Healthy vs unhealthy relationships
A healthy relationship is when my partner
- Treats me as an equal
- Listens to me
- Makes me feel safe
- Trusts me
- Is happy for me when I enjoy time with family and friends
- Respects my opinions
- Respects my preferences
- Is truthful with me
- Tries to understand my point of view
- Accepts me as I am
- Supports my need for time alone
- Supports my choices
An unhealthy relationship is when my partner
- Makes me feel afraid
- Tries to control me
- Is jealous
- Regularly criticises me
- Makes me feel on edge
- Makes me feel blamed
- Loses their temper easily
- Complains about my family and friends
- Calls me names and threatens me
- Is always checking up on me
- Makes all the decisions
- Has hit me or almost hit me
- Shares or threatens to share intimate images or videos of me without my consent
Know your limits and communicate them
You should be able to talk to your partner about what you are and are not comfortable with. This is a sign of a healthy relationship. Some examples of boundaries could be:
- Needing time away from your partner
- Not being comfortable with public displays of affection
- Needing time away from your phone
- Not wanting to sext or send nudes
- Wanting to move slowly
If your partner tries to belittle your boundaries or needs, they aren’t showing you respect and trust. You should be able to talk to them about your needs without fear of what they will say or do.
Keep the lines of communication open
Express your feelings and talk about issues in the relationship. An unhealthy relationship is when your partner:
- Makes it hard for you to communicate
- Shuts down the conversation
- Refuses to listen to your concerns
- Blames you for how you are feeling
- Denies issues or problems that you know are true, this is called gaslighting
Set physical boundaries
Intimacy and sex can be a wonderful part of a relationship, but only if it’s what you want. Talk to your partner about what you’re comfortable doing and not doing. If they don’t respect your physical boundaries or pressure you into sex or sexual acts this a form of sexual abuse.
The age of consent in Ireland is 17. This means that someone aged under 17 is not legally old enough to consent to a sexual act, even if they want to. It is a crime to engage in a sexual act with someone who has not, or cannot, give consent.
Talk about consent
Consent is as important in a relationship as it is in a casual hook up. Just because you are seeing someone doesn’t mean that you owe your partner sex or that you don’t need to consent. If they pressure you into sex or sexual acts you cannot consent and this a form of sexual abuse. Thinks of FRIES. Consent could be:
- Freely given – You feel comfortable saying yes or no without pressure or manipulation
- Reversible – You can change your mind and take back your consent at any time
- Informed – You know exactly what you are consenting to
- Enthusiastic – Saying yes because you are excited to do something
- Specific – Saying yes to one thing doesn’t mean saying yes to everything
Go at your own pace
Relationships are exciting at the start. You shouldn’t feel under pressure early on to make the relationship serious or to say ‘I love you’. This is known as love bombing which is a red flag for abuse.
Should we break up?
If something feels wrong, it probably is. Take our relationship quiz to see if your relationship is healthy or unhealthy. Chat to us on our instant messaging support service for advice and support.
If you feel afraid to break up with your partner this is a red flag for abuse. Learn how to keep yourself safe if you are breaking up with an abusive partner.