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What makes a healthy intimate relationship?

  • Equality

Relationships where there is equality are the safest. This means both people in the relationship feel that they can speak about their experiences or speak their minds without feeling worried or scared or criticised. There is a sense of general fairness about how decisions get made and the compromises are pretty even.

  • Mutual Respect

Respect in a relationship means that each person values who the other is and understands the person's boundaries. It also means respecting you girlfriend or boyfriend's opinion even if it is different from yours.

  • Trust

It's okay to get a bit jealous sometimes. Jealousy is a normal feeling and it's important to be aware of and acknowledge jealousy when you feel it. Acting on jealousy by trying to control who your partner talks to or sees however is not okay. Accepting that your girlfriend or boyfriend wants to spend time alone or with friends is an important part of trust. Trust also means that you are confident that your partner can behave in a pretty consistent respectful way.

  • Good communication

Good communication is about talking and listening, and listening and talking. Important aspects of good communication are insight (knowing yourself and being able to understand others) is and empathy (being able to understand another person's feelings) . It is important to try and talk about experiences that you feel uncomfortable about, rather than bottle it up or explode in anger. Sometimes you have to take a risk, feel a little bit vulnerable to speak your mind. An easy way to do it is to remember the "I feel...........about............. and what I Need is...........” rule.

  • Separate identities

Remember that you and your partner can still be yourselves whilst being together. There are some compromises that people will make for their partner, but you shouldn't feel that you're always the one making the compromises or that you're struggling to be yourself.

Don't attempt to control or change someone. This doesn't mean that you don't express your feelings or don't try influence each other. However, you might do this in a soft start up way, without criticism.

It is important to talk early about your boundaries and limits and what feels comfortable for you.

  • Support and having fun

Have fun and support each other, through both hard times and good times. Support your girlfriend to boyfriend to pursue their interests.

Warning signs

Relationships are not healthy when they

  • are based on power and control.
  • are filled with aggression, verbal insults.
  • involve constant jealous accusations.
  • have one person being controlling and overly demanding
  • involve humiliation
  • make one or both partners feel anxious or terrified of being apart from each other
  • are isolating and cut someone off from friends, family and usual activities
  • mean you never doing what you really want to do
  • cause you to watch what you do and say all of the time
  • make you scared or worried to say what you think. 
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