You are here

What is a Healthy Relationship?

Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship

  • Respect: You feel as though your partner respects your thoughts and feelings. You can disagree without being insulted or dismissed.
  • Trust: You and your partner trust each other. You feel comfortable spending time away from each other without worrying about what your partner might be doing.
  • Honesty: You and your partner do not lie to each other. You are open with each other about your feelings. You can talk about problems you have with the relationship.
  • Support: You and your partner are “there for each other” during difficult times. You listen and console each other.
  • Fairness/Equality: There are no power differentials in the relationship. Each person in the relationship is held to the same standards.
  • Identities: Both people maintain separate identities outside the relationship. Each person has support systems outside the relationship (friends, family, etc.)
  • Communication: Each person in the relationship feels comfortable honestly discussing his or her thoughts and feelings about the relationship. There is comfort with assertively expressing one’s needs.

Communication Tips for a Healthy Relationship

Starting with the first day you meet, be clear about what you want and do not want. Say:

I’m not really comfortable with sexting. Let’s do [fill in the blank] instead.

I’m too busy to respond to messages right away. All my friends know I respond when I can.

You don’t like this shirt? Too bad, I think it’s fabulous and you’ll have to see me in it all day {wink}.

Stick to what you’ve said, even if you feel guilty or if it upsets the other person. Doing so allows you to determine who likes you for YOU. If they can’t accept what you’ve said, you may want to reconsider how close you can be to that person.  Say:

 Look, I really like you, but I feel like we have different ideas about how things should be in a relationship. I think we should just be friends.

If a pattern of interaction with a partner is already making you feel uncomfortable, address it as soon as possible and make an agreement about how you will both behave in the future. Say:

I feel frustrated when you get upset that you don’t know where I am or what I’m doing. I need to have time with my friends without worrying you’ll be upset afterwards. I want you to trust me enough to give me space and do things on my own. Can we agree to that?

Yesterday when we argued I felt really hurt when you called me names.  I’m not comfortable being in a relationship where this happens. Can we agree to be respectful no matter what?

  • If you’re having trouble communicating in your relationship, staff in the Counseling Center can help. Call 781.891.2274 to meet with someone once or a few times.
  • If you feel a relationship may not be healthy for you, then trust your feelings. Talk to someone you trust, or check out these resources. You don’t have to figure this out alone.
  • If you feel threatened or unsafe, do not hesitate to call University Police at 781.891.3131.