that you wish you had known when you were in college?
JH: Well, I think the things I have written in Relate come from what I’ve learned in my life during the past 15 years since college. The things that I know now that I wish I knew then probably are aspects of healthy relationships, boundaries, and expectations that I had to learn the hard way—through trial and error.
Threads: How has your background in social work influenced the way you view relationships?
JH: Hugely. I’ve learned so much about people, our needs, barriers to communication, and healthy ways of relating to each other. I’ve learned the importance of boundaries, honesty and openness, and expectations. I’ve learned about family dynamics, equality, honor, and the hard work and great reward of intentional and healthy relationships.
Relate: Knowing, loving, and forgiving the people in your life is now available at threadsmedia.com/relate, by calling 1.800.458.2772, or at the Lifeway Christian Store near you.