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  • Writer's pictureDr. Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D., CGP, FAGPA

Understanding Healthy Vs Unhealthy Relationships

What makes a relationship healthy?

Communication & Sharing: The most important part of any healthy relationship between two people is being able to talk and listen to one another. You and the other person can figure out what your common interests are. You can share your feelings with the other person and trust that they will be there to listen and support you. In healthy relationships, people don't lie. Communication is based on honesty and trust. By listening carefully and sharing your thoughts and feelings with another person, you show them that they are an important part of your life.

Respect and Trust: In healthy relationships, you learn to respect and trust important people in your life. Disagreements may still happen, but you learn to stay calm and talk about how you feel. Talking calmly helps you to understand the real reason for not getting along, and it's much easier to figure out how to fix it. In healthy relationships, working through disagreements often makes the relationship stronger. In healthy relationships, people respect each other for who they are. This includes respecting and listening to yourself and your feelings so you can set boundaries and feel comfortable. You will find that you learn to understand experiences and feelings of others as well as having them understand your experiences and feelings.

How do I know if I have a healthy relationship with someone?

  • You know that you are in a healthy relationship with someone because you feel good about yourself when you are around that person. Unhealthy relationships can make you feel sad, angry, scared, or worried.

  • Healthy peer relationships involve an equal amount of give and take in the relationship. In unhealthy relationships, there is an unfair balance. You may feel that most of the time you are giving the other person more attention than they give to you.

  • You should feel safe around the other person and feel that you can trust him/her with your secrets. In a healthy relationship, you like to spend time with the other person, instead of feeling like you're pressured into spending time with them. Unhealthy relationships do not include trust and respect, which are very important parts of a family relationship, good friendship, or dating relationship. No one deserves to be in an unhealthy relationship.

If you don't feel that there is communication, sharing and trust, you are probably in an unhealthy relationship. You may want to try talking to the other person about how you are feeling. You may even need to end the relationship. If it's hard for you to stop spending time with the other person because you care about them, talk about how to make your relationship healthier or ask a trusted friend for advice. By learning how to build healthy relationships now, you will be able to have healthy relationships with the people you meet throughout your life!

What are the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships?

Being in a HEALTHY relationship means …

In an UNHEALTHY relationship…

Loving and taking care of yourself, before and while in a relationship.

You care for and focus on another person only and neglect yourself or you focus only on yourself and neglect the other person.

Respecting individuality, embracing differences, and allowing each person to "be themselves."

You feel pressure to change to meet the other person's standards, you are afraid to disagree, and your ideas or criticized. Or, you pressure the other person to meet your standards and criticize his/her ideas.

Doing things with friends and family and having activities independent of each other.

One of you has to justify what you do, where you go, and who you see.

Discussing things, allowing for differences of opinion, and compromising equally.

One of you makes all the decisions and controls everything without listening to the other's input.

​Expressing and listening to each other's feelings, needs, and desires.

​One of you feels unheard and is unable to communicate what you want.

Trusting and being honest with yourself and each other.

​You lie to each other and find yourself making excuses for the other person.

Respecting each other's need for privacy.

​You don't have any personal space and have to share everything with the other person.

​Resolving conflicts in a rational peaceful, and mutually agreed upon way.

​One of you yells and hits, shoves or throws things at the other in an argument.

There is room for positive growth and you learn more about each other as you develop and mature.

​You feel stifled, trapped, and stagnant. You are unable to escape the pressures of the relationship.

​In Romantic Relationships the following also apply:

Sharing sexual histories and sexual health status with a partner.

​Your partner keeps his/her sexual history a secret or hides a sexually transmitted infection from you or you do not disclose your history to your partner.

Practicing safer sex methods.

​You feel scared of asking your partner to use protection or s/he has refused your requests for safer sex. Or, you refuse to use safer sex methods after your partner has requested or you make your partner feel scared.

Respecting sexual boundaries and being able to say no to sex.

​Your partner has forced you to have sex or you have had sex when you don't really want to. Or, you have forced or coerced your partner to have sex.

Making financial decisions together and making sure that both partners benefit from financial arrangements.

​Trying to keep the partner from being financially independent, from getting or keeping a job. Making the partner ask for money or taking their money.

If you find yourself struggling with unhealthy relationships in your life, it might be time to consider additional support. The Aguirre Center for Inclusive Psychotherapy provides individual therapy, group therapy, and relationship therapy which can help you build a better a relationship with yourself and others. If you are ready to start your healing your journey you can get started through any of the steps below:

  1. Visit our Getting Started Page to request an appointment with one of our talented therapists.

  2. Learn more about our team of therapists and contact one of our therapists directly if you resonate with what they share on on their profiles.

  3. Review our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more about what you can expect about the services we offer.


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