Healthy vs. Unhealthy Dating Relationships

Regardless of your age, gender, or your sexual preference, it’s important to be able to recognize the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship. Even if you’re dating.

When you first meet someone, the signs that this will eventually become an unhealthy relationship aren’t always clear. But after a short while, problem behaviors and actions may become more obvious and need to be taken seriously.

You may be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, if your partner:
1. Is jealous or possessive of you – this can look like too many texts or phone calls asking where you are and who you’re with
2. Tells you what or what not to wear, who you can or can’t talk to, where you can or can’t go
3. Is violent, gets in fights, loses his/her temper a lot
4. Pressures you to have sex, or to do something sexual that you don’t want to do
5. Uses drugs and/or alcohol and tries to pressure you into doing the same
6. Physically or verbally hurts you
7. Blames you for his or her problems
8. Tells you that it’s your fault that he or she hurt you
9. Insults and embarrasses you in front of others
10. Makes you afraid of their reactions to things

While these exact signs may not show up on the first date, pay attention to your “uh-oh” feelings. Your gut instincts are generally right. If someone you’re dating is abusing alcohol or calling you names after only a few dates, these are red flags that you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

Pay attention to these 5 signs of a healthy or unhealthy relationship:

Healthy: Mutual respect. Respect in a relationship means that you both value and accept who each other is and your boundaries.

Unhealthy: Verbal, emotional or physical abuse. This includes physical injury from hitting, kicking, punching or pushing, or using verbal threats, putting someone down verbally, putting your partner in a dangerous situation, etc.


Healthy: Trust and honesty. It’s okay to be a little jealous at times – jealousy is a natural emotion. But how a person reacts when they feel jealous is what matters. Communicating openly, being honest with one another and showing each other trust are all part of a healthy relationship.

Unhealthy: Distrust. Even when you are truthful and honest, your partner doesn’t believe you and may use this mistrust to continue the cycle of abuse. While jealousy is a natural emotion, in an unhealthy relationship, this often leads to a controlling partner who wants to know where you are and who you’re with at all times.


Healthy: Good communication. You should be able to speak honestly and openly with one another – this is the easiest way to avoid miscommunication.

Unhealthy: Low self-esteem. You’re told you’re not good enough, or that it’s your fault your partner is abusive and hurts you. You become fearful of their reaction to anything you do or say and you’re often set up so that your partner can continue the cycle of abuse.


Healthy: Equality. Relationships are about giving and taking, if one person is only giving or taking, a relationship can turn sour quickly. Both people in the relationship make decisions to avoid power struggles.

Unhealthy: Possessiveness. Much like jealousy, possessiveness is about control. If your partner is possessive you may feel alone and isolated from friends, family and others.


Healthy: Separate identities. It’s common to take on your partner’s interests, choice of music or movies, etc., but a healthy relationship is about compromise. If he picks where you go tonight, you get to pick tomorrow, etc.

Unhealthy: Losing You in the relationship. You shouldn’t have to change who you are, stop seeing your friends or family, change what you like, etc. for someone else.


It may be difficult to leave someone who needs help. But it is not healthy to stay in a relationship that involves abusive behavior of any kind.

Remember, You deserve a healthy relationship that makes you happy. If you need help getting out of an unhealthy relationship, use the resource locator to find support groups, shelters and more.

Photo: B.Rosen

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