Characteristics of Healthy Romantic Relationships

Does your romantic relationship exhibit these qualities?

  • caring: partners care for each other and profess that caring openly
  • friendship: partners are friends first and have fun together
  • acceptance: partners accept each other as they are
  • open communication: partners listen to each other and say what's on their minds
  • trust: partners trust each other and are trustworthy
  • equality: partners are equal in power and share decision-making
  • safety: partners respect each other's boundaries and resolve conflicts without violence
  • mutual support: partners support each other's goals and values

Warning Signs of Unhealthy Relationships

Watch for these warning signs in your partner:

  • Controlling behavior: Your partner insists on always knowing where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing; your partner tries to prevent you from seeing friends and family
  • Jealousy: Your partner flies into a rage any time you pay attention to someone else and accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Disrespect: Your partner is mean or rude to you
  • Violence: Your partner hits, slaps, shoves, kicks, punches, or otherwise physically abuses you
  • Alcohol & Drugs: Your partner abuses alcohol or drugs and pressures you to do so as well
  • Exploitation: Your partner makes you do things sexually that you are uncomfortable with
  • Secrecy: Your partner doesn't acknowledge you or your relationship openly

Watch for these warning signs in yourself:

  • You feel controlled, threatened, isolated, or put down by your partner
  • You always feel drained, anxious, or unsure of yourself around your partner
  • You argue about the same things again and again
  • You often have sex but rarely go out together
  • What you like most about the relationship is what your partner does for you (money, gifts, etc.)
  • You're so wrapped up in the relationship that you have no energy for your studies, hobbies, friends, or family
  • You would feel incomplete without a partner

If this describes your relationship, talk to a counselor for help.

Appropriate Sex

Appropriate sex is...

  • consensual: partners agree about what they do together
  • non-exploitative: partners have equal power, and neither pressures or forces the other
  • mutually pleasurable: both partners enjoy the experience
  • safe: low risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, or emotional pain
  • developmentally appropriate: suitable to the age and maturity of the persons involved
  • caring: partners have mutual expectations and affection for one another
  • respectful: partners value honesty and keeping commitments made to others
  • private: in your own space, not viewed or shared by others

Content on this page was adapted from Our Whole Lives, a comprehensive sex education curriculum.

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