Healthy relationships can improve all aspects of your life.
They can strengthen your mental health and wellness, build connections, make life happier and more satisfying, and be one of the best supports in your life. But healthy relationships don’t always happen automatically. They take work and there can be ups and downs. All relationships are unique. If a relationship isn’t working, it can cause stress and strain. In this section we will look at what makes a healthy relationship, what are the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and when to reach out for help.
Communication. Honest, open and direct communication is a key ingredient in any healthy relationship. When we feel comfortable expressing ourselves the bonds of trust are strengthened. Even non-verbal cues like body language (eye contact, facial expression, leaning forward, etc.,) can communicate our interest. Listening attentively and using both our verbal and non-verbal cues respectfully are important. Keep personal interests alive. Having friends and other interests not only strengthen your social network, but they bring new insights to your relationship, too. Work through conflict. Conflict is inevitable, but when you are having a conflict with another person, the key is to feel safe so that you can express yourself honestly. Keep the connection alive. Some relationships can get stuck or feel like you are just going through the motions of coexistence without truly relating to one another or working together. Healthy relationships take work and mean relating to one another, being involved in each other’s lives and having a good understanding of who that individual is and what is important to them.
We all have experienced relationship difficulties. What makes a relationship unhealthy; however, is when the unhealthy actions outweigh the healthy ones. This might be hard to put into perspective but try reflecting on your own relationship through journaling. Take time to note the healthy and unhealthy aspects of your relationship when they occur. This may help you to better understand and see the big picture of your relationship.
Abusive relationships can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked or excused, especially when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. While physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, and can cause you to feel anxious, depressed, helpless, desperate and alone. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship are the first steps to ending it. There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. Other signs include if your partner belittles or tries to control you. If you feel like you have to constantly watch what you say in order to avoid a blow-up, chances are your relationship is unhealthy and/or abusive. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the above warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. Help is available. Visit the Find Support page to see a listing of services in your area.
It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but if you think someone you know is being abused, speak up! Hesitating or telling yourself it’s not your concern, may mean the difference between life or death. Express your concern by asking how your friend is and tell them you are there for them if they need you. Connect them with support by helping them reach out to trusted family members, friends and health care providers. Visit the Find Support page to see a listing of services in your area.
Sometimes problems in a relationship may seem too complex or overwhelming to handle on your own. Remember it’s not your fault and you are not alone. If you are in immediate danger call 911. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member or health care provider for support and to talk about your options.