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Several elements come into play when we think of a healthy relationship. They include:

  • Mutual Respect - each person values who the other is as an individual and sees boundaries as  important

  • Trust - feeling safe to express ideas and opinions

  • Honesty - being truthful and up front about thoughts and feelings and activities with the  other

  • Support - giving each other the benefit of the doubt, help each other when the other isn’t at their best or is struggling

  • Fairness/Equality - each person shares work and equal value is given to activities

  • Independent Identities - each person is able to have an identity apart from the relationship

  • Good Communication - each person feels it is safe to express thoughts and feelings and is able to comfortably speak up when desired

In times of great stress, these elements sometimes can be hard to access due to the varying coping skills and strategies of each person, and the need for alone time and communication.


When our coping strategies are out of sync and we are under stress, partners can panic, enter a state of denial, or not realize the seriousness of the situation. None of these reactions are incorrect, but they reflect the personalities and past experiences of the person who is reacting. Learning to practice empathy for each other's different reactions and coping methods can help us to be more kind and patient in these situations, as opposed to allowing a disagreement to escalate.  Additionally, we can capitalize on our differences by allowing each person to take on a different role in the relationship. Being aware of our differences and allowing them with grace, instead of shaming language, can lead to a stronger and healthier relationship. Healthy coping strategies are important to maintain a healthy relationship. 



Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect.

Some of the signs include:

  • Possessiveness and wanting all of your attention

  • Isolation from family and other friends

  • Insults and always putting you down in front of others

  • Jealous accusations

  • Yelling or humiliation, interrupting while you speak

  • Pulling hair, pushing, slapping

  • Manipulation, guilting, sabotage

  • High volatility (emotional rollercoaster, feeling like walking on eggshells)

  • Intensity (getting serious very fast)

  • Deflecting responsibility and blaming

  • Betrayal of trust

Making sure each person in the relationship has some type of private space and alone time can be a very important way to ensure smoother encounters. Many people can find themselves on edge and unable to respond constructively if they feel trapped in too small of a space. Knowing when it is time to take a break and tell the other people you are with that you need to take some alone time is so important. Be intentional about taking that time, or it can potentiallylead to growing irritation. If space is limited, try to find a way to take a break outside where you can breathe in fresh air. Practice self-care by stretching your body, walking around the block, feeling the wind on your face and breathing deeply. Choose healthy foods, limit alcohol and drugs, and listen to your body when it needs rest. Get the amount of sleep that works best for you. In addition, trying to reach out to two outside people per day can alleviate some of the pressure you might be feeling or projecting onto your partner or other family members during this time of social isolation.


If you think your relationship is unhealthy, it’s important to think about your safety now. Consider coming up with some safety planning strategies whether you decide to leave or stay in the relationship. These could include things that help you stay safe in your everyday life, social life and in your online accounts. Detailed safety plans that are specific to college students can be here


  • Understand that a person can only change if they want to. You can’t force your partner to alter their behavior if they don’t believe they’re wrong.

  • Focus on your own needs. Are you taking care of yourself? Your wellness is always important. Watch your stress levels, take time to be with friends, get enough sleep. If you find that your relationship is draining you, consider ending it.

  • Connect with your support systems. Often, abusers try to isolate their partners. Talk to your friends, family members, teachers and others to make sure you’re getting the emotional support you need. Remember, our advocates are always ready to talk if you need a listening ear.

  • Think about breaking up. Remember that you deserve to feel safe and accepted in your relationship.

  • Even though you cannot change your partner, you can make changes in your own life to stay safe. Consider leaving your partner before the abuse gets worse.

If you're unsure whether you’re in a healthy relationship, this healthy relationships quiz can help you. 


Here are 5 quick tips for nurturing a healthy relationship:

  • Give time - put more time aside to connect with your friends, significant other, and family

  • Be present - this means really paying attention to the other people in your life and trying not to be distracted by your phone, work or other interests

  • Listen - really listen to what others are saying, try to understand it, and focus on their needs in that moment

  • Let yourself be listened to - honestly share how you are feeling, and allow yourself to be heard and supported by others 

  • Recognize unhealthy relationships - harmful relationships can make us unhappy. Recognizing this can help us to move forward and find solutions


Read more here for some great tips for some relationship experts:

If you feel unsafe in your relationship, get more information and help from the National Domestic Violence hotline.


For any victims and survivors who need support 24/7, call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you are unable to speak safely, you can visit or text LOVEIS to 22522.



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