Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships


Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship

A healthy relationship is when two people develop a connection based on:  

  • Mutual respect
  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Support
  • Fairness/equality
  • Separate identities
  • Good communication
  • A sense of playfulness/fondness

A healthy relationship should bring more happiness than stress into your life. Every relationship will have stress at times, but you want to prevent prolonged mental stress on either member of the relationship. While in a healthy relationship you:  

  • Take care of yourself and have good self-esteem independent of your relationship.
  • Maintain and respect each other’s individuality.
  • Maintain relationships with friends and family.
  • Have activities apart from one another.
  • Are able to express yourselves to one another without fear of consequences.
  • Are able to feel secure and comfortable.
  • Allow and encourage other relationships.
  • Take interest in one another’s activities.
  • Do not worry about violence in the relationship.
  • Trust each other and be honest with each other.
  • Have the option of privacy.
  • Have respect for sexual boundaries.
  • Are honest about sexual activity if it is a sexual relationship.
  • Accept influence. Relationships are give and take; allowing your partner to influence you is important; this can be especially difficult for some men.
  • Resolve conflict fairly; Fighting is part of even healthy relationships; the difference is how the conflict is handled. Fighting fairly is an important skill that helps you have healthier relationships.  

Characteristics of an Unhealthy Relationship At times all relationships will have some of the below characteristics. However, unhealthy relationships will exhibit these characteristics more frequently and cause you stress and pressure that is hard to avoid. This tension is unhealthy for both members and may lead to problems in other areas of your life.    While in an unhealthy relationship you:  

  • Put one person before the other by neglecting yourself or your partner.
  • Feel pressure to change who you are for the other person.
  • Feel worried when you disagree with the other person.
  • Feel pressure to quit activities you usually/used to enjoy.
  • Pressure the other person into agreeing with you or changing to suit you better.
  • Notice one of you has to justify your actions (e.g. where you go, who you see).
  • Notice one partner feels obligated to have sex or has been forced.
  • Have a lack of privacy, and may be forced to share everything with the other person. 
  • You or your partner refuse to use safer sex methods.
  • Notice arguments are not settled fairly.
  • Experience yelling or physical violence during an argument.
  • Attempt to control or manipulate each other.
  • Notice your partner attempts to control how you dress and criticizes your behaviors.
  • Do not make time to spend with one another.
  • Have no common friends, or have a lack of respect for each others’ friends and family.
  • Notice an unequal control of resources (food, money, home, car, etc.).
  • Experience a lack of fairness and equality.

(Obtained from Hall Health Primary Care Center, 
University of Washington
)   For more information on red flags in a relationship, please visit the Red Flag Campaign website at

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