What Is a Healthy Relationship?

What exactly do we mean by healthy relationships? Who in the relationship decides what is healthy and what is not?

Healthy relationships allow both partners to feel supported and connected but still feel independent. COMMUNICATION and BOUNDARIES are the two major components of a healthy relationship. Ultimately, the two people in the relationship decide what is healthy for them and what is not.  If something doesn’t feel right, you should have the freedom to voice your concerns to your partner.

Communication

Communication allows you and your partner to have a deep understanding of each other, and allows you to connect. In a healthy relationship with good communication, both partners:

  • Treat each other with respect
  • Speak openly to one another about thoughts and feelings
  • Feel heard when expressing feelings
  • Listen to each other and compromise
  • Do not criticize each other
  • Feel supported to do the things they like
  • Celebrate each other’s accomplishments and successes

Boundaries

Each person should express to their partner what they are and are not comfortable with, when it comes to sex life, finances, family and friends, personal space and time. In a healthy relationship with boundaries, both partners:

  • Allow each other to spend time with friends and family
  • Do not abuse technology to check on a partner
  • Trust each other and not require their partner to “check in”
  • Do not pressure the other to do things that they don’t want to do
  • Do not constantly accuse the other of cheating or being unfaithful

What Is Consent?

Consent allows both partners to express what they do want to experience.

It can be a moment for both partners to openly express to each other what they’re looking for. The saying “yes means yes” can be empowering and useful in thinking about what consent is.

Consent is ongoing.

Both partners should keep giving and looking for consent. Just because you’ve given consent to an act before, doesn’t mean it becomes a “given” every time. This idea also relates to new relationships — just because you’ve given consent to something in a different relationship doesn’t make it “automatic” in a new relationship.

Consent is not a free pass.

Saying yes to one act doesn’t mean you have to consent to other acts. Each requires its own consent. EX: Saying yes to oral sex doesn’t automatically mean you’re saying yes to intercourse.

Your relationship status does not make consent automatic.

If you’re married to someone, friends with someone, or dating someone, it doesn’t mean they ‘own’ your consent by default, or that you own theirs. Consent can also be taken back at any time — even if you’re in the midst of something and feeling uncomfortable, you always have the right to stop.

There’s no such thing as implied consent.

The absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.” What you or a partner chooses to wear doesn’t mean that you or they are inviting unwanted sexual attention or “pre-consenting.” The same can be said for flirting, talking, showing interest or any other actions.

It’s not consent if you’re afraid to say no.

It’s not consent if you’re being manipulated, pressured, or threatened to say yes. It’s also not consent if you or a partner is unable to legitimately give consent, which includes being asleep, unconscious, under the influence of conscious-altering substances or not able to understand what you’re saying yes to.

Nonconsent means STOP.

If anyone involved isn’t consenting, then what is happening is or could be rape, sexual assault or abuse.