Many people desire to be in a loving and healthy relationship in their lives. Everyone gets to decide what that looks like for them – whether it is long-term or short term, committed or not, monogamous or open, for example. The way each person defines the type of relationship they want can be based on many factors, including their cultural identity, sexual orientation, family background/upbringing, and relationship history, among others. Even though relationships can look very different, there are a few important qualities of healthy relationships in any context:
in a HEALTHY
RELATIONSHIP means …
you are in an
UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP …
|Loving and taking care of yourself, before and while in a relationship.
||You care for and focus on another person only and neglect yourself or you
focus only on yourself and neglect the other person.
|Respecting individuality, embracing differences, and allowing each person
to "be themselves."
||You feel pressure to change to meet the other person's standards, you are
afraid to disagree, and your ideas or criticized. Or, you pressure the other
person to meet your standards and criticize his/her ideas.
|Doing things with friends and family and having activities independent of
||One of you has to justify what you do, where you go, and who you see.
|Discussing things, allowing for differences of opinion, and compromising
||One of you makes all the decisions and controls everything without
listening to the other's input.
|Expressing and listening to each other's feelings, needs, and desires.
||One of you feels unheard and is unable to communicate what you want.
|Trusting and being honest with yourself and each other.
||You lie to each other and find yourself making excuses for the other
|Respecting each other's need for privacy.
||You don't have any personal space and have to share everything with the
|Sharing sexual histories and sexual health status with a partner.
||Your partner keeps his/her sexual history a secret or hides a sexually
transmitted infection from you or you do not disclose your history to your
|Practicing safer sex methods.
||You feel scared of asking your partner to use protection or s/he has refused
your requests for safer sex. Or, you refuse to use safer sex methods after
your partner has requested or you make your partner feel scared.
|Respecting sexual boundaries and being able to say no to sex.
||Your partner has forced you to have sex or you have had sex when you don't
really want to. Or, you have forced or coerced your partner to have sex.
|Resolving conflicts in a rational peaceful, and mutually agreed upon way.
||One or both of you yells and hits, shoves or throws things at the other in
|There is room for positive growth and you learn more about each other as
you develop and mature.
||You feel stifled, trapped, and stagnant. You are unable to escape the
pressures of the relationship.
In healthy relationships, power is shared equally among all partners. When no partner is trying to gain power and control over another, shared decision-making and a sense of safety is established. The way this looks in possible aspects of the relationship is represented in the different spokes of the wheel.
Red Flags of an Unhealthy Relationship
If you are concerned that you might be in an unhealthy relationship, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
Am I afraid of my partner’s temper?
Do conversations with my partner make me feel bad about myself?
Are interactions between my family and myself and friends flowing less freely now than before I met my partner?
Do I engage in sex acts with which I am not completely comfortable?
Does my partner force me to have sexual relations with him/her when I do not want to? And if so, am I afraid to talk to him/her about it
Does my partner accuse me of having affairs with others?
Does my partner keep track of where I go, whom I talk to, hang out with, what I wear, and what I say?
If I disagree with my partner about something, do I worry about a moody, threatening, and/or violent response?
If I told my partner that I wanted to end the relationship, what would be his/her response?
Does my partner call me names that make me feel bad about myself?
Resources at the Counseling Center
If you have any questions or concerns about whether your relationship is healthy, you can talk to a supportive, non-judgmental counselor at the counseling center. We offer individual counseling, as well as group counseling such as our Understanding Self and Others group which can help you identify and explore issues and patterns in your relationships. You can make an appointment by calling (765-285-1736) or coming in person to Lucina Hall 320.
Additional Online Resources