Characteristics of a healthy relationship

Open and respectful communication.
In a healthy relationship each partner:

  • feels safe and supported when sharing thoughts, ideas and experiences.
  • listen to offer support and feedback.
  • feels free to keep thoughts or feelings private until she or he wants to discuss them
  • can respectfully disagree and resolve conflict without physical, sexual or emotional violence.

Mutual trust. 
In healthy relationships each partners trusts the other. Trust includes:

  • being honest, dependable, supportive and accountable.
  • not requiring someone to constantly prove her or his loyalty
  • discussing a suspicion of broken trust with open and respectful communication

Connections with other people and interests outside of the relationship.
In a healthy relationship each partner:

  • maintains friendships and family relationships outside of the relationship.
  • encourages her/his partner to pursue activities or goals beyond the relationship
  • understands it is unreasonable to expect a partner to provide all of the emotional support someone could want or need.

Boundaries and balance within the relationship. 
In healthy relationships each partner respects the other’s individual values, wishes and needs. This includes:

  • respecting your partner’s schedule, school work, sexual boundaries, spiritual practice (or non-practice) and other aspects of her or his life.
  • dedicating time to the relationship while also fulfilling other responsibilities.
  • respecting each other’s privacy and autonomy.

In healthy relationships each partner has equal importance. This means:

  • neither partner is forced into a stereotypical gender role.
  • both partners share decision-making power – neither is subservient to the other. 
  • both partners support each other having relationships and interests outside of the relationship.

Safety and Support. 
Healthy relationships make each partner feel safe and supported. This includes:

  • encouraging each others’ individual goals and desires are encouraged. 
  • approaching each other peacefully, during conflict.
  • Obtaining effective sexual consent before engaging in any sexual behavior

People in a healthy relationship may decide, for any number of reasons, to end the relationship.

  • each partner is free to end the relationship at any time for any reason.
  • each partner should be free to adjust the terms of the relationship in respectful, open and honest ways.
  • neither partner threatens the other with ending the relationship in order to gain power or control.

Characteristics of an Unhealthy Relationship

Verbal Abuse.
Unhealthy relationships usually include one partner verbally abusing the other partner. This might include:

  • frequent insults, name calling, cruel language or making fun of a partner
  • sexually demeaning or humiliating language
  • saying he or she is “just kidding” or you are “too sensitive” to deflect from verbal abuse.

Monitoring or other controlling behavior. 
Unhealthy relationships often include poor boundaries and a lack of freedom. A partner is demonstrating monitoring or controlling behavior when he or she is:

  • frequently calling or texting to “check up” or “check in.”
  • frequently showing up when uninvited or at unexpected times.
  • having frequent negative or aggressive reactions to a change in schedule or activities.
  • has to approve of another partner’s friends or activities.
  • becomes angry, resentful, aggressive or cruel when his/her partner does something without him/her.

Demanding that you think, act or speak in specific ways without respecting your perspective. 
In an unhealthy relationship a partner might try to control the other partner’s:

  • beliefs (religious, political, social, etc.).
  • thoughts.
  • speech (including what someone is or is not allowed to say).
  • clothing or appearance.
  • actions (including where to go, what you are allowed to do, etc.)

Isolating you from friends, caregivers, family or other people. 
It is unacceptable for one partner to control the other’s relationships. Signs of isolating behavior include:

  • demanding all of someone’s time.
  • convincing someone not spend time with others (this may happen gradually).
  • claiming to be the only person who cares about/loves or can help the partner
  • punishing a partner for contact with people outside the relationship.

Any physical aggression/abuse. 
Pushing, grabbing, biting, hitting, throwing objects or other forms of physical abuse are NEVER acceptable relationship behaviors. Throwing, hitting or breaking things near you, threats of violence, and threats of self-harm or other aggressive behaviors are also unacceptable.

Any unwanted sexual contact or activity.
Forcing unwanted sexual activity on someone is NEVER acceptable. Unwanted sexual activity can include

  • refusing to have safer sex
  • pressuring someone for specific sex acts that make that person uncomfortable
  • demanding sex or claiming that someone “owes” someone else sex
  • expecting a partner to submit to sexual expectations even when he/she says no

If you think your relationship may be unhealthy, please contact the Coordinators for Violence Response at 336-278-5009 Monday through Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm or the 24/7 Safeline at 336-278-3333. Speaking with them is always confidential. Any choice you make to seek help from the resources or options they provide is completely up to you!