Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships

One of the most important things for anyone in a relationship to be aware of is whether or not the relationship they are participating in is a healthy one. By evaluating how the people in a relationship talk to each other and interact, you can recognize and work to exit an unhealthy or potentially abusive relationship. In all relationships, including friendships and dating relationships, there are certain characteristics which will classify that relationship as healthy or unhealthy. Some of these characteristics are listed below. 

Relationship Characteristics Healthy Unhealthy
Trust Both partners have a relationship of mutual trust; each partner can trust themselves to look after their own well-being One or both partners lack trust in the other; excessive jealousy may be present following ordinary actions
Honesty Both partners are honest with each other and themselves about how they are feeling and what they are thinking; partners can react spontaneously to situations without fear of reprisal One partner deceives, lies to, or manipulates the other in order to achieve their own ends; the partner skews both his/her own perception of events as well as the other partner’s/sees only what he/she wants to see
Openness Partners are free to be themselves; they openly communicate their thoughts, feelings, and desires Partner(s) is/are closed, private, unwilling to share anything about one’s own thoughts, wants, and emotions
Communication Partners openly communicate about concerns and desires; dialogue is give-and-take; questions are asked for clarification Messages are curt, unclear, and one-sided; partner is unwilling to answer questions or offer opinions
Understanding Partners make an effort to understand and accommodate the feelings, beliefs, wants, and needs of each other No effort is made to become aware of the significant other’s needs, feelings, or wants
Compromise Partners are willing to compromise on conflicting issues; no one partner dominates the compromise Inflexible; compromise only occurs when one partner’s demands are met, or when the partner is trying to make up after abuse has occurred.
Boundaries Partners set clear boundaries as individuals and as a couple; each partner is aware of the other’s boundaries and respects them; no boundaries restrict the freedoms of a partner Boundaries are unclear; partner disregards or violates the other’s boundaries; boundaries restrict one partner’s ability to exist independently of the other
Respect Both partners view each other as respected equals Respect is demanded by one partner without being returned; one partner is “godlike” and the other “worthless”
Decision Making Each partner is free to choose what decisions to make without pressure or coercion from the other Partner is physically or emotionally pressured for physical activity or commitment
Independence and Self-Worth Each partner focuses on developing themselves as individuals while in the relationship There is an obsession with finding someone to love; one or both partners believes(s) all of their worth stems from the relationship
Power Balance Partners are equal; power is balanced One partner holds a position of power over the other; they can impose negative consequences if the partner fails to comply