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Healthy vs. Unhealthy Friendships and Relationships

What are healthy friendships and relationships?

Learn how to recognize the signs of healthy - and unhealthy - relationships. This will allow you to help the people you support find and sustain their own healthy relationships. Healthy friendships and relationships depend on communication, sharing, respect and trust.

Communication and Sharing

The most important part of any healthy friendship or relationship is the ability to talk and listen to one another. Talking and listening helps people to:

  • Share their common interests
  • Share their feelings
  • Learn to listen
  • Know they are an important part of someone else’s life.

Respect and Trust

Healthy friendships and relationships also mean learning to respect and trust each other.

  • People respect each other for who they are.
  • People may disagree with each other. But with respect and trust, they can talk about how they feel and work things out.
  • People also should respect and trust themselves and their feelings so they can set boundaries and feel comfortable.

How does a person know that they have a healthy friendship with someone else?

Here are some signs that a person can use to know if they have an unhealthy friendship.

Being In a Healthy Friendship Means:   Being In a Unhealthy Friendship Means:
The person feels good about themselves when they are with their friend The person doesn’t feel good: their feelings are hurt or they feel sad or upset around their friend
There’s an equal amount of “give and take” between the person and their friend The person and their friend only talk about the friend
The person feels safe around their friend The person is uncomfortable with what their friend says and does
The person trusts and respects  their friend The person’s privacy is not respected
The person wants to spend time with their friend The person feels like they have to spend time with their friend
The person can be themselves around their friend The person acts differently around their friend
The person goes to places and does things both people like with their friend The person only goes to places the friend wants to go

How do you know that someone you support is in a healthy relationship with someone else?

There are also signs that you can use to tell that someone you support is in an unhealthy relationship.

Being in a Healthy Relationship Means: Being in an Unhealthy Relationship Means:
The person takes care of themselves as well as the other person They focus only on caring for the other person, or, They only focus on themselves and ignore the other person
The person still does things with other friends, family or on their own They have to explain what they do, where they go, and who they see
The person shares in decisions with their partner One of them makes all the decisions
The person and their partner respect each other's need for privacy The person doesn’t have any private space and has to share everything with the other person
The person and their partner share histories and life stories with their partner Their partner hides a problem from the person, or vice versa
The person and their partner treat each other with love and respect The person or their partner uses verbal, physical, or sexual violence
The person and their partner talk through problems or get help if they can’t work things out One or both of the people yell, hit, shove or throw things

What should you do about an unhealthy friendship or relationship?

Unhealthy friendships and relationships create many problems. They don’t get better by themselves. A really bad relationship can make someone feel mentally or physically ill.

If someone you support is in an unhealthy friendship or relationship, you can help.

  • Listen carefully when the person talks.
  • Do not judge the person – remember everyone makes mistakes and we can all learn from them.
  • Offer factual information.
  • Do not give unsupported advice.
  • Suggest they talk to a friend, pastor, counselor or someone they trust.
  • Tell the person about abuse. Explain what abuse is and how they can avoid being abused. Tell them that you are required by law to get help if you think they are being abused.
Last updated on Wed, 07/02/2014 - 16:53