All relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, with unhealthy in between.
The relationship spectrum below can help you understand where your relationship sits.
A healthy relationship means that both you and your partner are:
- Communicative. You talk openly about problems and listen to one another. You respect each other’s opinions.
- Respectful. You value each other’s opinions, feelings, and needs, and give each other the freedom to be yourself and be loved for who you are.
- Trusting. You believe what your partner has to say and don’t feel the need to “prove” each other’s trustworthiness.
- Honest. You’re honest with each other but can still keep some things private.
- Equal. You make decisions together and hold each other to the same standards. You and your partner have equal say with regard to major decisions within the relationship. All partners have access to the resources they need.
- Setting boundaries. You enjoy spending time apart, alone, or with others. You respect each other’s need for time and space apart. You communicate with each other about what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
- Practicing consent. You talk openly about sexual and reproductive choices together. All partners always willingly consent to sexual activity and can safely discuss what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
- Parenting supportively. All partners are able to parent in a way that they feel comfortable with. You communicate together about the needs of the child(ren), as well as the needs of the parents.
You may be in an unhealthy relationship if your partner is:
- Non-communicative. When problems arise, you fight or you don’t discuss them at all.
- Disrespectful. You or your partner behave inconsiderately toward the other.
- Not trusting. You or your partner refuse to believe the other or feel entitled to invade their privacy.
- Dishonest. You or your partner lie, omit, or obscure facts.
- Taking control. You or your partner takes steps to suggest that one’s desires and choices are more important than another’s.
- Isolating. Your partner restricts your contact with other people, either in person or online.
- Pressured into sexual activity. One partner uses pressure or guilt against another to coerce them into sexual acts or reproductive choices.
- Ignoring boundaries. It’s assumed or implied that only one partner is responsible for making informed decisions.
- Unequal economically. Finances aren’t discussed. Financial decisions are made unilaterally or it’s assumed that only one partner is in charge of finances.
A relationship is abusive when your partner:
- Communicates harmfully. Your partner communicates or in a way that is hurtful, threatening, insulting, or demeaning.
- Mistreats the other. Your partner doesn’t respect your thoughts, feelings, decisions, opinions, or physical safety.
- Makes untrue accusations. Your partner accuses you of cheating or breaking the boundaries of your relationship. Your partner may escalate by creating situations where you need to “prove” your trustworthiness, like handing over your social media passwords.
- Controls the other. There’s no equality in your relationship. One partner makes decisions without the other’s input, or makes all of the decisions in certain parts of the relationship, like finances.
- Isolates the other. Your partner controls where you travel, who you talk to, or how you spend your time. This often includes physical or emotional isolation from your family and friends.
- Forces sexual activity or controls reproductive choices. Your partner forces or pressures you to engage in sexual activity you don’t want to. Your partner controls your reproductive choices by sabotaging birth control, or by pressuring you to have or not have children.
- Controls finances. Your partner controls the money and access to resources, including preventing you from earning an income or accessing their own income. Having an open, respectful dialogue about finances is not an option.
- Manipulates children. Your partner uses your children to gain power and control over you, including telling them lies or baseless criticisms about you.
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