Healthy relationships

A relationship should be a source of joy, support and friendship and should not cause anxiety, insecurity or isolation. This information will help you understand the foundations of healthy relationships and recognize the signs of an unhealthy one.

A healthy relationship

  • Emotional Responsibility - Each person is responsible for their happiness and sense of self-worth.
  • Mutual Respect - Each partner should respect the other in words and actions. Boundaries should be established and honored.
  • Trust - Trust creates a safe connection between partners where each is affirmed by the other. Partners who trust each other do not feel threatened by successes or joys but rather encourage the growth and success of their partner.
  • Honesty - Honesty goes hand-in-hand with trust. You should not have to lie or hide things from your partner in a healthy relationship.
  • Support - In a healthy relationship, your partner should provide a shoulder to cry on during tough times and celebrate with you during good times.
  • Equality - Relationships are about "give and take." One person should not be fighting to get their way all of the time.
  • Separate Identities - A healthy relationship allows each partner to take personal time, explore their interests and spend time with friends outside of the relationship.
  • Open Communication - Each partner should feel safe discussing their desires, expectations, needs and limits. Both partners should feel free to express themselves and talk through conflicts.

While healthy relationships are based on mutual respect, understanding, compassion and individuality, unhealthy relationships are usually based on power and control. Unhealthy relationships can be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship

If your partner has become emotionally or physically abusive, we encourage you to access the resources below. You do not have to go through this alone.

  • If you feel that you are in danger, call 911 immediately.
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.7233.



Even the healthiest of relationships will experience conflict at times. Conflict can strengthen a relationship as long as it is resolved constructively with respect for both partners. Differences of opinion can stir up many emotions, such as anger or hurt. These emotions are normal and should not become a problem if both partners communicate with respect.

Fighting fair

Bill of rights

Rights and responsibilities


One of the keys to having a healthy relationship is maintaining good communication. The following tips and guidelines should help facilitate positive communication between you and your partner.

  • Wait for the right time. If something is bothering you and you'd like to talk to your partner about it, make sure that you bring it up at an appropriate time. Wait to speak to your partner in person and when they are not doing anything important. Avoid interruptions by talking to your partner privately unless you do not feel safe. Try not to start a serious conversation with your partner when they are going to sleep or stressed about something else.
  • Watch your body language. Show your partner that you are listening and engaged by maintaining eye contact, sitting up straight and not answering your phone or texts. Don't cross your arms, sigh or roll your eyes.
  • Check your wording. Sometimes the way we frame a discussion can impact how people understand us. People immediately become defensive and less receptive when they believe that they're under attack. To avoid this sort of interaction, try using phrases that begin with "we" and "I" instead of "you." For example, instead of saying, "You have been distant with me," you may instead choose to say, "I feel as if we haven't been as close lately."
  • Take a moment. Step back and take a breather before you start the conversation. You might even want to wait a day or two to assess your feelings about the issue you wish to address.
  • Let it go once the conversation is over and the issue is resolved. Holding onto past wrongs can cause resentment and bitterness.

For more Information and tips on healthy communication in relationships, please visit

Content adapted from the following sources: Counseling & Mental Health Center at The University of Texas at Austin: Fighting Fair to Resolve Conflict McKay, M., Davis, M., & Fanning, P. (1983).; MESSAGES: The Communication Book. Oakland, CA: NewHarbinger Publications.; University of Florida Counseling & Wellness Center.