Healthy vs Unhealthy Relationships

Jun 15, 2023

What is a healthy relationship?

A healthy relationship is one where you’re free to be who you are. One where you’re able to see and speak to who you like, dress how you want, eat and drink whatever you like, all without having to get permission from someone else or fearing the consequences of doing as you wish. Being in a healthy relationship should be a positive experience for you and the other person, whether they’re a romantic partner, family member or friend. In a healthy relationship you should feel safe, secure and respected.

What is an unhealthy relationship?

An unhealthy relationship can look different to different people, as we all have different wants, needs and boundaries. However, there are some typical red flags which might indicate that your relationship is unhealthy.

For example, if you’re involved with someone romantically and they expect you to spend all your free time with them instead of having enough time to be alone and with others such as friends and family members, this would be unhealthy.

Another red flag of an unhealthy relationship is if the other person’s behaviour or comments make you feel unhappy or bad about yourself. Maybe they make you feel unsafe by the things they do or say – either to you or about you to others.

Similarly, pressuring you into doing things you don’t want to do or don’t feel ready for is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. This could mean that they aren’t respecting your boundaries, which is not good. Boundaries are necessary for setting standards for how you like to be treated. They help to outline your likes and dislikes; establish consent by requiring permission and respect for your values, your feelings and for any differing opinions you may have.

How do I know if my relationship is healthy or unhealthy?

As we mentioned above, every relationship is different. One thing to remember is that no relationship – romantic or otherwise – is perfect. Of course there’s going to be the odd argument or disagreement, but it’s important that these things are occasional and not happening too often.

In a healthy relationship, you’ll both respect each other’s boundaries and respect the fact that you’re not the same person, so you will disagree on some things! In an unhealthy relationship, there may be a lack of respect for boundaries. Another sign to look out for is if the other person brings up past issues to hold them against you, make you feel guilty and possibly pressure you into acting in a certain way.

In a healthy relationship, with proper communication you can work through issues together and come out stronger on the other side. Communication is integral to a healthy relationship. It isn’t just about what we say, it’s about the tone we use and even our body language as we communicate.

An listening is equally as important as talking too! It is essential that you both practice ‘active listening’ – this means not only listening to the words the other person is saying, but also to the message they’re trying to convey. It is important to know that the other person has paid attention and understood when you express yourself to them, as this shows you that they’re respectful of your thoughts, feelings and opinions.

What can I do if I think I’m in an unhealthy relationship?

If you think your relationship is unhealthy, the first thing to do is take some time to sit back and reflect. Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel respected?
  • Am I being listened to?
  • Am I made to feel worthy?
  • Does the other person care for and support me?
  • Do I feel that my opinions are valid?
  • Do I have the freedom to see your friends and family without my partner checking up on you?
  • Can I freely send messages to people without my partner feeling the need to read them?

Remember – these are your rights, and no-one has the right to take them away from you.

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above, your relationship may be unhealthy. If you need support or are still not sure, you can talk to us anytime, any day on 0808 802 1414, at or via our Live Chat here on our website.

Recent News

Signs and Symptoms of Non-fatal Strangualtion

Signs and Symptoms of Non-fatal Strangualtion

Would you be able to spot the signs and symptoms of non-fatal strangulation? It could save a life. In June 2023, non-fatal strangulation or asphyxiation (under The Justice Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims Act NI 2022) became a specific criminal offence in...

50% Increase in Calls to Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline

50% Increase in Calls to Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline

The Domestic and Sexual Abuse (DSA) helpline, hosted by Nexus, has seen a 50% increase in calls and a 28% increase in webchats and emails between 1st – 20th December 2022 and the same period last year.[i] It is expecting further increases in the week between Christmas...

Launch of new advertising campaign

Launch of new advertising campaign

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline launch their new advertising campaign. On Tuesday 9th August the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline launched their new advertising campaign with new graphics to stakeholders across Government departments and key figures within the...

Coercive Control is ILLEGAL

Coercive Control is ILLEGAL

⚠️ Trigger Warning ⚠️ From February 2022 coercive control is illegal in Northern Ireland under the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021. What is coercive control? Coercive control is an act of a pattern of acts of assault, threats,...

Police Service of Northern Ireland appeal for information regarding Mother and Baby Institutions.

The Right to Ask

This gives members of the public a 'Right to Ask', a formal mechanism to make enquiries about an individual who they are in a relationship with, or who is in a relationship with someone they know, where there is a concern that the individual may be violent or abusive...

Domestic Abuse “Free Travel” scheme – Emergency Accomodation

Domestic Abuse “Free Travel” scheme – Emergency Accomodation

The infrastructure and justice Ministers have agreed that free travel on Translink public transport is to be provided to men and women (as well as any accompanying children) fleeing domestic abuse. This will be available for travel to emergency accommodation provided...

You will be heard,
you will be believed.
0808 802 1414
or email

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support