Healthy Relationships 101

What is a relationship?

A relationship is a connection we share with others. Our relationships can include friends, family, classmates, teammates, co-workers, and more. We even experience a relationship with ourselves- some would argue that this is the most important relationship of all, since our self-esteem can influence the way we treat others.

Relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive and everywhere in-between.

Relationship Spectrum

Teen Dating Relationships

Dating. So much emotion in that one little word and action: What emotions do you feel when you think about "dating"?
Dating relationships can be so much fun! But no relationship is perfect, and things are not always rainbows and butterflies.

It's hard to know if any negative experiences with your partner are just normal bumps in the dating road, or if they are behaviors that could be considered unhealthy or abusive.
Knowing how to recognize healthy vs. unhealthy dating behaviors can help guide you in relationships throughout your life.

Characteristics of Healthy Dating Relationships


You value your partner and their ideas and respect their boundaries. Your partner values you and your ideas and is respectful of your boundaries.

You trust your partner and are trustworthy for your partner.


You are open and honest with each other. Remember, there cannot be trust or respect where there is no honesty.

Good communication involves talking and listening. It is important that you and your partner are open and honest when speaking to one another, and do so in a respectful way. Really listening and seeking to understand each other is just as important, if not more so.

You and your partner will not always think the same way about everything. It is important to look at things from your partner's point of view, and be willing to give and take.

Remember that you are two unique, individual people sharing in a relationship together. Respect your partner's autonomy by encouraging them to go hang out with friends, even if you can't go and encouraging them to enjoy their own hobbies and activities.

Having respect and confidence in who you are as an individual is a vital part of having a healthy relationship. The love you have for yourself will be evident in the way you treat your partner, and the way you expect your partner to treat you.

Characteristics of Unhealthy Dating Relationships

It is important to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship early so you can get out of the relationship before it escalates. If you ever feel unsafe in leaving a relationship, seek help immediately.

Your partner tries to control your actions and attempts to isolate you from family and friends. They also try to control the relationship by making all of the decisions. Some partners are very good at manipulating you into thinking these are your own ideas and suggestions.

Your partner lies to keep things from you. It is also considered dishonest if your partner steals from you.


Your partner makes fun of your ideas or thoughts. They might also destroy somethin.

Your partner makes claims such as they cannot live without you, you are their everything, etc, or they behave like their entire identity is tied to you and/or the relationship. While this may seem flattering, it is actually very unhealthy. This behavior becomes abusive when your partner says they will hurt, or kill themselves if you ever leave or break up with them.

Any form of physical violence such as hitting, shoving, slapping, hair pulling, choking, etc., or threat of physical violence, is abusive and has no place in a healthy relationship.

Pressure, coercion, or force to perform sexual acts you are not comfortable with, and do not consent to- even if you have done them before, or gave consent on a previous occasion- is considered sexual violence and abusive.
If you recognize any unhealthy or abusive characteristics in your relationship, yourself and/or your partner, consider these resources for help, support, and healing.
Teen Dating Violence (TDV) and how to recognize it
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