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Healthy Relationships

Get Educated!

Healthy relationships are based on trust, honesty, and compromise.  Sounds simple, right?  But between "I just called to say hi," and "Why aren't you texting  me back?" are a lot of shades of gray.  So how can you be make sure that your relationship stays healthy?

What Makes a Relationship Healthy?+

Equality is key.  People in healthy relationships respect each other; they talk honestly and freely, and share decisions.  They trust and support each other and respect the other's independence.  There is a balance of equality between the two people so that no one person is "in charge" or "in control" of the other person.

An unhealthy relationship is unbalanced.  One person may try to control or manipulate the other person to get his/her way.  They do this by using verbal insults, mean language, nasty putdowns, or even resort to physical or sexual violence.happycouple

Dating violence isn't an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day.  That happens in even the healthiest of relationships.  Dating violence is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against a significant other.

Dating violence can include physical or sexual violence, but it isn't limited to just that.  It can include verbal and emotional abuse, like constant insults, isolation from family and friends, intimidation or threats, name calling, controlling what someone wears or does.

+ Adapted from the Center for Disease Control: Choose Respect program.

Focus on Equality+

So, if equality is key in a healthy relationship, what sort of elements play into that equality?  It all comes down to The Equality Wheel.

The Equality Wheel shows the different dynamics of a healthy relationship and can be applied to all of your relationships, from friends to intimate partners to family members.  Each piece of the wheel supports and reinforces the others - all of the pieces are needed to complete the wheel.  The center of the wheel, the piece that holds it all together, is Equality.   The spokes are Trust, Support, Respect, Responsibility, Communication, Boundaries, Honesty, and Accountability.   On the outside of the wheel, is Non-Violence - there is no place for violence (emotional, physical, or sexual) in a healthy relationship.

Check out the Equality Wheel and What Each Piece Means. 

+ Adapted from William and Mary Sexual Assault Resources and Education.  

Where Is Your Line?

Whenever you engage in a relationship, you need to know where your boundaries are - physically, emotionally, and sexually.  If you know your boundaries, then you can communicate them with your partner and be comfortable and happy in the relationship, knowing you won't be pushed too far too fast.

Check out The Line Campaign.

Defining Boundaries

There are three primary types of boundaries you may encounter in a relationship: physical, emotional, and sexual.  Let's take a look at the definition of each of these and what it might look like if they're crossed.

  • Physical Boundaries are how much you like to be physically close to or in contact with another person. For example, you may like to hold hands, but aren't a big fan of other public displays of affection. This boundary could be crossed if your partner continually tries to kiss or fondle you in public places, even though you resist and pull back.
  • Emotional Boundaries are how you are feeling emotionally at any point in the relationship and whether you are willing to become more or less emotionally invested. For example, if you want to date a person for a while before the relationships becomes serious or "Facebook official," then your emotional boundary is drawn until you feel you know your partner enough to enter into a serious relationship. This boundary could be crossed if your partner wants to be serious right away and wants you to spend all your free time with them.
  • Sexual Boundaries are how far you are willing to go sexually. For example, you and your partner have engaged in oral sex, but you do not want to have intercourse yet, that is your sexual boundary. This boundary could be crossed if your partner pressures, guilts, or coerces you into having sexual intercourse before you're ready. This is also sexual assault. (LINK)

Knowing Your Own Boundaries+

Before you can communicate your boundaries with your partner, you need to know them yourself!  The list below leads you on a path of self-awareness.  It will help to give you a better understanding of who you are and what you want.



I like to:

I love it when:

I am excited when:

I dislike it when people:

I can't stand it when:

I feel angry when:

I feel happy when:

I believe in:

I feel loved when:

I feel disrespected when:

I desire:


+ Adapted from William and Mary Sexual Assault Resources and Education.  

Communicating Your Boundaries+

Sometimes it's hard to start a conversation with your partner to establish your boundaries.  You don't want to offend them or make them think you're too easy, too frigid, too emotional, too stoic.  Talking about what you want and need in the relationship is risky - but one that will definitely be worth it when both you and your partner are happy and comfortable in the relationship.

Here are some tips to communicating your boundaries with your partner:

  • Communicate in a way that is comfortable and effective for you. Whether you start the conversation via text, email, Facebook, or in person, you need to communicate in a way that you feel comfortable.
  • Be consistent. Say what you mean. Don't give mixed signals or try to downplay something that you want. If you're not ready to engage in sexual intercourse, state that boundary clearly so your partner knows not to cross it.
  • Respect other people's boundaries. Just like you want your partner to respect your boundaries, you need to respect theirs.

+ Adapted from William and Mary Sexual Assault Resources and Education.  

Healthy Relationships

How to Know if You're in a Healthy Relationship

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