Romantic Relationships

What a healthy relationship looks like

Characteristics of a healthy relationship include: 

  • Respect each other
  • Trust each other
  •  Are honest with each other
  •  Communicate clearly with each other
  •  Willing to compromise/negotiate
  •  Support each other
  •  Enjoy spending time with each other
  •  Feel safe and comfortable with each other
  •  Maintain healthy lives and other relationships outside of this relationship (friends, family, activities, extracurriculars, identity, etc)      

What an unhealthy relationship looks like

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know whether your relationship is healthy or unhealthy. A relationship can be unhealthy in many ways, including emotionally, sexually, physically, and/or verbally. If you find that your relationship is unhealthy, you can work to improve the issue, or you can get out of the relationship.  No one deserves to feel disrespected, unsafe, or insecure in their relationship.

Some examples of characteristics of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Trying to control or manipulate the other person
  • Making the other person feel bad about her/himself
  • Ridicules, blames, or call names
  • Dictates how the other person dresses
  • Does not make time for each other
  • Criticizes the other person’s friends
  • Are afraid of the other person’s temper
  • Ignore each other when one is speaking
  • Are overly possessive or get jealous about ordinary behavior
  • Criticizes or supports others in criticizing some aspect of the other person
  • Controls the other person’s money or other resources (e.g., car)
  • Harm or threaten to harm family, pets, or objects of personal value
  • Push, grab, hit, punch, or throw objects
  • Use physical force or threatens to prevent the other person from leaving
  • Force the other to have sex when he/she doesn’t want to or is incapacitated, threatens the other person if he/she doesn’t

 If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship that is an danger to their safety, call RUPD immediately.

Dating Rights and Responsibilities

Dating is a two-way street. To build and maintain a healthy relationship, you and your partner have to ensure that you are considerate and respectful of each other’s rights in the relationship. A healthy relationship means working to maintain, and reciprocate, these essential elements of trust and respect.

 In a relationship, it is your responsibility to/your right to:

  • Listen/ be listened to
  • Be honest/ expect honesty
  • Respect /be respected for your differences in feelings, other relationships, opinions, activities, priorities, goals, and interests.
  • Allow disagreement/disagree
  • Respect your partner sexually/be respected sexually
  • Support your partner/be supported
  • Respect and consider your partner’s needs /expect your own needs for to be respected and considered
  • Be fair/expect to be treated fairly  

Communication tips

  • Don’t let something that bothers you build up. – If something little is consistently bothering you, let them know now so that you – or the situation -  doesn’t explode later on.
  • Set aside a time where both of you can talk – if something’s really bothering you, be aware of the other stressors and issues that might affect how well your conversation goes. For example, don’t bring it up out of nowhere, or as you or your partner is about to rush off somewhere, or, unless it’s incredibly urgent, during the middle of a very stressful week. Agree on a time and place where you both can sit down to discuss the issue and how to resolve it. Consider talking over a meal or a drink. 
  • Make it about “I,” not “you” – put things in terms of you and not your partner to avoid coming off as accusatory, which is potentially polarizing and detrimental to the progress of the conversation, even if you think it’s true. Instead, describe things in terms of how they make you feel, such as, “this makes me feel _____,” “I don’t know how to react when____,” “I think____, or “I understand/interpret this situation to mean _____.”
  • Listen - Try to really understand where your partner’s coming from. 
  • Be open to different opinions – realize that you’re not going to agree on everything, and that’s okay. 
  • Be honest and direct about your expectations – for instance, say if you like or dislike a distinct behaviour or attitude instead of vaguely generalizing or hinting at it. Your partner isn’t a mindreader.
  • Check in – part of maintaining anything is checking to see if it’s still working. So, check in regularly about how each other is feeling about the status quo of the relationship.   

When you have a conflict

Consider the following factors when you have a conflict:

  • Be respectfully direct and honest - Ask, or check to make sure, that you understand your partner’s opinion.
  • Compromise – situations, and people, change. Be willing to negotiate. Be cognizant of your, and your partner’s, and the relationship’s priorities in the situation.
  • Listen – actually listen, and try to see the situation from your partner’s perspective.
  • Realize that you don’t have to agree on everything  - and respect their right to have a different opinion. Acknowledge that you disagree, and move on or figure out a compromise. Don’t be so rigid in your relationship expectations that your criteria is absolute.  
  • Focus on the issue at hand – don’t bring up other things that bother you or past arguments, which only cloud the issue and may make it worse. 

Maintaining a healthy relationship

Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy relationship:

  •  Listen.
  • Set expectations for your relationship with your partner – and realize that, as your relationship develops, expectations may change. Always be respectfully direct and honest with them about what you want and expect out of the relationship, and do the same for them.
  • Notice small things  - appreciate them, complement them, say “thank you” when appropriate.
  • Say “I’m sorry” when you’re wrong 
  • Try new things together 
  • Don’t let little stuff build up 
  • Communicate – often, and clearly.
  • Figure out your relationship wants vs. needs – it’s a part of being realistic, while ensuring healthy relationship standards.
  • Reciprocate 
  • Be honest  
  • Keep up other friendships, relationships, activities, and important stuff in your life  
  • Address divergent family values and issues – if and before they become an issue. Accept differences, and consider whether or not some family-related factor is significant enough to affect your relationship with your partner. If it is, talk about it. If a family member is being particularly intrusive, figure out ways to get them to back off.
  • Realize that you can leave.     


“Relationship stuff.”Go Ask Alice.    

“Relationships.” Planned Parenthood. 
“How to Get Out of an Abuse Relationship.” The Safe      

“What is Emotional Abuse?”