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What is a Healthy Relationship?

Studies show that people who have healthy relationships are happier and have less stress.

Healthy relationships encourage individuality and freedom, and provide room for personal growth. Every relationship is different, but there are a few characteristics that make healthy relationships possible. 

Mutual respect

  • You can say “no” without feeling guilty about it.
  • Your partner does not try to change or control you when you disagree.
  • You and your partner acknowledge how great the other person is.
  • Mistakes are accepted and learned from.
  • Boundaries are respected and your partner listens to you.

Support

  • You and your partner are there for each other to celebrate when things are going well and to help when things are not going well.

Trust/honesty

  • You trust each other. You feel trust and you have reason to trust. You each work hard to be trustworthy for the other.
  • You feel safe and comfortable with each other.
  • There is a willingness to take risks and be vulnerable.
  • You and your partner are honest with each other.

Good communication

  • Communication is open and spontaneous. You listen to each other and feel that you are heard. You make decisions together.
  • You can express your feelings without fear of your partner’s reactions.
  • Feelings and needs are expressed, appreciated, and respected by both.
  • Conflict is faced directly and resolved with win-win outcomes.
  • Rules and boundaries are clear and defined, yet allow for flexibility if you desire change. Both of you feel free to express your needs.

Separate identities

  • You can be together as a couple without losing your sense of self. Each person feels self-confident and secure in his/her own worth.
  • Personal growth, change, and exploration are encouraged for each and by each partner.
  • Each person can enjoy being alone and requests for privacy are respected.

Fairness/equality

  • Partners are fair when they work things out.
  • Tolerance — forgiveness of self and others — is present.
  • You each take responsibility for your own behaviors and happiness. One doesn’t blame the other for feelings or things that happen.
  • You are able to let go of the need to “be right.”
  • There is a balance of giving and receiving in your relationship. Equality is both affirmed and celebrated.

Not every unhealthy relationship is abusive. Regardless, it is important for both people in the relationship to recognize that any violence is unacceptable. 

Information compiled from: Sojourner House’s Healthy Dating Relationships Resource Guide and SEALS II: Self-esteem and Life Skills, Too by Kathy L Korh-Khalsa, Estelle A. Leutenberg and Stacy D. Azok (Wellness Reproductions. Inc. 1996)