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Healthy and unhealthy relationships

Healthy and unhealthy relationships

In a healthy relationship, the partners are able to:

  • express their feelings
  • respect each other’s boundaries – that includes respecting someone’s personal space, taking notice of their body language, accepting it when they say they don’t want to do something
  • trust each other
  • be honest with each other
  • feel equal 

In an unhealthy relationship, a partner may try to:

  • control the other person
  • put pressure on them
  • threaten them

It’s never okay for anyone to control, pressure or threaten you, even if they say they love you. 

To help keep your relationship healthy, make sure you spend time outside of the relationship doing positive things.

Here are some tips to help keep a relationship healthy: 

  • Keep up your own interests and friendships​.
  • Plan fun things to do with your partner but also without them. 
  • Allow yourself some breathing space, by taking time away from each other.​
  • ​Look after yourself first.
  • Don’t stop doing and enjoying things you love just to keep your partner happy.

Deciding whether or not to have sex is something each person has to do for themselves. 

In a healthy relationship, your partner will respect your decisions even when they don’t like them. 

It’s important in a relationship that you never feel pressured to have sex and you can communicate how you feel. ​

Here are some tips on how to help manage this in your relationship:

  • Be clear about how you feel​.
  • Check in with each other about how you are feeling – make sure no one is feeling pressured.
  • Notice anything your partner might say or do that makes you feel bad about not having sex. Tell them that it’s not okay to make you feel bad about it.
  • Contact friends or family for support.
  • Listen to what people you trust have to say – sometimes, people outside the relationship can see things about it that you can’t.
  • If someone won’t take no for an answer and keeps pressuring you (in words, by making you feel bad, or by using force), this is a sign that your relationship is unhealthy.

If you are thinking about whether you are ready for sex, remember: ​

  • You should feel comfortable with your decision​.
  • Be honest with yourself and your partner. If you’re not ready, that’s okay.
  • Talk with your partner about safe sex practices, like getting tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and finding out about types of contraception.
  • If something scares you or makes you feel uncomfortable, you can say no at any time. It’s okay to change your mind.
  • You should be able to talk openly and honestly about your fears, worries and feelings.

You have control over your body, and no one else has the right to tell you what to do with it.

If your partner tries to threaten or pressure you into having sex, that’s a sign of an unhealthy relationship. This is not okay, and you can get help.

No matter how long you’ve been with someone or how many times you’ve had sexual contact with them, you have the right to say no at any time, for any reason.​ 

You might find it helpful to take a look at our section on consent.

Enthusiastic consent

Find out what consent means, and how to make sure everyone involved in a sexual activity is giving their enthusiastic consent.

Read more

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