Whether romantic, friendly or familial, healthy relationships are mutually supportive and beneficial to the individuals that are a part of them. An individual in a healthy relationship has self-respect, and she or he honors the strengths in the relationship, acknowledges weaknesses in it, and is open and direct in her/his communication.
Recognizing an unhealthy relationship
It is important to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Some core signs of a healthy relationship include:
- Mutual respect
- Open and direct communication, without fear of manipulation or reprisal
- Emotional intimacy
- Feeling supported and supporting of the other
- Feelings of security and comfort
- Equal power
- Being able to have your own life apart from each other
- Conflict is resolved respectfully
- Many basic values are shared
- A significant degree of trust and honesty
- Commitment to a healthy relationship.
Healthy relationships are not perfect, but these are the kind of relationships that can weather both ups and downs.
If a relationship is less than healthy, steps can be taken to improve it or end it. Friends, family, and counselors can play a useful and supportive role when identifying an unhealthy relationship.
How do I help a friend in an unhealthy relationship?
- Tell your friend directly that you believe that s/he is in an unhealthy relationship
- Give specific and concrete examples of why you believe the relationship is unhealthy
- Tell your friend that s/he deserves better than to be in this relationship
- Tell your friend you will support him/her in getting out of this relationship
- Suggest counseling
The Women’s Center provides individual counseling and offers firesides on healthy relationships.