What is a healthy or unhealthy relationship?
Ask yourself: “Is this relationship good for me?”
Have you ever been in a relationship with a friend or significant other (someone who is your boyfriend, girlfriend, friend with benefits, partner, etc.) that didn’t feel alright?
Our relationships can be fun, exciting, and rewarding, but sometimes they can become unhealthy. And you always deserve respect and to be safe. Our relationships can be tough to navigate, so YWCA Canada made you a Road Map to Healthier Relationships. And some places to get help if you’re in an unhealthy zone.
When we hear the word “relationship”, we often think of romantic relationships, but we also have relationships with our friends, family, teachers, coaches and co-workers. Relationships are a big part of your life so it’s important they‘re healthy ones!
What does it look and feel like when my relationships are healthy?
This answer changes depending on who you ask, but in general both of you…
- feel good about your relationship and don’t put each other down;
- have your own likes and dislikes alongside your similarities;
- can talk about your wants and needs in ways that do not hurt each other;
- have fun with each other and with other people, you don’t prevent each other from having other friends;
- are good to each other, not hurting one another purposefully, either physically or emotionally;
- feel comfortable and safe with each other;
- have fully and freely given consent to what is happening….
Wait – what is consent?
Giving “consent” is when you agree, by your own choice and not out of fear, pressure, or guilt, to participate in sexual activities like penetrative or oral sex, foreplay, and even kissing!
If someone does not give consent, for example they say “no”, or do not answer, or have taken drugs/drinking, if the sexual activities are continued it is assault which is a serious crime.
It is important to remember that even if you said YES in the beginning, you and the other person can say NO/STOP at any point.
Warning: major risk ahead
If you are in an unhealthy relationship, it could take a turn toward abuse. Abuse can happen multiple times in multiple ways, but a single incident of assault (an attack) is also considered abuse. However, abuse does not only mean physical violence:
- Sometimes you can see it – being hit, slapped or pushed around.
- But it can also leave no physical marks; abuse can be emotional, verbal and psychological, this includes but isn’t limited to, insulting someone, stalking or controlling them.
- Abuse includes making you or the other person feel scared or worthless.
- Abuse can include forcing someone into sexual behavior against their will.
Our romantic relationships and friendships start somewhere
Here are some safety tips for becoming involved in both!
- Be assertive in what you are and are not comfortable with. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Keep safe and meet in public places for the first few dates or double date! Restaurants, the movies, or a park, are all great date ideas. Stay safe, even if you already know this person through school or a friend.
- Let someone you trust know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Have a backup plan to get home: if you have a phone, make sure it is charged. Have your own money in case you need to take a bus or taxi (310-TAXI) quickly. Have a friend, parent or someone you trust on standby to pick you up. Or, consider using an app for a ride service that is attached to a bank or credit card.
- While we are not responsible for the actions of other, keeping our drinks in our hands and being aware of how much we are drinking are wise things to do.
- Use your smarts! If something doesn’t feel right, always trust your instincts.
A quiz on healthy relationships developed by YWCA Canada
Do the quiz to help you to see the signs of a healthy vs. unhealthy relationship so that you can know when to work on it or leave it.
Step one: remember that working through the bumpy parts of relationships may be hard and awkward, but it is part of taking care of yourself.
It’s important to remember that an unhealthy relationship can happen to people of any gender, race, age and sexual orientation.
Is your relathionship healthy?
Did you rarely fight and know you never agree? Did you feel loved and close with someone but now you fell alone or scared? Let’s go further.
Think of a relationship with a friend, parent, significant other, and ask if they…
(You can also download this quiz
Is our relationship healthy? in pdf)
Some of the items above are unhealthy behaviors, but some are against the law.
Relationships generally start as healthy and can shift into something else. While it can be hard to think of or come to admit that someone you care about is not treating you with respect, you always deserve respect from the people around you.When you are being hurt in a relationship it is time to leave, even if a bad situation happened only one time. And it is okay, to not go back.
You asked the questions, now which road are you on?
You feel positively about your answers to the questions
Healthy relationship! Both of you are putting time and effort into it. You are a team.
You feel uncertain about your answers
Potentially in an unhealthy relationship zone. You may not be okay with the answers. Your next step is reaching out for help or more information. You are not alone in this.
If you are in an unhealthy/abusive relationship, you can still be having fun and feel happy sometimes. Imagine a roller coaster; ultimate highs followed by equally intense lows often happening in a repeating cycle.
The other person’s words and actions are not your fault. Their words and actions are their responsibility and choice. They are most probably not showing everyone this harmful side of their personality, you are the one experiencing the behavior. You experience is valid.
What help can look like
For more information about why we put together this resource: weekwithoutviolence.ca
To learn about your rights: ywcarightsguide.ca
If you need to talk to someone about things going on in your life you can call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or visit kidshelpphone.ca.
For mental health help check out: ementalhealth.ca
If you are thinking about suicide, please go to suicideprevention.ca, to find out who call in your area.
If you are thinking about running away or already have, you can contact operationcomehome.ca to learn more about what to do next.
For LBGTQ services contact 1-888-530-6777 or the website pflagcanada.ca.
For trans folks you can also use the hotline and website: (877) 330-6366 and translifeline.org.
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (170 languages, 24/7) 1-800-4ACHILD or 1-800-422-4453
If you need a safer place to stay, visit sheltersafe.ca for a shelter near you.
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights: actioncanadashr.org