The Healthy Relationships Team (HEART) believes everyone deserves love, friendship, and family without fear, control, or violence. That is why we provide education and support services to our campus community.
What makes a healthy relationship?
Whether you are in a relationship now or will be in the future, it is important to know what to be looking for in a romantic or sexual partner. Healthy relationships are based on equality and respect. Both people make decisions together and can openly discuss whatever they are dealing with, like relationship problems and sexual choices. You enjoy spending time together but can be happy apart. 1
The following list includes the key ingredients for a healthy relationship. While the behaviors will look different for each kind of relationship you have, these standards can apply to friendships and family relationships as well.
You talk openly about your problems and listen to one another. You respect each other’s opinions.
You value each other’s feelings and needs, and you compromise when you disagree. You speak kindly to and about each other. You give one another the freedom to be yourself and to be loved for who you are.
You enjoy spending time with each other, and you spend time apart. You respect each other’s need for space and support each other’s interests, hobbies, careers, etc. You do not feel pressured by your partner to do anything you are not yet ready for.
Shared Decision Making
You make decisions together and hold each other to the same standard. You both feel comfortable with the financial balance in the relationship. If you have kids together, you each have equal weight in parenting decisions.
You believe what your partner has to say. You do not feel the need to “prove” your trustworthiness. You are honest with each other, but can still keep some things private.
You show affection toward one another in a way that feels good for both of you. If you are sexually active, both partners check to make sure you are in agreement about the sexual activity you engage in. You can safely discuss what you are and are not comfortable with your partner. 2, 3
Read this handout on healthy relationships
Relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, with unhealthy somewhere in the middle. If communication, respect, boundaries, shared decision making, trust, and/or consent is lacking from your relationship, this may be a sign that your relationship is not healthy for you. Unhealthy relationships are often based on a dynamic where one person attempts to control the other person. 1
Watch out for these warning signs:
- Breaks in communicaton: When problems arise, you fight or don’t discuss them at all.
- Disrespect: One or both partners is not considerate of the other.
- Ignoring a partner's boundaries: Your partner’s community is the only one you socialize in. One person is pressuring the other to do things they are not ready for or do not want to do at all, such as saying I love you or sharing passwords.
- Trying to take control: It is assumed only one partner is responsible for making informed decisions, or that one partner’s desires and choices are more important. Finances, child care, or household responsibilities are not discussed, or it is assumed only one partner is in charge of them.
- Mistrust and jealousy: One or both partners tell lies, do not believe what the other says, or feel entitled to invade their privacy.
- Pressuring a partner into sexual activity: One partner uses pressure or guilt on the other to have sex or do anything sexual at any point. 2
The following resources will help you determine if your relationship is unhealthy, abusive, or violent.
Read more about The Relationship Spectrum at Love Is Respect and The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Read more about relationship violence
You are not alone
You have the right to learn and work in an environment free of intimidation, harassment, or violence of any kind. If you or someone you know has been mistreated, there are people who can help you.
You have the choice to speak with someone confidentially on campus, to report the incident to the college, or to seek services in the community. Wherever you choose to seek help first, there is a team of dedicated people who will make sure you receive all the services that you need and want.
Read more about how to get help
1. Love Is Respect. (2016). The Relationship Spectrum. Retrieved from www.loveisrespect.org/spectrum/relationship-spectrum.pdf.
2. The National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2017). Relationship Spectrum. Retrieved from www.thehotline.org/healthy-relationships/relationship-spectrum/.
3. Love Is Respect. (2017). What Is Respect in a Healthy Relationship? Retrieved from www.loveisrespect.org/content/respect-in-healthy-relationships/.